Ballari: Not too long ago Ballari was rocked by the illegal mining scam, but this has not stopped the major political parties from fielding legislators and ministers associated with illegal mining in the district these coming assembly polls.
No party can claim to be “clean” on this front, as the Congress, BJP and Janata Dal (Secular) have fielded such candidates in Ballari city.
And to top it all, G. Janardhan Reddy, mining baron and former minister, who was the alleged “kingpin” of the illegal mining racket in the district, has returned to active politics.
Camping on the border of Ballari district, in Hangal village, Chitradurga district as he is barred from entering Ballari under his bail conditions, Mr Reddy has been actively campaigning for his close associate, B. Sriramulu in Molakalmur, and Badami in Bagalkot district, where he is pitted against Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.
While the Congress took out a Bengaluru to Ballari padayatra against illegal mining in 2010 and rode to power in 2013, it has ironically, just ahead of the 2018 assembly poll, inducted two of the accused in the illegal mining scam, B.S. Anand Singh and B. Nagendra and even fielded them as its candidates.
Mr. Singh, a two-term BJP MLA from Vijayanagar and former Minister, is trying his luck for the third time as a Congress candidate. He currently has 16 cases of illegal mining pending against him. Mr. Nagendra, who is a two-term MLA from Kudligi, and is now the Congress candidate for Ballari (ST) constituency, has the highest 26 cases of illegal mining pending against him. In Ballari city, Congress MLA, Anil Lad, who is seeking re-election, has nine cases of illegal mining against him.
Things are no better in the BJP as it has fielded one of the Reddy brothers, G. Somashekhar Reddy, who has been accused of bribing a CBI judge to give his brother bail and Mr Hothur Mohammed Iqbal, who has two cases of illegal mining pending against him.
The BJP has also fielded Mr T.H. Suresh Babu, a two-term MLA from Kampli , who has been accused of trying to bribe a CBI judge to get bail for Mr. Janardhan Reddy.
To make sure that the mining barons and their money bags don’t ruin chances of others in the fray, the Election Commission has appointed a general observer for Ballari city and other constituencies in the district in addition to six expenditure observers....