Karnataka minister steps down amid charges of illegal fund diversion | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Karnataka minister steps down amid charges of illegal fund diversion

Jun 07, 2024 07:12 AM IST

Karnataka’s scheduled tribes welfare minister B Nagendra on Thursday resigned from his post following allegations of his involvement in illegal diversion of large sum of funds from a state-run tribal development corporation into private bank accounts.

Karnataka’s scheduled tribes welfare minister B Nagendra on Thursday resigned from his post following allegations of his involvement in illegal diversion of large sum of funds from a state-run tribal development corporation into private bank accounts.

Karnataka scheduled tribes welfare and youth empowerment and sports department minister B Nagendra tenders resignation from his ministerial post to chief minister Siddaramaiah, in Bengaluru on Thursday. (ANI)
Karnataka scheduled tribes welfare and youth empowerment and sports department minister B Nagendra tenders resignation from his ministerial post to chief minister Siddaramaiah, in Bengaluru on Thursday. (ANI)

He handed over his resignation to chief minister Siddaramaiah on Thursday night in the presence of deputy CM and state Congress president DK Shivakumar. “I am voluntarily resigning from the post of minister,” read the one-line resignation letter.

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The development came amid mounting pressure from the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, who held a protest rally in Bengaluru on Thursday demanding his resignation.

Before putting in his papers, the Bellary Rural legislator, who also serves as the state’s youth empowerment and sports minister, held a press conference to announce his decision, saying there was no external pressure on him to resign.

“No one pressured me to resign. With my conscience and to ensure that people are not misled about me. I have voluntarily decided to resign,” Nagendra told reporters.

The four-time legislator said he did not want to cause any embarrassment to chief minister Siddaramaiah, deputy CM Shivakumar, or party’s national president Mallikarjun Kharge.

“With my own free will, I’m resigning... The SIT is probing the case, there should be a fair investigation. If I remain in the ministerial post during the probe, it may cause problems. Considering this, I have come to this decision,” the Congress leader said, terming the charges against him as “baseless” and expressing confidence that he will come out as “innocent”.

It came almost a fortnight after the alleged misappropriation of funds in the state-run Karnataka Maharshi Valmiki Scheduled Tribes Development Corporation (KMVSTDC) came to light following the suicide a 45-year-old accounts superintendent of the corporation on May 26. The official had left a purported suicide note that revealed the unauthorised transfer of 187 crore belonging to the corporation from its bank account, and from that, 88.62 crore was illegally moved to various accounts allegedly belonging to “well-known” IT companies and a Hyderabad-based cooperative bank.

The deceased had named the corporation’s now-suspended managing director JG Padmanabh, accounts officer Parashuram G Durugannavar, and Union Bank of India chief manager Suchismita Rawal in the note, while also stating that the “minister” had issued oral orders for transferring the funds.

The funds were allegedly transferred to accounts in Union Bank of India, which filed a complaint with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The federal agency has already filed an FIR in the case.

Earlier in the day, Siddaramaiah told reporters that he had not asked Nagendra to resign. “I spoke to Nagendra, but it does not mean that I asked him to resign,” he said.

Shivakumar said the chief minister will take a call on the minister’s resignation after discussing with the Congress high command.

“There is no need for anyone demanding (resignation), we — myself, chief minister and home minister – have discussed with the minister (Nagendra). He has assured that he is not involved in anything. But in the interest of the party and the government, he doesn’t want to embarrass the party, he himself has offered to resign from the ministership,” the state Congress chief said. “The chief minister after discussing with the Congress high command, will take a call.”

Last week, the Congress-led state government had constituted a special investigation team (SIT) to probe into the alleged misappropriation of funds.

On Thursday, the BJP held a protest in Bengaluru, with the party’s state unit chief Vijayendra Yediyurappa questioning Siddaramaiah’s “hesitation” in accepting Nagendra’s resignation.

“We have been hearing about his resignation for the last couple of days, but the concerned minister, B Nagendra, continues to be a minister even today. My question is — why is the chief minister hesitating to accept Nagendra’s resignation? When hundreds of crores have been transferred to Hyderabad and fake accounts have been created by officials... I don’t think any official will do all this without the consent of the concerned minister,” he alleged.

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