NEW DELHI: Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj has refuted charges that she is a protector of the mining barons Bellary brothers and played a role in their induction into the Karnataka cabinet.
“There cannot be a bigger lie. Let me tell you the truth, I have no hand in the political making of the Bellary brothers. I had nothing to do in making them ministers or building up their stature as political leaders,” Swaraj said in an interview to a weekly magazine Outlook.
The Bellary brothers, Janardhan, Karunakar and Somashekhar Reddy, are said to be close to Swaraj and reportedly enjoy her patronage. The proximity between Swaraj and Reddy brothers- who say they respect her as a family elder- has been since the former contested against Congress President Sonia Gandhi from Bellary in 1999.
However, Swaraj denied that she was responsible for induction of the Bellary brothers, who are known detractors of Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, into the state cabinet.
“When Bellary brothers were made ministers, (Arun) Jaitley was in-charge and Yeddyurappa was Chief Minister.
Venkaiah (Naidu) and Ananth Kumar were there as senior leaders. Whatever discussions happened, happened between these people. I had nothing to do with it,” Swaraj said.
Janardhan and Karunakar Reddy are cabinet ministers in Karnataka. Somashekhar is in-charge of a government body with ministerial status.
“My total interaction with the Reddy brothers is limited to one day in the year, when I go to Bellary for the puja of Varamahalakshmi. For the remaining 364 days, we have no conversation or communication,” she said.
Swaraj, in fact, maintained that she was opposed to the Reddy brothers becoming cabinet ministers.
“I was opposed to their appointment as ministers, opposed to three members of a family being made ministers. But they (Jaitley, Naidu and Kumar) had some political compulsions which made them appoint the brothers,” she said.
However, Swaraj accepted that when there was a rebellion in Karnataka BJP in 2009 and the government was on the verge of falling, she did talk to the Reddy brothers to placate them. But she maintained she did so after then party president Rajnath Singh and in-charge Jaitley asked her to do so.