Roads and buildings minister Dharmana Prasada Rao is contemplating quitting the Kiran Kumar Reddy cabinet after the Central Bureau of Investigation named him and two IAS officers among the 14 accused in its fourth charge-sheet filed on Monday in the alleged disproportionate assets case of Kadapa MP YS Jagan Mohan Reddy.
Sources said that Prasada Rao is thinking of submitting his resignation on ‘’moral grounds’’ to the chief minister and governor ESL Narasimhan on Tuesday after his return from Delhi and has sought time with Kiran Kumar Reddy on Tuesday evening after which he will put in his papers. The minister also discussed the issue with the Congress top brass - Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ahmed Patel - apparently to find a way out of the mess. When he spoke to the chief minister, the latter told him to hold his horses till the fine print in the chargesheet was gone through.
The minister is understood to have told his confidants that he does not want to be asked to resign and that he is not inclined to continue as minister anymore. He also is learnt to have spoken to the chief minister over phone.
The minister and the two officers, Manmohan Singh (principal secretary, animal husbandry) and M Samuel (chief commissioner of land administration), have already been issued notices by the Supreme Court seeking their reply as to why their role in the case should not be probed.
Prasada Rao was revenue minister when the land for the Vanpic was allotted. This is the first time that the names of these two IAS officers has been mentioned in the chargesheet.
The inclusion of the minister’s name in the chargesheet made the opposition parties to react quickly and demand immediate dismissal of the minister from the cabinet.
Prasada Rao is the second minister after Mopidevi Venkataramana Rao to come under the CBI scanner in the Jagan’s assets case. Former minister Venkataramana has already been arrested and is lodged in the Chanchalguda central prison. Dharmana becomes the first serving minister to be named in the chargesheet. Though Mopidevi’s name also figured in the chargesheet, he had been arrested earlier and he resigned after his arrest. The CBI filed its fourth chargesheet in the case with regard to the benefits given by the then government to industrialist Nimmagadda Prasad for the Vanpic industrial corridor and the investments made him in Jagan’s companies as a quid pro quo arrangement. With the inclusion of Dharmana’s name in the chargesheet, the four other ministers who were also issued notices by the Supreme Court are finding themselves in the dock as inclusion of their names in subsequent chargesheets cannot be ruled out.