Sushma’s conspicuous absence at Reddy function (Lead)

August 12th, 2011 - 8:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Bellary, Aug 12 (IANS) It was a disappointment for the Reddy brothers, mining barons and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) loyalists from Karnataka when the senior BJP leader they acknowledge as mentor failed to attend their high-profile annual function Friday.

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

The Reddys were struggling businessmen in 1999 when they joined the BJP, 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 have always addressed Sushma Swaraj as ‘thayi’ and are known to say 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 July 31.

Janardhana held the tourism portfolio, Karunakara revenue, 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 scandal-hit Yeddyurappa cabinet.

However the Reddys had some consolation as BJP president Nitin Gadkari came and blessed scores of couples at a mass marriage function 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 later the mass marriage ceremony.

The reason apparently given by Sushma Swaraj for missing Friday’s pooja is bereavement. She had missed the festival in 2008 also because of a death in the family.

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

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

Janardhana’s lobbying to get his youngest brother Somashekara into the Gowda ministry has not found willing ears in the BJP central leadership.

Gowda took oath alone as chief minister Aug 4 and has inducted 26 ministers in two batches: 21 on Aug 8 and five Thursday. He can add seven more as the ministry strength is fixed at 34.

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