Karnataka ST Welfare Minister B Nagendra resigns over irregularities in MVSTDC; BJP demands dismissal of state government

BJP leaders alleged that the funds were transferred to bank accounts in Telangana to support the Congress for the Lok Sabha elections.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Jun 06, 2024 | 8:15 PM Updated Jun 06, 2024 | 8:16 PM

Karnataka Minister B Nagendra Corruption SCP/TSP funds Bengaluru

Karnataka Tribal Welfare Minster B Nagendra announced his resignation on Thursday, 6 June, over the irregularities amounting to ₹187 crore in his department.

Nagendra confirmed to the media that he was resigning from his Cabinet post and submit resignation to the chief minister at 7.30 pm on Thursday.

“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). I have sought the Chief Minister’s time, he has asked me to come at 7:30 pm. I have not yet told him that I will resign. At 7:30 pm I will go and resign as a minister,” the 52-year-old four-time MLA said.

It is to be noted that the Opposition BJP in the state has been staging protests against the state government and has demanded the resignation of Nagendra and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.

They alleged that the funds were transferred to bank accounts in Telangana to fund the Congress for the Lok Sabha elections.

BJP leaders had also met state Governor Thaawarchand Gehlot and submitted a memorandum demanding the dismissal of the government.

Nagendra was under pressure ever since Maharshi Valmiki Scheduled Tribe Development Corporation Ltd (MVSTDC) superintendent Chandrashekaran exposed the misappropriation of Special Component Plan (SCP) and Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) funds before ending his life by suicide at his residence in Shivamogga.

The Siddaramaiah government set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the irregularities. The CBI also intitiated a probe after the Union Bank of India authorities filed a complaint in the matter.

Related: Karnataka government suspends two officials of Valmiki Corporation

Resignation of Nagendra

Nagendra announced his resignation just after completing a year as a minister in the Siddaramaiah Cabinet.

The first-time Cabinet minister was compelled to tender his resignation after the Opposition continued to put pressure on the Siddaramaiah-led-Congress government over the irregularities.

Nagendra, also minister for youth empowerment and sports, told reporters at Vidhan Soudha: “For the past 10 days, Opposition leaders have been making baseless allegations against the Congress. An investigation is underway regarding the irregularities in the MVSTDC, and its Managing Director (Padmanabha) and others have been arrested.”

“When I discussed with the chief minister and others, none of them pressured me to resign. I will be meeting the CM at 7.30 pm and submit my resignation for my Cabinet post. I will also bring this to the notice of Deputy CM DK Shivakumar and other senior leaders of the party,” Nagendra said adding that he voluntarily took this decision.

The SIT has already taken up the investigation. The probe should be conducted fairly. If I continue to be a Cabinet minister, then it might affect the investigation. Hence, I have decided to resign,” he said.

“These all the allegations are baseless. After I come clean, I will meet the chief minister and return to the Cabinet,” Nagendra said and denied all the allegations.

He also assured that the investigation would be conducted fairly and culprits would be arrested, irrespective of their influence.

The illegal money transfer issue came to light, after KMVSTDC accounts superintendent Chandrashekhar P died by suicide on 26 May, leaving behind a death note.

The note revealed the unauthorised transfer of  ₹187 crore belonging to the state-run 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.

Chandrashekhar has 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.

On 29 May, the state government suspended Padmanabh and Accounts Officer Parashuram G Durugannavar of the KMVSTDC over allegations of illegal money transfer.

They were later arrested by the SIT

Also Read: CBI takes up probe into illegal money transfer case involving state-run Cooperation

BJP demands CM’s resignation

BJP staged a protest march headed by its state party president and MLA BY Vijayendra and Leader of the Opposition in the state Legislative Assembly R Ashoka.

The march started from Vidhan Soudha and culminated before the Raj Bhavan.

“We requested the Governor to dismiss the Congress government. Because the government has looted ₹187 crore of ST grants,” Ashoka told South First.

“The chief minister and minister for ST welfare have to resign. It is our demand,” Ashok said adding that the party is planning to hold four stages of state-wide protest in the coming days.

Opposition’s Chief Whip in Karnataka Legislative Council and MLC N Ravikumar told South First that they were seeking the dismissal of the government since ₹187 crore was illegally transferred to shell IT companies in Hyderabad.

“It is public money. How did they transfer this much amount without the nod of the Cabinet?” questioned Ravikumar.

“CM Siddaramaiah holds the finance portfolio. The irregularities are to the tune of ₹187 crore. An official named Chandrashekar also committed suicide around 15 days ago. This is a very big scam and hence, Siddaramaiah must submit his resignation,” added Ravikumar.

The BJP leaders alleged that the grants belonging to the ST community were transferred to Telangana with the intention to fund the Lok Sabha elections.

“The grants reserved for the development of the Scheduled Tribes in MVSTDC were illegally transferred to Hyderabad. A total of 18 fake accounts were created in Hyderabad and all the ST grants from the corporation were transferred. It is one of the huge scams of this government,” hit out Vijayendra.

He seconded Ravikumar’s demand that the chief minister should resign as he holds the finance portfolio.

“It is impossible to transfer such a huge sum without the nod of the finance department. The chief minister holds the finance portfolio and it is impossible to transfer ST grants without bringing them to his notice. Hence, we are not just demanding the resignation of Nagendra but also CM Siddaramaiah,” Vijayendra added.

Earlier in the day, Shivakumar, also state Congress chief, said “Not wanting to embarrass the party, he (Nagendra) voluntarily came forward and has resigned. We did not ask him to resign. We had a discussion with him.”

“We too had discussions with several people, no minister will show the courage to misappropriate such a huge amount of money. It is not easy,” he added.

(Edited by Muhammed Fazil)