In a show of strength at the end of its 320-km padayatra, Congress on Monday stormed the mining bastion of Bellary, targeting ruling BJP on illegal mining and corruption and warned it that the Centre will not remain a mute spectator to the ‘loot’ of natural resources.
Congress leaders claimed the countdown for the fall of the first-ever BJP government in the south has begun and unleashed a barrage of attacks on ministers and the Reddy brothers — the mining magnates who hail from Bellary — accusing them of looting the State’s resources.
Addressing the gathering, estimated to be about two lakh by the party, the leaders charged the Reddy brothers with treating Bellary as their personal fiefdom and castigated Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa for not reining them in.
Congress had launched the padayatra in Bangalore on July 25 under the banner ‘Bellary Chalo’ after accepting the challenge thrown by K. Janardhana Reddy and Karunakara Reddy and their close associate and minister R. Sreeramulu in the assembly, daring them to step into their home district.
Claiming overwhelming success of the padayatra, Congress leaders said the party has been ‘rejuvenated’ and went to the extent of smelling power, maintaining, “We will soon hoist the Congress flag on Vidhana Soudha.”
Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, also in-charge of party affairs in the state, lashed out at the Yeddyurappa government, charging that “BJP ministers are looting the state’s natural resources.”
“The State’s resources are concentrated in the hands of four individuals under BJP rule. They are into illegal exports and BJP leaders keep mum because they are involved in it,” he alleged.
In a sharp attack on Reddy brothers, Mr. Azad, who oversaw the party’s 1999 assembly poll win, wanted to know how these Bellary ministers had amassed so much wealth in a short period, the nature of their business and source of income.
He said “15 years ago when I was here, I had not heard of these Reddy brothers. They did not even own a bicycle then… Now they claim they possess tens and thousands of crores. Where did it come from? What is their enterprise? Have they inherited this wealth? They have amassed it by looting the natural treasury of Karnataka.
“One district in Karnataka is beyond the jurisdiction of the Chief Minister. The Chief Minister cannot even post or transfer an official.”
He said the BJP government should not underestimate the Centre. “If it considers that the Centre is weak or helpless, it is highly mistaken,” he said, adding “The Centre will not sit quiet” if this plunders of resources continues and the BJP government does not take action.