ST Corporation scam: Karnataka govt in Catch-22 situation on sacking Nagendra

AICC General Secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala too is expected to attend.
Minister B Nagendra
Minister B NagendraPhoto | Nagaraja Gadekal

BENGALURU: With the pressure mounting on Tribal Welfare Minister B Nagendra to resign over the suicide of Maharshi Valmiki Schedule Tribe Development Corporation (MVSTDC) Accounts Superintendent Chandrashekara P, the Congress government is now in a Catch-22 situation.

Within the government, there is a thinking that Nagendra’s resignation should be sought immediately to save the government’s face and reinduct him if he comes out clean after an SIT probe.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah met Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar and Home Minister Dr G Parameshwara to discuss this. But any decision is likely only after eliciting the opinions of party legislators at the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting on Sunday evening that has been convened to discuss the MLC polls. AICC General Secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala too is expected to attend.

Any attempt to cover up the case or inaction would damage both the government and the party, political analysts observed. BJP is baying for the government’s blood after the Rs 187.33 crore scam broke out where the money from MVSTDC has been transferred to a bank illegally. The opposition party is likely to raise the issue in the upcoming monsoon legislature session in June or July. It is taking the example of then RDPR minister KS Eshwarappa, who was forced to resign in 2022 after contractor Santhosh Patil committed suicide.

But Nagendra has reportedly told Siddaramaiah that he had not issued any instructions, even oral, to MVSTDC officers to transfer the money to the Union Bank of India branch illegally. “The CM met the Finance Department officials and additional chief secretary in this regard. A nine-member team had audited MVSTDC accounts. The fault is from the bank’s side as it committed a mistake to help a businessman at the end of the financial year,” an official from the government maintained.

The case has taken a new dimension with Union Bank of India filing a complaint with the Central Bureau of Investigation against the alleged fraudulent transactions in the MVSTDC accounts at its MG Road branch in Bengaluru.  

“The Siddaramaiah-led Congress government is attempting to shift the blame for a Rs 187.33 crore scam onto the Union Bank of India for illegal money transfers in order to protect the accused minister B Nagendra in the multi-crore scam,” the state BJP posted on ‘X’. “The highly corrupt Congress government is attempting to obtain a clean chit for the minister through a preliminary CID investigation. In response, Union Bank has lodged a complaint with the CBI, expressing its readiness for an investigation into the illegal money transfers,” it pointed out. It demanded that Siddaramaiah dismiss the minister, “implicated” in the misappropriation of funds allocated for Scheduled Tribes and refer the case to the CBI. “Moreover, we demand clarity on any personal gains you have obtained from such corrupt practices,” the BJP taunted.

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