With the Opposition NDA demanding the PM’s resignation in the coalgate scam, focus has shifted away from those accused in the disproportionate assets case.
The ongoing coalgate scandal at the Centre, which stalled the proceedings in both the Houses of Parliament with a determined BJP-led NDA demanding nothing less than Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s resignation, is likely to further delay the decision on the State Roads and Building minister Dharmana Prasada Rao’s resignation.
The Congress high command, which has summoned Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy to Delhi may advise him to hold on for some more time to take a final call; at least till the dust over the coalgate settles down. Thus far, the coalgate scam seems to have come as a blessing in disguise to Dharmana Prasada Rao, accused by the CBI in its fourth chargesheet filed in the disproportionate assets (DA) case.
Added to the delay in taking a decision by the CM, there is also a stiff resistance from as many as 22 of his Cabinet colleagues demanding to challenge the CBI, which named two ministers so far, including Dharmana Prasada Rao, besides a number of bureaucrats, for the issuance of the 26 GOs during the late YSR’s regime as a collective decision of the Cabinet. It was Vatti Vasanth Kumar, minister for Tourism, who argued the other day that under Article 163, none can challenge the decisions taken by the Cabinet. He had also referred to past Supreme Court directions in this regard.
Many of Kiran Kumar Reddy’s cabinet colleagues, who were also members of erstwhile YS Rajasekhara Reddy government, were of the firm opinion that all the 26 GOs were a collective decision of the then Cabinet, and if the government allows to prosecute Dharmana Prasada Rao, it would be opening a ‘can of worms’ putting many of them in a dangerous situation. They argued that the government had already made the mistake for not ‘saving’ Mopidevi Venkataramana Rao, who is already cooling his heels in the Chanchalguda jail.
As if this was not enough, the Supreme Court, responding to a PIL in regard to the 26 controversial GOs had also slapped notices on as many as six ministers and eight IAS officers. And the Kiran Kumar government had agreed to provide legal aid, barring to jailed minister Mopidevi Venkataramana Rao, leading him to face the flak from members of the BC community, to which the minister belongs.
Pushed onto the back-foot, the chief minister chose to delay taking a decision on Dharmana’s resignation, fearing a possible fall-out among his Cabinet colleagues. As a result, the chief minister and PCC president Botsa Satyanarayana, decided to leave Dharmana’s resignation issue to the party high command. The PCC chief is already camping in New Delhi apprising the senior party leaders as well the State in-charge core group appointed by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, of possible repercussions that would follow if Dharmana’s resignation is accepted.
Dharmana is not only a senior Congress leader, but also influential in north coastal Andhra and also belongs to powerful community, which is pre-dominant in that region. Already, the party had lost its grip in the Telangana region due to the separate State agitation spearheaded by the TRS and did not won even a single seat in the by-elections that were held after 2009.
However, the party could manage to win two Assembly seats of 18 for which by-elections were held recently on each in East and West Godavari districts.