Karnataka polls: BJP ‘compromises’, fields scam-tainted Reddy brother

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Karnataka polls: BJP ‘compromises’, fields scam-tainted Reddy brother

New Delhi: The second list of 82 candidates released by the BJP on Monday evening for the upcoming assembly elections in Karnataka, contained surprise candidate – Gali Somashekhara Reddy fielded from Bellary City – which drew immediate criticism from the Congress.

52-year-old G Somashekhara Reddy is the youngest of Reddy brothers, mining barons for whom the iron ore-rich district of Bellary was home turf.

Talking to NDTV, Karnataka BJP spokesperson Vivek Reddy said that the party has “made a compromise” by fielding him since it wanted to win the Bellary sea.

Mining baron Gali Janardhan Reddy was a minister in the BS Yeddyurappa government, who is leading the BJP campaign in Karnataka.

Reddy was removed after massive corruption charges involving illegal mining in 2011.

Somasekhara Reddy, who represented Bellary in the assembly, is accused of bribing a judge in the cash-for bail case that involved Janardhan Reddy. He is currently out on bail.

Soon after the BJP second list was out, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala tweeted

The Congress leader was referring to a recent slip of tongue by BJP president Amit Shah during a meeting in Karnataka. Though Amit Shah had quickly corrected himself, it didn’t check the rapid circulation of the video clip on social media, mostly by Congress supporters.

On Monday, Vivek Reddy said the BJP has “avoided drafting” any candidate convicted of corruption.

“Katta Subramanya Naidu and Krishnaiah Shetty were not given any seats in the last assembly elections because they were facing criminal charges. They have now been acquitted,” he said, referring to the party’s two senior leaders who have been given ticket this time from Shivaji Nagar and Malur.

Regarding Somashekhara Reddy, he said, “I think the party has made one compromise in order to ensure that we win the seat… it is not across the board like Congress… there are 67 complaints against Siddaramaiah”.

G Janardhan Reddy, who is now out on bail after spending three years in jail, hosted a lavish wedding reception for his daughter in 2016, weeks after the Centre announced demonetisation. Estimates of the costs for the function — which included replicas of famous temples and 50,000 guests – varied from 30 to 500 crore rupees.

It’s not just Reddy, the list with 82 names released by the BJP on Monday also has candidates who were acquitted in corruption, forgery, cheating and rape cases.

At least two of them had spent quite some time in jail on charges of cheating and forgery.

The names that have raised eyebrows are Katta Subramanya Naidu and Krishnaiah Setty who were jailed in land scams but acquitted later. Setty, who will contest from Malur, was BJP’s chief ministerial candidate B S Yeddyurappa’s companion in jail as he was a co-accused in a multi-crore land scam in 2011.

On the other hand, Katta Subramanya Naidu, who has been given ticket from Shivajinagar constituency, was jailed on charges of a land scam involving his firm Itasca in 2011. The charges against Naidu were that as a minister, he knew about an industrial project of the Karnataka Industrial Area Development Authority near Kempegowda International Airport and tried to make a windfall gain by entering into an agreement with the land losers.

The party gave ticket to Haratalu Halappa to contest from Sagar constituency. He has been acquitted in a rape case. He was accused of raping his friend’s wife in Shivamogga in 2009. The court dismissed the case for want of evidence.

M P Renukacharya, who will fight the electoral battle from Honnalli, was accused of sexually harassing a nurse when he was a minister in Yeddyurappa’s ministry. The minister later said the nurse withdrew cases against him.

The BJP has also given ticket to party-hopper N L Narendra Babu, who was with the Congress. Babu had been hinting at his entry for the past six months. He had even attended the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s Dharma Sansad at Udupi last year. In power from 2008 to 2013, BJP is hoping to unseat the Congress government and stage a comeback.

On April 8, the BJP declared its first list of 72 candidates which included its chief ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa, and senior leaders KS Eshwarappa and Jagadish Shettar.

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