Mining baron Janardhana Reddy rejoins BJP

Bengaluru: Former Karnataka Minister and mining baron G Janardhana Reddy on Monday rejoined the BJP ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. The Gangavati MLA, who is an accused in an illegal mining case, had formed the ‘Kalyana Rajya Pragati Paksha‘ (KRPP) ahead of the state assembly polls last year, snapping his two-decade-old association with the BJP.

Reddy today merged his KRPP with the BJP as he, along with wife Aruna Lakshmi and some family members, joined the party in the presence of its veteran leader and former Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, state President B Y Vijayendra, and others.

Reddy had recently met Union Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi. However, in the recently held Rajya Sabha polls he had extended support to the Congress candidate.

Before the assembly polls last year, Reddy had been largely politically inactive for nearly 12 years since his arrest by the CBI for an alleged role in a mining scam. During this period, he had a brief stint ahead of the 2018 assembly polls when he campaigned for his close friend and former Minister B Sriramulu in Molakalmuru Assembly segment.

In the run up to the 2018 assembly polls, the then BJP national president Amit Shah, in response to a reporter’s question, had distanced the party from him and stressed that “the BJP has nothing to do with Janardhana Reddy.”

Accused in a multi-crore illegal mining case, he has been out on bail since 2015. Several conditions were imposed by the apex court in its order which includes prohibiting him from visiting Ballari in Karnataka and Ananthpur and Kadapa in Andhra Pradesh. Because of these restrictions, he had to contest the 2023 Assembly polls from Gangavati in Koppal district.

Expressing his displeasure about the way BJP had ignored him, Reddy had announced a new party last year and also took a dig at his brothers — Karunakara Reddy and Somashekar Reddy — and Sriramulu, as they remained with the BJP. The three of them had unsuccessfully contested the Assembly polls, with Reddy’s new party said to have impacted their performance in the election.

Sriramulu, a ST community leader and former Minister is now the BJP’s candidate from the Bellary (Ballari) Lok Sabha constituency.

Reddy had played an instrumental role in strengthening the BJP in the Ballari district and is still believed to enjoy a considerable clout there as well as in adjoining districts like Chitradurga, Koppal and Raichur, which could be useful for the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls.

Reddy and his brother-in-law B V Srinivas Reddy, managing director of Obalapuram Mining Company (OMC), were arrested by the CBI on September 5, 2011. The company is accused of changing mining lease boundary markings and indulging in illegal mining in the Ballari Reserve Forest area, spread over Ballari in Karnataka and the Anantpur district of Andhra Pradesh.

Reddy first came to political limelight during the 1999 Lok Sabha elections, when he campaigned for BJP leader, the late Sushma Swaraj, who had contested against Congress’ Sonia Gandhi from Ballari.

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