Bengaluru: On his second visit to the poll bound state Karnataka, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday shared stage with one of the Reddy brothers in Bellary. The act was seen as the Prime Minister putting his weight behind BJP’s most controversial candidate in the state days before May 12 elections.
The Reddy brothers – MLA and ministers during the earlier BJP government in the state - have been accused of conducting largescale illegal mining across the iron-ore-rich district of Bellary.
Bellary - from where they have been given ticket again this time - became the second stop in PM Modi's Thursday’s visit to the state this week.
The BJP has been facing intense criticism from the Congress since it named Gali Somashekhara Reddy in its second list on April 17. Ticket for a second brother, Gali Karunakara Reddy followed. Gali Janardhan Reddy, a former minister who has the bulk of accusations against him, was soon seen campaigning across the district for the BJP.
The BJP has defended the move as a "compromise", claiming they are the party's best chances for a victory in the area.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared stage with Gali Somashekhara Reddy at the District Stadium before hundreds of supporters. He did not speak about the candidate or Congress allegations. Instead, he chose to focus on the alleged Congress failures.
The Reddy brothers represent a chunk of corruption allegations that surfaced during the BJP government led by BS Yeddyurappa. Gali Somasekhara Reddy is accused of bribing a judge in the cash-for bail case that involved Janardhan Reddy.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who are spearheading the attack on the BJP over corruption, were scathing in their criticism.
Early on Thursday, Siddaramaiah had welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a tweet: "As you arrive in Bellary, we look forward to hear your commentary on corruption. Don't forget to mention Reddy's record scam score of 35,000 cr & still not out. With star players like Yeddy-Reddy, your score in Karnataka will be well short of 60."
The Prime Minister's allegations in Bellary provoked another series of tweets:
In Bellary you are asking for vote for a candidate who is the brother of the mining mafia kingpin G. Janardhana Reddy who brought shame to Bellry & the state. And you say Congress has insulted Bellary. Pray, how?— Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) May 3, 2018
ಸುಳ್ಳು ಹೇಳುವುದಕ್ಕೂ ಒಂದು ಮಿತಿ ಇರಬೇಕು!#ModiHitWicket https://t.co/HCOcizbQN7
Modi ji, mining policy is done by the center. Rules by the state. Karnataka’s Mineral Rules are a model to the country. We have successfully conducted e-auction of mines & are earning revenues for the Govt— Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) May 3, 2018
Earlier, under BJP Govt here your friends the Reddys used earn. Not govt! https://t.co/NYoflLc85Q
In Bidar, Rahul Gandhi also referred to the Rs 35,000 crore and demanded that the Prime Minister admit that he also had made a "corrupt individual his Chief Ministerial candidate". BS Yeddyurappa had to step down from the state's top post in August 2011 following corruption allegations against him....