Bangalore: Under attack over their alleged involvement in illegal mining, Karnataka's Reddy brothers hit back on Monday at the Congress party, with Tourism Minister G Janaradhana Reddy naming a few Congress leaders, including two former ministers, as involved in the illegal mining in Bellary district.
Quoting from an interim report of state ombudsman (Lokayukta) Justice N Santosh Hegde, Reddy told reporters that former ministers Y M Ghorpade and Allum Veerabhadrappa, ex-Lok Sabha member H G Ramulu, Rajya Sabha member Anil Lad and his brother and state legislative member Santosh Lad of the Congress were involved in illegal mining and encroaching on forest lands.
"Mining companies owned and run by the families of these Congressmen have been involved in illegal mining and encroaching over 100 hectares of forest lands in Bellary district without paying royalty to the state government over the last two-three decades," Reddy claimed, releasing select documents from the interim report.
Reddy also named former Bellary district Congress president Abdul Wahib as one of the beneficiaries of illegal mining.
Refuting allegations that his family, which includes his brothers - Revenue Minister G Karunakara Reddy and legislative member G Somashekara Reddy - had not have mining business in the state, Reddy said that the mine-owing Congressmen had amassed wealth worth thousands of crores by indulging in illegal mining and depriving the state exchequer of hundreds of crores by way of royalty.
"We have legal mining business in Andhra Pradhesh since 2002. We have no mining business or mining leases in Karnataka though we have been in active politics in this state since 1996. There is not a shred of evidence of doing anything illegal against us in the state," Reddy asserted.
Claiming that he was not allowed to make a statement in the state legislature during its recent monsoon session to clear his family name and expose the Congressmen involved in illegal mining, Reddy said he was ready for not only a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), but also by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or any global investigation agency.
"We had humble beginnings as sons of an ordinary police constable. We came up to the present positions by hard work and god's blessings. We are a 24-carat gold family. Our opponents cannot tarnish our image or take away what we have by targetting us," Reddy said during a two-hour marathon media conference.
Accusing the Congress of holding the state to ransom by preventing legislative business demanding a CBI probe into illegal mining in his home district, Reddy said the Congress and the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) were waging war against his family and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) out of sheer jealousy as the Congress had been eliminated from Bellary.
"The Congress, which had a stranglehold over Bellary for over five decades and looted its mineral wealth, keeping the district most backward, is afraid of the BJP and us as we have started development works there and stopped its leaders from indulging in illegal mining and encroachment," Reddy claimed.
Alleging that Governor H.R. Bharadwaj was "overstepping his limits" by indulging in politics and acting as an "agent" of the Congress, Reddy dared him to prove any wrong doing by his family.
"By claiming publicly that he was a Congressman, the governor has clearly demonstrated that he was acting as an agent of the party though so many Congressmen in the state are involved in illegal mining," Reddy added.