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One down for Siddaramaiah govt as Nagendra quits over embezzlement row

Nagendra's resignation is embarrassing as it pertains to a case of graft while the ruling Congress came to power by accusing the previous BJP government of corruption.
Last Updated : 06 June 2024, 10:05 IST
Last Updated : 06 June 2024, 10:05 IST

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Bengaluru: Karnataka Scheduled Tribes Welfare, Youth Empowerment & Sports Minister B Nagendra resigned on Thursday in connection with embezzlement of taxpayers' money at a state-run corporation, dealing a blow to the Siddaramaiah administration that has completed a year in office.

Nagendra's resignation is embarrassing as it pertains to a case of graft while the ruling Congress came to power by accusing the previous BJP government of corruption.

"I don't want to cause any embarrassment to the CM, the Deputy CM or party president Mallikarjun Kharge. And, I'm resigning on my own accord, not under any duress or pressure," Nagendra told a news conference before handing over his resignation letter to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.

The Opposition BJP was gunning for Nagendra's sacking. Earlier in the day, the BJP went to Governor Thaawarchand Gehlot with a petition seeking the minister's resignation.

Nagendra had to go after his 'close aide' was arrested by a special investigation team (SIT) in the unauthorised transfer of Rs 89.62 crore belonging to the Karnataka Maharshi Valmiki ST Development Corporation. The Corporation functions under Nagendra's department. The government had earlier suspended Corporation managing director JG Padmanabh and accounts officer Parashuram Durgannanavar.

It was only after Corporation accounts superintendent Chandrashekhar died by suicide that the embezzlement was exposed. He left behind a note blowing the lid off the scam and named officials. The note also claimed that there were "oral orders" by the minister to move the funds.

"The SIT is investigating the case. If I continue in office, they (investigators) may face difficulties," Nagendra said, adding that there must be a free and fair probe. He expressed confidence of returning to the Cabinet after being cleared in the investigation. "In fact, the CM was stubborn against me resigning. He said there was no need and that I'm innocent," he claimed.

The lawmaker urged the government to look into similar scams that took place when the BJP was in power. He said there are allegations against former ministers B Sriramulu, Kota Srinivas Poojary and Govind Karjol.

On Wednesday, Siddaramaiah held talks with Nagendra. Earlier on Thursday, Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar said he discussed the matter with Home Minister G Parameshwara and Nagendra. "Nagendra isn't involved in the scam, but he offered to resign in the interest of the party and government," he said. He further surmised that no minister would dare to misuse such a large amount of money. "It's not easy," he said.

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Published 06 June 2024, 10:05 IST

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