New delhi/Bangalore: Karnataka’s governor H.R. Bhardwaj has asked chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappato remove the controversial Reddy brothers from his cabinet in the wake of a mining scam.
“He (Yeddyurappa) is a person who realizes the problem. I told him you have appointed them as ministers. Take action against them. He says I need time. He doesn’t say it is not happening,” Bhardwaj told reporters in New Delhi on Tuesday, after a meeting with President Pratibha Patil.
Tourism minister G. Janardhana Reddyand revenue minister G. Karunakara Reddyare alleged to have encroached on forest land to facilitate illegal iron ore mining operations. As managing directors of Obalapuram Mining Co., they oversee mining operations at Anantapur in Andhra Pradesh, bordering Karnataka. Yeddyurappa told the state assembly last week that at least 30 million tonnes of iron ore had been illegally exported from the state since 2003.
The opposition Congress party claims the scam is worth Rs60,000 crore. Along with the Janata Dal (Secular), or JD(S), it is mounting pressure on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government to institute an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
A sit-in organized by opposition lawmakers entered its second day on Tuesday, forcing the adjournment of the state assembly. But the chief minister ruled out a CBI probe. “We will not hand it over to the CBI,” Yeddyurappa said, adding that the government will let an ombudsman inquiry to continue.
A meeting of BJP legislators endorsed the decision.
“There is no question of seeking CBI investigation into illegal mining. The Congress is trying to create confusion in the minds of people,” K.S. Eswarappa, the BJP’s state unit chief.
The BJP also hit back at the governor, calling him an “agent” of the Congress for demanding the Reddy brothers’ ouster. But Congress and JD(S) insist only the CBI can probe the scam, which involved inter-state operations and overseas shipments.
Leader of the opposition S. Siddharamaiahsaid the Congress was mulling over launching a statewide agitation against the government, including holding a public meeting at Bellary, from where the Reddy brothers hail. “We will decide on a strategy after consulting all senior party leaders.”
PTI and Venkatesha Babu contributed to the story.