Hyderabad: Two Andhra Pradesh ministers resigned on Monday after being named by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in a corruption probe against jailed Congress party rebel and Kadapa member of Parliament (MP) Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy.
State home minister P. Sabitha Indra Reddy and roads and buildings minister Dharmana Prasada Rao resigned after chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy returned from a four-day trip to New Delhi, where he held talks with the Congress party leadership that has embarked on an exercise to cleanse its image ahead of the 2014 polls.
The resignations, which were confirmed by the two ministers to media reporters, will be forwarded to state governor E.S.L. Narasimhan for acceptance.
Both the ministers were named as suspects by the CBI in its investigations of allegations that Jagan Mohan Reddy had amassed assets disproportionate to his known income during the five years that his father, the late Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, was chief minister of Andhra Pradesh. He was arrested on 27 May last year and jailed.
The senior Reddy, known as YSR, died in a September 2009 helicopter crash after leading the Congress to a second straight term in power in Andhra Pradesh. After being sidelined by the party leadership, Jagan Mohan Reddy gave up his Lok Sabha seat and resigned from the party in 2010, going on to win reelection to Parliament from Kadapa as a candidate of his newly formed YSR Congress in 2011.
Sabitha Indra Reddy, the first woman home minister in Andhra Pradesh and also the state’s first home minister to resign on corruption charges, was named in the fifth chargesheet for allegedly issuing limestone mining licences to cement companies in 2008 that in turn invested in Jagan Mohan Reddy’s businesses.
A CBI special court on 13 May summoned Sabitha Indra Reddy, charged under sections pertaining to criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust by a public servant and criminal misconduct, among others, and asked her to personally appear before it on 7 June.
Prasada Rao, a four-time state legislator from the Srikakulam assembly constituency, was named by the CBI in the fourth chargesheet in August for irregularities in land allotment.
“Ultimately they understood the unethical part of continuing in office,” said Madabushi Sridhar, a professor at the Nalsar University of Law. “Though late, it is a right step.”
Sridhar said the accusations of corruption during Rajasekhara Reddy’s rule were a blot against the entire party, and would affect it politically.
To be sure, in the aftermath of being named in the chargesheet, Rao had tendered his resignation which Kiran Kumar Reddy refused to accept, while Sabitha Indra Reddy was dissuaded from resigning by the chief minister.
Both the ministers said they have been cooperating with the CBI, and would establish their innocence in courts. “I have full faith in the judiciary and investigating agencies of this country,” Prasada Rao told waiting media after tendering his resignation.
Sabitha Indra Reddy insisted that she stuck to business rules while allocating mines. “We went by business rules, and did not derive any personal benefit,” she said in Telugu. “We have the opportunity to prove our innocence in courts, and we are confident of coming unscathed.”