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Forest ministry for mining baron Anand Singh raises political storm in Karnataka

Anand Singh was one of the 17 MLA’s who defected from the Congress and the JDS helping the BJP topple the H D Kumaraswamy led coalition government in the state last year.

south Updated: Feb 14, 2020 00:32 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
Anand Singh is facing nearly 15 mining-related cases
Anand Singh is facing nearly 15 mining-related cases(ANI File Photo)

The appointment of mining baron Anand Singh as the forest minister in Karnataka has kicked up a fresh controversy for the eight month old BS Yediyurappa led BJP government.

Anand Singh is facing nearly 15 mining-related cases -- including some from the forest department, in which his mining companies are accused of encroaching upon forest lands.

Anand Singh was one of the 17 MLA’s who defected from the Congress and the JDS helping the BJP topple the H D Kumaraswamy led coalition government in the state last year. Singh won from Vijayanagar constitutency in the ensuing bypolls after his disqualification. Yediyurappa rewarded him by inducting him into the cabinet on February 6th.

In the subsequent portfolio allocation, Anand Singh was originally allotted Food and Civil supplies ministry but was given Forest, Ecology and Environment after hectic lobbying for suitable berths led to the reallocation of the portfolios.

Anand Singh was arrested twice in 2013 and 2015 in illegal mining cases which are pending at various stages in different courts.

The allocation of the forest ministry to Singh has come in for heavy criticism with opposition raising the issue of conflict of interest.

Congress spokesperson V S Ugrappa criticized the move saying that the CM had been “blackmailed by the turncoats who are out to loot rather than serve the state.”

The JDS too has hit out at the move.

The minister, however, has defended his appointment saying all mining companies have cases against them and it was the prerogative of the CM to allot portfolios.