“They have no mining business in Karnataka”

Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa on Saturday denied the Opposition's allegations that the continuation of the Reddy brothers in his Cabinet would hamper the probe into their alleged illegal mining activities, and said he would act against them if the Congress gave documentary evidence.

“Let them give supporting documents, I will take action,” he told journalists here. But he added that illegal mining had been going on in Karnataka for the past 15 years; moreover, the Reddy brothers — Revenue Minister G. Karunakara Reddy and Tourism Minister G. Janardhana Reddy — had no [mining] business in Karnataka: their operations were confined to Andhra Pradesh.

More powers for Lokayukta

Asked how Lokayukta Santosh Hegde, who could investigate complaints against only those up to the level of Chief Secretary, would go into the charges against the Reddy brothers, Mr. Yeddyurappa said Mr. Hegde himself had said that if need be, he would go into complaints against anyone. “I have full confidence that Mr. Hegde will conduct a probe and take action in this issue.”

The BJP government, he said, had given the Lokayukta more powers, so it could seek the assistance of any agency or individual, from both the State and Central governments, for the probe.

However, “we have not mentioned the agency by name like the CBI or the Corps of Detectives (CoD).”

“Congress tactic”

Mr. Yeddyurappa said that as 90 per cent of those indulging in illegal mining belonged to the Congress, that party was demanding a CBI probe. Its tactic was to delay the probe by entrusting it to the CBI to save Congress functionaries. It was afraid that if the Lokayukta continued its probe, the truth would come out, and “put the Congress' friends in trouble.”

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