Sushma gives wealth goddess festival a miss

August 12th, 2011 - 8:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Bellary, Aug 12 (IANS) For the rags-to-riches or rather bicycle-to-choppers Reddy brothers of Karnataka, this year’s festival of Hindu wealth goddess ‘Lakshmi’ Friday lacked lustre.

Missing at the ‘Varamahalakshmi Pooja’ in the Reddys’ political base, the iron ore rich Bellary district, about 300 km from Bangalore, was their ‘thayi’ (mother) Sushma Swaraj of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

However, the Reddys had some consolation as BJP president Nitin Gadkari blessed scores of couples at a mass marriage the mining barons’ loyalist and former health minister B. Sriramulu organised.

Since 1999, except in 2008 and this year, it was Sushma Swaraj who was the star attraction at the ‘pooja’ held at a doctor’s residence in Bellary and at the mass marriage ceremony.

Though this is the second time the BJP’s fiery leader was absent at the ‘pooja’, it stood out as it came on the heels of the Reddys’ indictment for illegal mining and loss of ministership in the state.

The reason apparently given by Sushma Swaraj for giving the miss to the Friday event is a bereavement in her family. She missed the festival also in 2008 because of a death in the family.

The Reddys were struggling businessmen in 1999 when they joined the BJP just ahead of the Lok Sabha polls and came into contact with Sushma Swaraj as she took on Congress president Sonia Gandhi in Bellary.

Since then the Reddys always addressed Sushma Swaraj as ‘thayi’ and used to gush that they would never go against her wishes.

Of the three Reddy brothers, G. Janardhana and elder G. Karunakara have been named in the Lokayukta report on illegal mining scam. The report led to the fall of the B.S. Yeddyurappa ministry on July 31.

Janardhana held the tourism portfolio and Karunakara handled the revenue portfolio while their loyalist Sriramlu looked after health.

The youngest Reddy is G. Somashekara, a legislator from Bellary. He has not been named in the Lokayukta report.

The two senior Reddys and Sriramlu have not been included in the D.V. Sadananda Gowda ministry that succeeded the scandals-hit Yeddyurappa cabinet.

Janardhana’s lobbying to get his youngest brother Somashekara into the Gowda ministry has thus far not been heeded to by the BJP central leaders.

Gowda took oath alone as chief minister Aug 4 and has inducted 26 ministers in two batches. He can add seven more as the ministry strength is fixed at 34.

Last year the Congress had alleged that Sushma Swaraj’s annual visit to Bellary was meant take back “Lakshmi’ (money) from the Reddys.

She had vehemently denied the charge.

The first signs of ‘thayi’ distancing from the Reddys came early this year when she told a magazine that she had not promoted the mining barons’ political career.

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