HYDERABAD: The six ministers who are due to receive notices from the Supreme Court in the Jagan Mohan Reddy wealth case continued to be on edge Tuesday although chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy advised them to stay calm Some of the six are said to be seeking legal opinion.
The apex court had on Monday issued notices to six ministers and eight IAS officers, on a petition that asked why they have not been questioned about their role in issuing 26 GOs that allegedly helped the Kadapa MP amass assets during his father’s tenure as chief minister.
The six ministers -- Dharmana Prasada Rao, Sabitha Indra Reddy, J Geetha Reddy, Ponnala Lakshmaiah, Mopidevi Venkata Ramana, and Kanna Lakshminarayana -- put up a brave face but seemed worried. “As head of the government, the chief minister should come to our rescue,” one of them is reported to have said.
The ministers met the chief minister Tuesday and reportedly sought his help lest they land in trouble. Since the notices have not yet been served, it was decided to wait for them before taking any decision.
Geetha Reddy said the ministers would decide their next course of action only after receiving the notices. “We acted as per rules and there are no individual decisions,” she said.
The other ministers were not forthcoming to the press Tuesday. Dharmana Prasada Rao said, “I will not react to the development. If I have to respond, I will react on the floor of the Assembly. But the situation is not conducive in the House; the opposition is not allowing us to give any clarification,”
Three of the six -- Lakshminarayana, Lakshmaiah and Prasada Rao -- conferred in the lobbies of the Assembly and coopted former minister Gade Venkata Reddy to defend them in a press conference.
Subsequently, the senior Congress leader called a presser and batted for the half dozen. He said serving notices to ministers did not mean that they were accused in the case. “If the ministers are proved guilty, the Congress government will take appropriate action. No Congress government in the past has shielded the accused and it will not do so in future,” he said.
In private comments, the ministers were heard complaining that sympathy was difficult to get. Quoting an MLA, he said: “A BC MLA, who aspired for the Irrigation portfolio in the Y S Rajasekhara Reddy government, said he was lucky not to have been inducted into the Cabinet then. Otherwise, he would have been in a soup now,” Another minister said that “golmal” could only have happened in the Mines Department, then headed by Sabita Indra Reddy.
Another minister pleaded innocence. “If an officer comes to me for some work and I do it as per rules and that officer takes money from the person who benefited from my decision, how can you hold me responsible for?”