Cong targets BJP leaders after Reddy's arrest

New Delhi/Bangalore: Stepping up its attack on BJP over issue of illegal mining in Karnataka after the arrest of its former minister, Congress on Tuesday demanded a CBI probe into such activities in the state and an inquiry into alleged business ties of its top leaders with mining magnates Reddy brothers.

BJP, which appeared to be on its back foot, expressed the hope that G Janardhan Reddy, who was the Tourism and Infrastructure Development Minister in the previous B S Yeddyurappa government, will come out clean but maintained the whole issue was related to his private business and not to the party.

While Karnataka Chief Minister DV Sadananda Gowda refused to react to the development, state BJP President KS Eshwarappa alleged that the CBI is working under the shadow of the ruling party at the Centre.

"The arrest of Janardhana Reddy proves the CBI is under the shadow of the Congress," Eshwarappa told reporters at the district headquarters town of Shimoga.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Shukla said the law is taking its course in the case.

"You all know that the Government does not interfere in the functioning of the CBI. The CBI is investigating the matter and they must be proceedings according to their investigation. You should have faith in them," he said in Delhi.

Training his guns at the top BJP leadership, Congress leader Digvijay Singh, who was in Jammu, demanded an inquiry into alleged "business ties" of Sushma Swaraj and M Venkaiah Naidu with Reddy brothers. The Leader of Opposition said she was ready for any probe.

Union Minister M Veerappa Moily said the arrest of Reddy by CBI following an Andhra Pradesh High Court order in the illegal mining case was a "lesson" for those occupying high offices not to misuse their position.

"When you totally abuse the rule of laws, this will happen.... This is a lesson for everyone who occupy office as a minister or officer that they should not misuse the office," said Moily, who is a Lok Sabha MP from Chikkballapur in Karnataka.

He also hit out at Yeddyurappa, accusing him of "unabated" and "gross abuse" of authority.

Alleging that BJP came to power through money gained by illegal mining, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee President G Parameshwara said, "If Reddy and the BJP are confident that he would come clean on the issue, a CBI investigation would settle the issue once and for all".

Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said, "All these facts about the Bellary brothers were already in public domain". He also dismissed BJP's criticism that the action was an example of the misuse of CBI.

"That is an obvious and expected reaction from the BJP. It should not be given any credence," Tewari said.

Janardhan Reddy and Managing Director of Obalapuram Mining Company BV Srinivas Reddy were arrested by CBI after searches at their premises allegedly led to seizure of over 30 kg of gold and more than Rs 4.5 crore in cash.

Former Karnataka Lokayukta N Santosh Hegde too favoured handing over the probe into illegal mining in the state to the CBI, maintaining that the Obalapuram Mining Company indulged in such activity.