Congress protests, seeks removal of Karnataka forest minister Anand Singh from ministry
Karnataka Congress chief Siddaramaiah has demanded that Anand Singh be given another portfolio or removed from CM Yediyurappa’s Cabinet
Bengaluru: The Congress has hit out at chief minister for appointing Anand Singh, a businessman with mining interests, as forest minister and threatened to raise the issue during the upcoming Assembly session.
Leader of Opposition (LoP) and Congress leader Siddaramaiah said if one is giving the ministership of a department under which he is facing cases, it will look like the government is openly supporting corruption.
He demanded that either the chief minister has to immediately change his portfolio, or Singh himself should resign.
Terming Yediyurappa's decision as wrong as there are cases against Singh under the very department he will be heading, state Congress president Dinesh Gundu Rao said his portfolios should be changed immediately, or else it will lead to suspicion.
"It is the chief minister's duty to showcase transparency and honesty in the administration," he said, adding that his party will raise the issue in the Assembly, if the action is not taken immediately.
Singh, one among the newly elected BJP legislators after defecting from Congress and facing disqualification, was inducted into the ministry by Yediyurappa on February 6 and initially given the food, civil Supplies and consumers affairs portfolio on February 10.
Buckling under pressure from some newly inducted ministers, reportedly including Singh, who were unhappy with portfolios allocated to them, the chief minister the very next day reallocated certain portfolios, which included appointing him as minister for forest, ecology and environment.
However, Singh, on his part has maintained that the portfolio was allocated to him by the chief minister and that he did not ask for it.
Singh's election affidavit filed ahead of the December 2019 bypolls says he has 15 cases pending against him, as also offences under the Indian Penal Code and the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, to be read with violations of the Karnataka Forest Act.
He was arrested by CBI in 2013 in connection with alleged illegal export of iron ore from Belikeri port in Karnataka, and in 2015 by the Special Investigation Team of the Karnataka Lokayukta on charges of illegal transportation of iron ore.
Two of Singh's Cabinet colleagues Laxman Savadi and CT Ravi have come out in his defence, stating that cases against him were still being probed and not proven.
However, BJP as a party chose not to comment on the issue.
Singh, who was a close associate of tainted mining baron G Janardhana Reddy, was in the Congress party before defecting to the BJP recently.