After the exit of two Union ministers Pawan Kumar Bansal and Ashwani Kumar, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) leadership appears to have turned its focus on purging Congress-ruled states of tainted leaders.
In the backdrop of mounting Opposition campaign, the Congress high command has decided to remove three ministers in Andhra Pradesh who are facing corruption charges.
Home Minister P Sabita Indra Reddy and Roads and Buildings Minister D Prasada Rao have been charge sheeted by the CBI in an illegal assets case involving the jailed MP and YSR Congress president Jaganmohan Reddy.
Secondary Education Minister K Parthasarathi was recently convicted by a sessions court in a case relating to the violation of Foreign Exchange Management Act.
Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy was summoned to the national capital and was advised to drop the three ministers and work to refurbish the party’s image ahead of the 2014 Assembly elections.
Reddy held a series of meetings with central leaders, including party president Sonia Gandhi, during his three-day stay.
According to sources, the high command, while making it clear that tainted ministers must be shown the door, left it to the chief minister to decide the time.
The chief minister is in favour of retaining the ministers. He reportedly argued that their removal at this stage would have a negative political fallout, particularly when the party has a wafer-thin majority in the Assembly.
“The party has decided to take a tough stand on corruption. We expect ministers facing charges to voluntarily step down or else they will be removed. The timing has been left to the chief minister,” the party sources said.
Sabita Indra Reddy, the first woman home minister of Andhra Pradesh, is among the accused in granting of limestone mining lease to Dalmia Cements in 2008 when she was mines and geology minister in the YSR cabinet.
Prasada Rao is among the accused in the illegal allotment of land to a private company for a port development project. A special CBI court here has issued summons to Sabita and 12 others to appear before it on June 7.
It is the first time in the state’s history that a home minister has been summoned to appear in a court in a corruption case.
She is the third minister after M Venkata Ramana and Prasada Rao to have figured in the CBI charge sheets. Of them, Venkata Ramana is already in jail. Though the ministers have offered to resign, the chief minister had asked them to continue.
Meanwhile, Telugu Desam Party president N Chandrababu Naidu will be meeting President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday to submit a memorandum seeking the dismissal of the tainted ministers.