Andhra Pradesh secondary education minister K Parthasarathy refused to step down from his post on Thursday, even as Opposition parties raised their pitch for his resignation or dismissal after a local court sentenced him to a two-month jail term in a FERA violation case.
He pleaded his innocence after he met chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy this evening and "explained" his case.
"I have not indulged in any immoral act. Moreover, the case was registered when I was not even in public life," he said, claiming that he did not violate any FERA provision.
He said he would file an appeal in the high court against his conviction by a special court for economic offences.
The issue, which has pushed the Reddy government into further embarrassment, has now been noticed by the Congress high command, which is expected to take a call, after obtaining details from the chief minister and other sources.
However, more trouble appears to be in store for Parthasarathy, as he concealed the fact that a FERA violation case was pending against him since 1999, when he was managing director of KPR Tele Products, while contesting elections in 2004 and 2009.
In sworn affidavits filed along with his nomination papers in 2004 and 2009, he did not mention anything about the FERA case against him though charges were framed in 2001.
In his 2004 affidavit, where he was supposed to list the criminal case which was pending at the time, he left the relevant form blank, while in 2009, he wrote 'nil' and 'not applicable' in the relevant column, sources said.
Election Commission sources said concealing facts in sworn affidavits could attract a jail term of up to six months or penalty, or both.
"The EC will, of course, act only if a specific complaint is made in this regard. Suo moto action is unlikely," a source said.
Meanwhile, the TDP and the CPI demanded that the minister immediately resign from his post or be dismissed forthwith.
"Parthasarathy should quit immediately if he has any moral values," CPI state secretary K Narayana demanded, while TDP politburo member Kadiyam Srihari said the minister should not only be sacked over his conviction, but also be disqualified for filing false affidavits during elections.