New Delhi: Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa on Sunday absolved the Reddy brothers of any wrongdoing in the alleged illegal export of iron ore.
"There are no charges against the Reddy brothers. I give them clean chit; there is no case against them," Yeddyurappa told media persons in New Delhi on Sunday.
"Let the Lok Ayukta (ombudsman) probe the entire issue. We are ready for a thorough probe of the illegal mining issue in the state from 2003," he told reporters.
However, he did not say anything about a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the illegal mining, which the opposition is demanding.
The Karnataka Chief Minister's statement comes after G Janardhan Reddy and G Karuanakar Reddy met senior BJP leaders including Sushma Swaraj. They also met Yeddyurappa at the Karnataka Bhavan in the national capital on Sunday.
After the meeting, a defiant Janardhan Reddy dismissed the possibility of he and his brother, Karnataka Revenue Minister G Karunakara, resigning from the state Cabinet.
He said that the party was united on the issue and that there was no reason for them to resign.
"We are united. It was courtesy call. No one has summoned us. We have already met all top leaders and explained them our stand. If the opposition party proves the charges we will resign. Why should we resign on just allegations?" said Reddy.
He also threatened to hold a pad yatra (march) from Bellary to Mysore to counter the Congress' similar yatra.
The meeting between the Reddy brothers and the Chief Minister at the Karnataka Bhawan in New Delhi came a day after Yeddyurappa held a series of meetings with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Home Minister P Chidambaram, senior BJP leaders L K Advani and Nitin Gadkari.
The BJP leadership is caught in the horns of dilemma of saving its government in Karnataka and at the same time ensuring that its image, in the face of the charges made against the Reddy brothers is not sullied.
Senior BJP leader L K Advani had earlier asked the Karnataka party unit to make all efforts to save its first government in the South in case the party has to act against Tourism Minister G Janardhan Reddy and Revenue Minister G Karunakar Reddy in the wake of stepped up opposition to their continuance in government.
Who are the Reddy brothers?
The Reddy brothers, Tourism Minister G Janardhana Reddy, his elder brother and Revenue Minister G Karunakara Reddy, and younger brother and assembly member G Somashekara Reddy, are accused of large-scale illegal mining in Bellary as well as neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.
The brothers own the Obulapuram Mining Company.
Between 2003 and now, over 30 million tonnes of iron ore has been illegally mined and exported from Karnataka causing a huge revenue loss. Congress and JD-S claim that the illegal mining scam is worth around Rs.60,000 crore (Rs. 600 billion).
(With PTI, IANS and CNN-IBN inputs)