Money laundering case: K’taka Minister Nagendra resigns; upbeat BJP demands CM to step down

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Money laundering case: K’taka Minister Nagendra resigns; upbeat BJP demands CM to step down

Bengaluru: Karnataka Minister for Youth Empowerment, Sports, and Tribal Welfare, B. Nagendra, tendered his resignation to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Thursday following the suicide of a Tribal Welfare Board employee that triggered allegations of money laundering against the Minister.

The death of Chandrashekaran P (50), the Superintendent of Karnataka Maharishi Valmiki Scheduled Tribes Development Corporation (KMVSTDC), who allegedly died by suicide on May 26 after leaving a note blaming senior officials for coercing him to facilitate misappropriation of funds, has triggered a political row in Karnataka.

The Congress government has come under pressure following allegations of transferring huge funds to some private accounts for spending in the Lok Sabha elections in Telangana and other parts of the country.

Nagendra submitted a one-line resignation letter, claiming that he stepping down out of his own will.

Nagendra is at the centre of controversy over his alleged involvement in the tribal board staffer’s suicide case. He is also facing charges of being instrumental in transferring Rs 187 crore from the Tribal Welfare Board’s account to some ‘fake’ accounts at a bank in Telangana for election campaigning.

Speaking to reporters at the Vidhana Soudha, Nagendra said, “I am innocent. I am submitting my resignation out of my own will, and not due to any pressure. The media has been reporting on the issue, and allegations have been levelled against me for the past 10 days.”

Commenting on the development, Deputy CM Shivakumar said that Nagendra offered to resign voluntarily to avoid embarrassment for the party, adding that he was not asked by the state Congress to step down.

“There were many investigations into illegal funds transfers during the BJP’s term, but they were swept under the carpet. All such cases will be investigated now,” he said.

“The Chief Minister and the ministers of the previous BJP government are well aware of the scams during their term. We have also received information regarding the same. I won’t go to the extent of saying that the BJP leaders are involved in this, but we will investigate everything,” Shivakumar said.

Asked if officials are committing crimes without the knowledge of the ministers, the Deputy CM said, “Funds can’t be transferred from one bank account to another without a board resolution. Many bankers used to come to me when I was the Power Minister requesting deposits in their banks but we did not pay heed to those requests.”

“The Chief Minister has already formed an SIT and ordered an investigation. The CBI will also investigate the case,” he added.

The alleged scam in the KMVSTDC came to light following the suicide of Chandrashekaran, who was allegedly pressurised to move large sums of money to various illegal accounts.

In his suicide note, he detailed how he was pressured by a sitting Cabinet minister of the department.

Meanwhile, the BJP in Karnataka, which had set June 6 as the deadline for dropping Nagendra from the Cabinet, welcomed the Minister’s resignation on Thursday.

Buoyed by the development, the BJP has now demanded the resignation of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Maharshi Valmiki Development Corporation Chairman and Congress MLA, Basavaraja Daddal.

Leader of opposition in the state Assembly, R. Ashoka, accused Siddaramaiah of directly colluding with Nagendra in the alleged scam, claiming that the CM should also tender his resignation.

Karnataka BJP President B.Y. Vijayendra described the development as a victory for the agitations staged by the state unit of the party.

“The resignation of Nagendra is the first step. Many prominent politicians are involved in the scandal in which Rs 187 crore of public money has been looted. Until all the guilty persons are punished, the BJP won’t stop its agitation,” Vijayendra said.

BJP MLC and former national General Secretary C.T. Ravi also demanded the resignation of Siddaramaiah and Basavaraj Daddal.

“CM Siddaramaiah should take moral responsibility and tender his resignation. The resignation of Nagendra is not enough. We suspect the involvement of invisible hands from Bengaluru to New Delhi. This is a scandal involving Rs 187 crore, yet the government tried to project it as a minor case,” Ravi said.

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