The arrest of excise minister M Venkataramana by CBI on Wednesday has not only sent shock waves among the Cabinet ministers but it also has seemingly divided the collective conscience of the ministerial council, Postnoon enquiry reveals.
While some ministers are terming the arrest of Venkataramana as unfortunate or sad, some others think it is fair. But the fact that comes through a chat with the remaining five of the six ministers accused of issuing 26 controversial GOs is that all are busy seeking legal opinion.
Many of these ministers are keeping themselves busy by meeting prominent lawyers and seeking their suggestions to come out clean.
According to reliable sources, one senior minister held discussions with a prominent lawyer and he was shocked to hear that it was difficult to get off the hook if a minister has jumped the rules. The most sticky situation is when a minister ignores secretarial advice and goes on his own.
Minister for civil supplies D Sridhar Babu and minister for housing N Uttam Kumar Reddy termed the arrest of Venkataramana as unfortunate. But the agriculture minister K Laxminarayana had a different opinion.
Venkataramana’s arrest is the natural course of law and there was nothing sad about it. “If one has committed mistake he should face the consequences,” was his response.
Laxminarayana also differed with the contention of collective responsibility on Cabinet decisions. “If the decision taken by a particular minister is according to the Cabinet decision, then it becomes our collective responsibility. If there is any deviation from what is being approved by the Cabinet the individual minister is responsible,” he said.
Another minister P Laxmaiah, who is now holding the IT and communications portfolio declined to comment on the issue by citing his busy election campaign schedule.
Laxmaiah was busy attending official programmes on Friday. He participated in the Advantage AP programme organised by his ministry at a hotel. When Postnoon tried to contact minister major for Industries J Geeta Reddy, she was unavailable for a comment.
The list of the ministers facing charges, besides Venkataramana, included J Geeta Reddy, P Laxmaiah, Sabita Indira Reddy, D Prasada Rao and K Laxminarayana.
These ministers are facing charges for issuing 26 government orders during YS Rajasekhara Reddy’s regime (2004-06) which led to loss of huge revenue for State government and benefited industrialists.