And now, external affairs minister Krishna in mining scam

The Karnataka Lokayukta police today registered first information reports against external affairs minister S M Krishna and two former Karnataka chief ministers, N Dharam Singh and H D Kumaraswamy, in connection with illegal mining.

While Dharam Singh is a Congress MP, Kumaraswamy belongs to the Janata Dal (Secular).

The FIRs were filed in connection with a private complaint filed by businessman and social activist T J Abraham before the Karnataka Lokayukta Court, which had, on Saturday, ordered a probe into the matter.

Judge N K Sudhindra Rao had directed Lokayukta Additional Director General of Police H N Satyanarayana Rao to conduct the probe under section 156(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPc) and submit the report by 6 January. The court also directed the police to register a case and probe Dharam Singh and Kumaraswamy.

Iron ore mining is perhaps the biggest revenue earner for Karnataka, capable of making or breaking political fortunes. So far the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has borne the bulk of the fallouts from illegal mining scams, with former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa forced to resign and former minister G Janardhan Reddy in custody. Now the Congress could well join the bandwagon.

The complaint accuses Krishna of destroying the state's natural resources for personal gain as chief minister between 1999 and 2004. The complainant described Krishna's decision to de-reserve forest areas as the beginning of the illegal mining scam. "He ignored the advice of the department secretary and ordered de-reservation. It led to all kinds of illegalities,'' the complaint stated.