Gali Janardhana Reddy is one of the richest politicians of India. He has been implicated in the massive illegal mining scandal in Bellary. Janardhana Reddy is at the center of the illegal iron-ore mining controversy in the Karnataka government.
Gali Janardhana Reddy born 11 January 1967 In 2009, a Supreme Court of India-appointed central empowerment committee recommended action against Reddy-owned Obulampuram Mining Company. An FIR in the case was filed with the Central Bureau of Investigation. Also, the Lokayukta for Karnataka, retired Justice of the Supreme Court Santosh Hegde, had also indited him and his two powerful brothers, all of whom were cabinet ministers at the time, in the mining scam.
Gali Janardhana Reddy Biography
The journey of the son of a normal police constable, from an ordinary BJP worker who rode a bicycle to becoming a mining baron owning two helicopters, a Rolls and a fleet of SUVs and a minister in the Karnataka Cabinet with power to make or break the government has been nothing less than spectacular.
The 44-year-old Gali Janardhana Reddy, lived the life of a king, with Bellary as his fiefdom. He could be forgiven if he nursed fantasies of being a reincarnation of Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagara empire. Indeed, he used his clout as minister to get the government to spend Rs 30 crore on the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the coronation of the Vijayanagara king.
The heady rise began when Janardhana and his brothers, along with close associate B Sriramulu, entered politics and mining, roughly at the same time in the late nineties.
With the international price for iron ore skyrocketing, the export of ore from Bellary too increased and so also the wealth of Gali Janardhana Reddy. Anecdotes abound about how the Reddys and Sriramulu used to helihop to Bangalore in one of their three choppers, for lunch. Iron brought gold, and Reddy was known to buy gold in bulk – 30 kg was found by CBI on Monday.
Gali Janardhana Reddy flaunted wealth. He made his donation of a Rs 45-crore diamond studded crown to the presiding deity at Tirumala. He also acquired a golden peta (turban) besides a gown woven with gold thread. He got a special golden throne made by famed jewellers Krishnaiah Chetty & Sons of Bangalore, whose worth is not known. Like the king he admired, he went on a spree of conquests, not provinces but mining firms and mining pits and eventually the entire Bellary district.
During his humbler past, Gali Janardhana Reddy floated a finance firm called Ennoble Finances and also established a Kannada daily – Ee Namma Kannada Nadu. He was the publisher and reporter for the paper. He entered the mining business in 2003. With help from then chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, Y S Rajashekara Reddy, the mining business of Janardhana Reddy through Obulapuram Mining Company (OMC) flourished. Janardhana’s elder brother Karunakara Reddy, and Sriramulu, too were at one time the directors of OMC.
In 1999, when Sushma Swaraj of the BJP challenged Sonia Gandhi who was contesting in Bellary, it was the Reddy brothers and Sriramulu who were the stormtroopers. They became very close to to her, and used to call her their “mother”.
With her blessings, and that of many central BJP leaders, the Bellary trio became cabinet ministers when the BJP came to power in Karnataka. While Janardhana Reddy was in-charge minister of the iron-ore rich Bellary district, besides holding the tourism portfolio, Karunakara Reddy held the key revenue portfolio. Sriramulu was the health minister. The trio wielded considerable influence over the first-ever BJP government in the State.
Illegal mining in Bellary was so rampant that the Karnataka Lokayukta has dedicated about 10 chapters on the role of “GJR Sir” in the report on illegal mining. The anti-corruption ombudsman has severely indicted the Bellary trio in its report and recommended further probe by enforcement agencies. The Lokayukta has also described Bellary under the rule of “GJR Sir” as “Republic of Bellary” and explained in detail how administration in the district was misused and abused to allow illegal mining thrive.
In the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, then chief minister late Y S Rajashekara Reddy and his son Jaganmohan Reddy were close to the Reddy brothers. It was the late YSR who recommended grant of the controversial mining lease at Malpangudi area in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh to OMC, owned by the Reddy brothers, in 2004.
Serious charges of alleged illegal activities against OMC were made as early as 2006. The company had alleged involved in encroachment of reserve forest land, illegal mining, encroachment of neighbouring mines, construction of illegal roads in the forest areas, tampering with the inter-state boundary and illegal transportation of iron ore. But no action was initiated to probe the charges, let alone stop it.
However, the unexpected death of YSR in 2009 came as a severe jolt to the Reddys. With Jagan taking the Congress head on on the leadership issue, many dubious financial transactions between the Reddys and Jagan started coming to the fore.
In November 2009, the then chief minister of AP K Rosaiah ordered a CBI probe into the allegations of illegal mining. The Reddys had initially managed to get a stay on CBI probe from the AP High Court.
But the stay was subsequently vacated, paving the way for the CBI to launch an investigation into the issue.
YSR’s death marked the downfall of the Reddys brothers. Their political mentor in the BJP Sushma Swaraj subsequently distanced herself from them. The Reddys were also kept out of the new State Cabinet headed D V Sadananada Gowda in Karnataka for being indicted in the Lokayukta report.
Janardhana, who was arrested by the CBI at his residence on charges of illegal mining, had for long succeeded in dodging law enforcement agencies by using his political clout. But with his political power slowly weakening following the death of YSR in a chopper crash, the empire of “the GJR Sir”, as he is known in the Bellary mining circles, is near collapse.