New Delhi: Mining baron Gali Janardhan Reddy returned to Karnataka’s Bellary after five years and two months on November 1. More than 10,000 people had lined up to receive him in his former fiefdom after he got the court’s permission to visit Bellary to make preparations for his daughter’s wedding.
Janardhan Reddy, who was arrested on September 5, 2011, spent four years in Hyderabad and Bengaluru jails before being released on bail last year on the condition that he will not visit Bellary and Ananthpur districts.
The reception was in stark contrast to the one received on the day of his release from Bengaluru central prison a year ago. When Reddy and two of his associates came out of jail, there was no one to receive them except some die-hard supporters. According to his close circle, not a single BJP leader received his calls or agreed to meet him for almost a year.
Situation was so bad that even his own elder brother and former Karnataka minister G Karunakara Reddy avoided meeting him.
Speaking to News18 on condition of anonymity, one of his personal assistants said, “Sir (Janardhan Reddy) went into depression. He came out of jail and there was no one to listen to him, console him or support him. He told us that he had lost all interest in politics and public life. He just wanted to focus on his court cases and migrate to a foreign country.”
A shrewd operator, Reddy did not want his “reign” to end like this. Away from the public glare, he quietly started working on a revival plan and realised that his daughter’s wedding would be the best opportunity to prove that he still matters in Karnataka politics, the source said.
A month ago, he released the expensive wedding invitation of his daughter Brahmani. It was embedded with an auto play video featuring the bride and groom costing over Rs.10000 per card. The people of Karnataka who had seen his opulence and show off during the BJP regime reacted in horror and social media was full of negative comments.
Unfazed, he distributed the invitation card to important personalities in state politics. He personally went to invite former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.
After inviting state BJP president and former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa, his one-time tormentor Janardhan Reddy grandly announced that he will make all possible efforts to bring him back as the chief minister again. Yeddyurappa, who had vowed not to deal with Janardhan Reddy again, nodded approvingly. The deal was done and the past was buried.
The much talked about Reddy wedding will be held at the historic Bangalore palace on November 16. Reddy is expecting over 50,000 guests from all over the country. As his old friends say, for him it is not just his daughter’s wedding but a first big step towards regaining the clout and stature he lost in a humiliating manner five years ago.
According his old rival in Bellary politics and a senior Congress leader K C Kondaiah, the Reddys were never bothered about the public opinion. Speaking to News18, he said “They believe that all publicity is good publicity. Four years in jail does not seem to have ended his ego and ambition. By using his daughter’s wedding he is trying to stage a comeback. The BJP which had distanced itself from him is once again entertaining him. I fear that he will play a big role once again in the 2018 Assembly polls. It won’t be a good news for our state.”
But not everyone is amused by return of the Reddys. Senior Karnataka minister K R Ramesh Kumar has issued a public statement requesting the political leaders not to attend the wedding.
Speaking to News18, he said, “It is a shame. We all know how he has made money. No leader with self-respect should attend the wedding.”
But there are many who have no issues with attending the mega wedding which is estimated to cost over Rs.100 crore. Speaking to News18, Yeddyurappa said that he was going to attend the wedding. He said “I don’t want to comment on what happened in the past. It is a wedding and I am going to attend.”
Many Congress leaders News18 spoke to confirmed that they have received the invitation and will decide later on whether to go or not. But most BJP and JDS leaders said that they would be attending the wedding. But in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, his one time friends and partners are wary of rubbing their shoulders with him once again. A powerful AP leader refused to give him an appointment saying that he can receive the invitation only if CM N Chandrababu Naidu was invited.
In his home state of Karnataka, Janardhan Reddy is facing no such problem. A top Karnataka minister who has received the invitation said, “We really don’t know what is going to happen in 2018 Assembly polls. Janardhana Reddy is going to foot BJP’s election bill. If BJP comes to power, he will regain the clout. I am planning to attend the wedding. I can tell the public that I went out of courtesy, it does not mean that we endorse his politics.”
Apart from the CBI, the Supreme Court appointed Special Investigating Team (SIT) is also probing Janardhana Reddy’s illegal mining business. An IPS officer who personally interrogated him told News18 that some unknown people were managing the witnesses and a mega wedding like this can scare the remaining witnesses.
“If all big politicians attend the wedding, naturally the witnesses will get scared and they may turn hostile helping Reddy to come out clean.”
According to his close circle invitation has also been sent all top serving and retired IAS and IPS officers in Karnataka.
“We don’t know how many of them will attend. But wedding card has been sent to all” Reddy’s assistant said. All well-known journalists in Karnataka have also got the invitation card.
Total wedding cost: Rs 50 crores approximatelyÂ
Location and installation Of the wedding location: Rs 5 crores
Invitation cards: Rs 1 crore (approximate)
Event management: Rs 10 crores
Wedding finery and transportation of guests: Rs 20 crores
Reddy has mortgaged 10 of his properties to borrow close to Rs 30 crores.
He has also pledged a few of his properties in Singapore for the wedding.
Reddy has said that he will show all bills for the wedding after the event is over.
3,000 bouncers, including special security on location, have been employed at the Bangalore Palace ground.
300 police personnel have been employed for the VVIPs to attend the wedding.
Sniffer dogs and bomb squads have been deployed on location for the day of the wedding.
As many as eight priests from the famous Tirupati Thirumala temple have been brought in to perform the rituals.
The priests will perform pooja of Lord Venkateshwara, the family deity, and the main pooja will be performed by Janardhan Reddy and his family at the Purandara Mantapa, a replica of the famous temple from Hampi.
The Bangalore Palace grounds has been transformed into a mini-town of Bellary with the focus on landmarks such as the Cowl Bazaar, Dhanappa Beedi street, the village in Bellary, and the school which Reddy studied in has also been recreated.
Two houses, one for the bridegroom’s family and the other for the bride’s has been built.
The guests especially the VVIPs will be ferried from the entrance to the Mantap area on cushioned bullock carts.
The centrepiece of the wedding is a Vijayanagara styled temple built by Bollywood art directors and the dining area is set like a traditional village in Bellary.
As part of the four-day ritual, Reddy and family landed at the venue on palace grounds in Bangalore in a special chartered plane decked in wedding finery.
Gali Janardhan Reddy is known as one of the richest politicians of Karnataka who has served term after being chagresheeted illegal mining in the state. Reddy is presently out on bail.