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Tainted AP ministers quit, insist they are innocent

Hyderabad, May 20, 2013, DHNS: 1:18 IST
Dharmana and Sabitha address the media outside Andhra Pradesh chief minister's residence on Monday. Chary
Andhra Pradesh Home Minister P Sabitha Indra Reddy and Roads and Buildings Minister Dharmana Prasada Rao, both named in the CBI charge sheets in the disproportionate assets case against Jaganmohan Reddy, quit the Cabinet on Sunday night after Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy failed to convince the Congress high command to retain them.

The chief minister had summoned the two ministers to his official residence which led to speculations that they may have submitted their resignations on Sunday night though there was no official word confirming the report. In fact, Dharmana submitted his resignation in August and Sabitha in April after the CBI booked them in the Jagan case.

However, the chief minister kept the resignations in abeyance, pending directive from the high command.

Both ministers, who had served in the Cabinet of Jaganmohan Reddy's father Y S Rajasekhara Reddy (2004-09), have been accused of favouring companies which invested in Jagan’s ventures. The demand for their sacking gathered momentum after two Union ministers, Ashwani Kumar and Pawan Kumar Bansal, resigned the Central Cabinet following scams.

Sources said though Dharmana and Sabita agreed to quit, they appear to be keen on showing their strength to the party high command. On Monday, Sabita's followers in RR district and Dharmana's followers in Srikakulam district took to the streets demanding that their resignations be rejected. “Is this the reward for loyalty to the party,” they asked.

It is learnt that Dharmana’s followers had decided to show to the Congress high command that the party would have no existence in Srikakulam district but for him. They are going to use his birthday on Tuesday to show the strength of their leader. Meanwhile, Sabita’s followers have also decided to protest her sacking.

Sabitha told media on Sunday that she gave her resignation letter to the chief minister 20 days ago. She denied news reports that she submitted her resignation on Sunday. She would abide by any decision taken by the high command. Dharmana demanded a speedy trial to save their political career.

“We have not committed any mistakes. We had strictly followed the rules and procedures and all the decisions regarding land allotments and mining leases were taken by the (YSR) Cabinet collectively. However, as loyal leaders of the Congress, we are quitting the cabinet to uphold certain principles. We are confident of proving our innocence in the courts,” the two ministers told reporters after meeting the chief minister.

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