Friday, June 14, 2013

The AP resignation saga

The following article was written for Niti Central. Pasting it here for reference.

The resignation drama of two chargesheeted ministers in Andhra Pradesh has not just set off a flurry of political activity in the state, but has also set off a flurry of news activity on the “national” media. However, in a tearing hurry to come up with a 5-10 minutes slot, most of them presented poorly researched news bits on this issue (which includes trying to credit high command for this resignation).

The following timeline explains why it is entirely wrong to credit the high command; how the “collective responsibility” of the cabinet has been abused; and how the state is the ultimate sufferer in this fiasco under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi’s congress party.

March – May, 2012

The Supreme Court of India has issued notices to 6  ministers and 8 IAS officers in Andhra Pradesh, asking them to explain why they should not be interrogated by the CBI in GO's issued by them, that purpotedly favoured Jagan. The details of these 26 GO’s are appended at the end of this article.

The names of the six ministers are: Sabitha Indra Reddy, Geetha Reddy, Dharmana Prasada Rao, Ponnala Lakshmaih, Kanna Lakshminarayana and Mopidevi Venkataramana.

The state government agreed to provide legal assistance to all these 6 ministers and 8 IAS officers, primarily because it believed no wrong-doing was resorted to, by the ministers.

Mr. Venkataramana meanwhile got ensconed into a excise scam too and had resigned. Immediately after that, the CBI arrested him in the Jagan dispropotionate assets case. In his resignation letter, the minister clearly mentioned that he merely followed the orders of the then congress CM, YSR. Many ministerial colleagues echoed the same sentiment directly on TV.

May – August 2012

The CBI continued it’s investigations, and in August filed another set of chargesheets. In this, it named Mr. Dharmana Prasada Rao as an accused. Since he was chargesheeted, Mr. Dharmana Prasada Rao submitted his resignation to the Chief Minister. The CBI also applied for permission from the CM to allow for prosecution of Mr. Prasada Rao. Please note that Mr. Prasada Rao submitted his resignation in August 2012.

August, 2012 to March, 2013

Because he submitted his resignation, Mr. Prasada Rao stayed away from office. There was immense pressure on the Chief Minister and the Congress high command to not accept this resignation and also to not grant permission to the CBI for prosecuting Mr. Prasada Rao. The CBI permission has to be granted within 3 months. Just a few days before the 3 months was ending, in an extraordinary move, the CM placed the CBI request before the cabinet! The Cabinet in its entirety (barring a dissent note by one minister) has decided to reject permission to the CBI. This is perhaps the first and only time in the history of our country that the cabinet had to take a decision on granting permission to the CBI !

Mr. Prasada Rao’s resignation was never accepted nor was it rejected. He purposely stayed away from attending his office in the Secretariat for a whopping 7 months. With the Chief Minsiter suggesting to him that he start attending office and cabinet meetings, Mr. Prasada Rao resumed normal duties in March 2013.
It is very important to not that all this while, all these moves had the explicit support of this very high command of the Congress.

March – May 2013

Meanwhile, the CBI filed another chargesheet and this time named Ms. Sabita Indra Reddy as an accused. Ms. Sabita followed the same script as Mr. Prasada Rao. She submitted her resignation in April. It was neither accepted nor rejected. The Chief Minister stood behind both these ministers, with the explicit support of the high command. Ms. Sabita also did not attend office for 19 days (peanuts compared to the 7 months absence by Mr. Prasada Rao) and recently resumed duties. It is again very important to note that the high command did not raise an alarm of having two chargesheeted ministers in the cabinet.

May 2013

As is the norm, a couple of scandals rocked the UPA government. Sonia Gandhi was forced to drop 2 central ministers. This sparked off a voiceferous demand, not just from opposition parties, but from congress leaders too! How can we have one standard for Delhi and one for AP? The CM of AP went to Delhi (folks in AP lost count on the number of visits he made to Delhi!) and the culmination of this fiasco was supposed to be the resignation of these two ministers.

Now, the two ministers have reminded the press that they had already submitted their resignations (in August and April ) and yet no decision has been taken. Instead of accepting it then, a picture is being painted now that the high command has asked them to resign (again!). PC.Chacko in his press conference hoped that the ministers will resign “voluntarily”. Guess what – they already did and the high command didn’t accept them! It is a pity that none of the journalists present there did not question him on this. Mr. Prasada Rao is deeply upset that he was forced to stay on and is now being forced to go away – justifiable anger but is helpless! Both ministers have announced that they haven’t presented any new letters and have told the CM to act on their earlier letters itself. Please note, that as of now, the resignations have not yet been accepted!

The 26 GO’s pertain to allocation of land/exemption on levy of duties etc to various companies that have reportedly helped YSR/Jagan companies. Any decision to allot even a small piece of land has to be approved by the Cabinet – which implies that all these decisions have gone through the cabinet. How then can one minister be blamed for this? What exactly is the extent of this corruption scam in Andhra Pradesh? CBI has spoken to the remaining 3 ministers too but is yet to name them as accused.

The “national” media suddenly woke up yesterday and started posing some questions without a clear background of the entire issue – perhaps it is now na├»ve to expect them to be fully aware of happenings in congress ruled AP! One anchor was astonished in his show last night when he mentioned that there is a “litany” of scams in AP. Wonder what stopped him and others from debating these much earlier?

Details of the 26 GOs and what the CBI says about them is here

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