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Gali Janardhana Reddy
1999-2018: rise, fall of Reddy
With his arrest by the Central Crime Branch police + in connection with the Rs 600-crore Ambidant Marketing Ponzi case + , life has come full circle for mining czar and former minister Gali Janardhana Reddy.
The rise of the former minister, the son of a police constable, to become one of the state’s most influential politicians and a leading businessman was as spectacular as his fall: After years of power, he spent four years in jail, charged with plundering the state’s natural wealth.
Reddy first appeared on the political scene in Ballari, managing with B Sreeramulu, then a budding politician, the electoral contest between Sushma Swaraj and then AICC president Sonia Gandhi in 1999.
A small-time businessman with a finance firm, Reddy made a fortune after entering the mining business. Thanks to soaring iron ore prices owing to demand from China, Reddy soon turned into Mr Moneybags and the BJP nominated him to the legislative council when the party was in power in alliance with the JD(S).
With his star in the ascendant, Reddy by 2008 not only became a minister in the firstever BJP government in the south headed by B S Yeddyurappa, but also wangled ministerial berths for his elder brother Karunakar Reddy and Sreeramulu. This helped him establish an iron grip on mining and politics in Ballari. Reddy’s entourage, dozens of high-end cars and his helicopters reminded people of the district of the larger-than-life characters of Telugu cinema.
He announced the setting up of two steel plants, one in Ballari, another in in Andhra Pradesh’s Anantapur district where he owned Obulapuram Mining Company (OMC). Active support from former Andhra Pradesh CM Rajashekhar Reddy helped Reddy expand his empire.
Reddy’s grip on the BJP in Karnataka was on display when he herded more than 60 BJP MLAs to a Hyderabad resort and made Yeddyurappa bow before him to remain chief minister.
Around the same time, allegations of illegal mining by OMC started to surface. Under pressure, Yeddyurappa ordered a Lokayukta probe. The unexpected death of Rajashekhar Reddy in a helicopter crash added to the Reddy’s troubles as the Andhra Pradesh government referred the illegal mining charges to the CBI.
After Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde indicted Reddy and Yeddyurappa in his report on illegal mining, Yeddyurappa had to step down and his successor DV Sadanand Gowda kept Reddy and Sriramulu out of his cabinet.
The CBI arrested Reddy on September 5, 2011 and the Karnataka police also filed a case against him.
After nearly four years in jail, Reddy obtained bail in January 2015 on the condition that he keep away from Ballari district. Reddy has since then stayed in Benglauru but kept up efforts to regain relevance in state politics. Though he did made an appearance during the recent assembly bypolls, sharing a stage with Yeddyurappa and Sreeramulu in Molakalmuru, he was soon behind the scenes again after attacks by the Congress and JD(S).
Though BJP has claimed that it has severed ties with Reddy, the fact that he still holds sway over the party was evident from the fact that all of his followers bagged tickets from the party in the assembly election in May. Download The Times of India News App for Latest City News.
2018: a short-lived resurgence
Former Karnataka minister Gali Janardhana Reddy has risen like the proverbial phoenix from the ashes after his alleged involvement in illegal mining.
Janardhana, seen as a liability for BJP after he spent two years in jail in connection with illegal mining cases in Karnataka and Andhra, has demonstrated his continued clout by ensuring that his proteges get tickets. Not only did Janardhana ensure that his long-time confidant B Sriramulu got his due in BJP’s poll plans, he also made sure his other kin and loyalists got tickets from strongholds.
While BJP is projecting Sriramulu as its Dalit face, the party fielded his younger brother G Somashekar Reddy from Ballari; Sanna Fakirappa, Sriramulu’s uncle from Ballari Rural; and T H Suresh Babu, Sreeramulu’s nephew, from Kampli.
Janardhana is also lobbying hard for a ticket for his nephew G Lallesh Reddy from BTM Layout in Bengaluru, where home minister R Ramalinga Reddy is contesting.
His elder brother G Karunakara Reddy, who unsuccessfully contested from Harapannahalli in Davanagere, however, failed to make it to BJP’s first and second list, giving credence to reports of a fallout among the brothers. Sources, however, said Karunakara still has a chance, as BJP is yet to announce its Harapanahalli candidate.
After he walked out of jail on bail, Janardhana did try a political comeback and tried to contest from Kolar, a constituency dominated by the Reddy community and other Telugu-speaking people, as he was barred from entering Ballari district in Karnataka. But the party did not heed his request.
S T Subramanyam, a political commentator from Ballari who has closely seen the rise and fall of the Reddy brothers, said Janaradhana has a reason to keep his political clout intact, as he knows the return of the Siddaramaiah government will spell doom for him and his followers.
At the fag end of its tenure, the Congress government decided to reinvestigate the illegal mining and iron ore export scams soon after the CBI closed the cases against Reddy and his associates.
“He’s using Sriramulu to the hilt as he has both caste and charisma on his side and has the ability to move up the political ladder, which Reddy clearly lacks. His priority is to ensure Sriramulu is made deputy CM if BJP wins,’’ Subramanyam added.
Though Sriramulu was not keen on contesting from Molakalmuru in Chitradurga district, a BJP senior claimed he opted to do so on a suggestion from Janaradhana, who felt it was strategically located to influence Valmiki Nayaka community in at least 15-20 seats spread over the districts of central and Hyderabad-Karnatak region. Sriramulu is a Valmiki Nayaka.