Janardhan Reddy, Mining Kingpin Disowned By Amit Shah, Campaigns For BJP

Janardhan Reddy spent three years in jail over multiple charges of corruption and illegal mining listed by the CBI.

Karnataka Assembly Election 2018: Janardhan Reddy, who was jailed for corruption, is campaigning for BJP

Bellari, Karnataka: Gali Janardhan Reddy, a notorious politician that BJP president Amit Shah disowned emphatically just days ago, is out on the streets of north Karnataka, campaigning for the party. "I am working for the BJP," said the 49-year-old, out on bail since 2015.

Janardhan Reddy spent three years in jail over multiple charges of corruption and illegal mining listed by the CBI. The former minister has resurfaced in the campaign for the May 12 Karnataka election.

He has been barred from entering his home-town Ballari, the heart of his mining empire. But on Wednesday, he was seen just outside the district, campaigning for his friend V Sriramulu, the BJP candidate in Molakalmuru.

Janardhan Reddy's roadshow in Chitradurga, around 100 km from Ballari, was unmistakably a BJP affair, complete with the party colours in flags, banners and scarves. Lest there be any doubt, his younger brother Somasekhar Reddy gushed: "BJP is the mother of all Reddy brothers. All three Reddys are in the BJP."

The "king of Ballari" - as the senior Reddy brother is sometimes nicknamed - calls the charges against him "entirely political". 

Speaking to NDTV in the middle of his roadshow, "After nine years, there is no proof of illegality against me," he said.

Last month, responding to media questions, Amit Shah said the "BJP has nothing to do with Janardhan Reddy."

A saffron scarf around his neck and a smile on his face, Janardhan Reddy dodged a question on the BJP chief's denial. "No controversy questions please. Be positive," he said.

The Reddy brothers enjoyed top billing when the BJP formed a government in Karnataka in 2008, the party's first in the south.

But soon, they became an embarrassment for the BJP as allegations of corruption peaked against them.

Vivek Reddy, a Karnataka BJP leader, said: "He is not involved in the ticket distribution or decision making. He is not in the core committee of the party. If he wants to help his friend out, what is wrong?" 

Pressed, Mr Reddy said Janardhan Reddy had gone in his "personal, individual capacity."

A businessman-turned-politician, Janardhan Reddy is one of the most powerful men in Karnataka. In 2011, during raids, the CBI found in his luxe bungalow an indoor swimming pool facing a 70 mm screen, a massage parlour, a bar and a bomb shelter. The investigators also found gold-plated dishes worth lakhs of rupees. His wealth made more news when in 2016, his daughter's outrageously extravagant wedding, complete with and LCD screen invite, filmstars and a themed wedding "village".