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Karnataka's Landmine

The all-party involvement in corruption and loot is not being challenged.

The reluctant resignation of B S Yeddyurappa from the chief-ministership of Karnataka has shown once again that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is as complicit as the Congress Party on corruption and the criminal abuse of government authority for personal aggrandisement. This is not a revelation, but it is easy to overlook how significant a blow it is to the BJP’s image and political strategy of cornering the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government over corruption.

The massive loot of iron ore in Karnataka under the BJP government has been known for some time. The role of the “Reddy brothers” of Bellary, both prominent BJP leaders and state ministers, in the affair has also been well known. Until now Yeddyurappa and the BJP government had been seen to be unable to stop these two barons of Bellary because of their money power and patronage of the saffron party. What the report of the Lokayukta and retired Supreme Court judge, Santosh Hegde, has done is to provide strong proof of the direct involvement of Yeddyurappa and his family in the illegal mining and export of iron ore. The report has also exposed the entire BJP government in Karnataka as corrupt. The two will only further degrade the attempts by the BJP to position itself as a credible alternative to the Congress at the centre. But given the large number of corruption cases the UPA itself is involved in, the Congress cannot be relieved at the BJP’s discomfiture. What the report has really done is to destroy the credibility of the principal opposition party with regard to corruption. This may cost it dearly in 2014. At the level of state politics, the Lokayukta report will also reverberate in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, where it may singe the political prospects of Congress rebel and former chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy’s son, Jaganmohan Reddy, who has close business relations with the BJP’s Reddy brothers of Karnataka. The AP Congress has already petitioned the courts to investigate the younger Reddy’s “source of wealth”.

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