BENGALURU: The controversy over giving the forest ministry to Anand Singh threatens to put the government on a sticky wicket during the legislature session starting Monday, but Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa and Singh remain unfazed. The CM has come under fire from opposition Congress leaders and civil society for giving the forest ministry to Singh, though he faces several cases, including one under the Forest Act. A source close to the CM ruled out any possibility of changing Singh’s portfolio, as the cases were either set aside or stayed by courts.
“The CM is unperturbed,” said a source, referring to the controversy that is likely to put the government on the defensive.“No case under the Forest Act is pending against me, and there is no conflict of interest. I have explained the status of all the cases to the Chief Minister’s Office,” Singh told TNIE on Thursday.
Singh was among 17 Congress and JDS rebel legislators, who resigned from the assembly membership to help the BJP form the government in the state. He was re-elected from the Vijayanagara assembly segment and was last week inducted into the ministry. He was initially given the food and civil supplies portfolio, but it was later changed to forest.
“I had never asked for any particular portfolio. I will take up any responsibility given by the CM,” Singh said. On the cases against him, the minister said that 11 cases registered by the Lokayukta SIT were stayed by the High Court, one case was stayed by the District Court and three cases registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) are under trial. “The case under the Forest Act has become infructuous as it reached finality in the Supreme Court. It was a case booked against a firm, and there is no case specifically against me,” he said.
However, many BJP leaders feel the CM should consider changing Singh’s portfolio to take the wind out of the opposition’s sails. “It is morally incorrect to head the department when cases are registered against him. The opposition is likely to make it a big issue in the session and the CM should consider changing his portfolio to avoid any possible damage to the government’s image, especially at a time when he is pushing his development agenda,” said sources close to the CM.
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