Ready to change portfolio,if CM wants: Anand Singh
Bengaluru: Amid growing criticism over his appointment as Forest minister as there are several cases pending against him, including under the Karnataka Forest Act, Anand Singh on Friday said he is ready, if Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa wants to change his portfolio.
Accepting that there are 15 cases pending against him, the MLA from Vijayanagara in mine rich Ballari district also said anyone can go through the charge sheets and find out whether there are any direct charges against him.
Claiming that the cases against him were "minor violations", he had earlier linked them to traffic violations by a vehicle owner.
"If Chief Minister Yediyurappa feels that because of my continuing as Forest minister, Karnataka's forests will get looted, will get destroyed, and wants to change my portfolio, Im ready to change my portfolio," he said.
According to Singh, of the 15 cases pending against him, 12 have been stayed by court while three are under trial.
"What opposition leaders are saying and what I have submitted to the Election Commission is true- that there are 15 cases against me.
I will never do politics by keeping people of Karnataka in the dark, but media friends and opposition leaders have to thoroughly examine the charges against me," Singh said.
Speaking to reporters here, he said "many of them (opposition leaders) are advocates, they have to go through the charge sheets against me, if there are direct charges against me, media can question me."
Singh's statement has come at a time when there is speculation within BJP circles about Yediyurappa contemplating on changing his portfolio, after drawing flak from various quarters.
The Congress has hit out at Chief Minister for appointing Singh, a businessman with mining interests, as Forest minister and threatened to raise the issue during the upcoming assembly session.
Leader of Opposition and Congress leader Siddaramaiah said if one is giving the ministership of a department under which he is facing cases, it will look like government is openly supporting corruption.
He demanded that either the Chief Minister has to immediately change his portfolio, or Singh himself should resign.
Terming Yediyurappa's decision as wrong as there are cases against Singh under the very department he will be heading, KPCC president Dinesh Gundu Rao said his portfolios should be changed immediately, or else it will lead to suspicion.
"It is the Chief Minister's duty to showcase transparency and honesty in the administration," he said, adding that his party will raise the issue in the assembly, if the action is not taken immediately.
Several twitter users have also opposed Singh being made the Forest Minister, pointing out a conflict of interest.
An online petition has also been started, demanding that the Chief Minister drop him immediately.