In Indian mining town, nexus between politics and crime plays out

Apr 22 2014, 18:43 IST
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SummaryStooping to feed grain to a black cow as a religious offering at his unfinished mansion, Indian politician and rags-to-riches millionaire B.

three years ago and several politicians close to him imprisoned.

"In Bellary the mining has stopped. There is no flow of money, they are facing a very bad situation," said the candidate, who rejoined the BJP in March after resigning at the height of the mining scandal.

Sreeramulu's return split the BJP, with a top party leader who used to be his mentor publicly disagreeing with the decision to welcome him back. A BJP spokeswoman said the party offered Sreeramulu an election ticket because he had not been charged in the mining case that blights Bellary to this day.

She did not mention the eight offences he has been charged with, and said a key factor in choosing him was his strong support among populous tribal groups in the area.

The BJP's Narendra Modi - the man opinion polls show is most likely to be next prime minister - has promised to end corruption scandals that dogged the government led by the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty's Congress party over the past decade.

He said last week that, if elected, he would rule on all criminal cases against politicians within 12 months. Often such cases languish in over-stretched courts for years.

EIGHT HOUR COUNT

Sreeramulu said he stuck to official spending limits. He said local government and election officials were unfairly targeting his campaign with video surveillance of his house and a series of raids on BJP workers.

He denied any links to the $1.4 million haul that police found stuffed into two wardrobes and metal trunks in 50,000-rupee bundles believed to be destined for polling stations, officials said. The cash took eight hours to count.

Anil Lad, a wealthy Bellary miner and local legislator for the Congress party, was candid about the pressure to breach spending limits to win campaigns. He said there were not enough candidates who were both rich and clean.

"If you ask me its not the politicians who are corrupt, it's the situation that makes them corrupt," Lad said.

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