On the dusty roads of Ballari, why has the ‘M’ word gone silent?
In Ballari, M stands for mining and surprisingly the word is silent today. No political party is raking up the issue and each one is hurling charges at each other.
The explosive report by the Lokayukta followed by the Supreme Court ruling and then a CBI probe has brought about some amount of semblance in Ballari which had seen illegal mining galore thanks to the sudden demand from China.
The official colour of Ballari had become red thanks to the scores of lorries carrying iron ore whizzing past the street. Houses had become red thanks to the dust and health of the people had taken a beating big time.
The mining issue raised the heat in the already hot Ballari in 2013, when the Congress romped home with an impressive victory. The party had gained big in Ballari, which was once a bastion of the BJP. It went to town with the illegal mining issue.
The Congress had taken out a 320-kilometre yatra on the illegal mining issue. This was the turning point for the Congress as it helped the party lead the charge against the BJP which was in disarray in 2013 with both B S Yeddyurappa and Ballari strongman, B Sriramulu walking out.
This year around with the Karnataka Assembly Elections just around the corner, the mining issue is not being spoken about much at least in the political circles. Street vendors and the general folk of Ballari refer to it in passing context, but it is not the main thing on their mind. After all, mining had done both good and harm to them. The good being generation of employment and the bad was the deterioration of Ballari and the bad name it got.
While the Congress bettered the BJP in 2013 while riding on the mining scam, this year around there is not much talk about it. The BJP is silent and has been targeting the corruption by the Congress.
The Congress, on the other hand, is completely silent about the mining issue owing to a large number of tainted persons it has taken into its fold. Former BJP MLAs, Anand Singh and B Nagendra who were arrested in the illegal mining case are with the Congress. The others who were hit by the mining scam who are in the Congress include Anil Lad, Santhosh Lad, Abdul Wahab and E Tukaram.
It is in fact quite ironic to note that the Congress President, Rahul Gandhi did not once refer to illegal mining when he kicked off Siddaramaiah's campaign with a rally in Hospet. Both Singh Nagendra who were implicated in the Lokayukta report on illegal mining shared the stage with Rahul Gandhi. The speech by Rahul Gandhi lasted a good half an hour, but the 'M' word was missing.