Karnataka minister Nagendra announces resignation amid corruption probe

Bengaluru, June 6 (UNI) B Nagendra, the Karnataka minister under scrutiny, announced his resignation Thursday amid mounting allegations of corruption involving several crores related to an ST fund.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Nagendra declared his decision, emphasising that it was made entirely of his own volition, without external pressure. He revealed his intention to tender his resignation during a scheduled meeting with Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah at 7.30 pm.

“I have voluntarily decided to resign amidst the ongoing investigation. I have already spoken with my party leaders, including the Chief Minister, and Deputy Chief Minister. Resigning is a decision I have made with a clear conscience. I will meet with the Chief Minister at 7:30 pm to submit my resignation,” he stated.

Nagendra’s resignation comes in the middle of intensifying scrutiny and speculation surrounding his alleged involvement in the illicit transfer of over Rs 187 crore, intended for the Karnataka Maharshi Valmiki Scheduled Tribes Development Corporation Ltd, into more than 18 fictitious bank accounts in Hyderabad.

Despite not formally informing the Chief Minister of his decision yet, Nagendra asserted his commitment to step down before the scheduled meeting time. He expressed concern for the reputations of top party leaders, including CM Siddaramaiah, Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar, and AICC chief Mallikarjun Kharge, stressing that his resignation was aimed at sparing them any potential embarrassment.

Responding to allegations linking him to ongoing investigations, Nagendra dismissed them as baseless. He affirmed his confidence in the ongoing probe by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) and expressed optimism about receiving a clean chit once the investigation concludes.

When questioned about his son-in-law’s purported involvement in the case, Nagendra dismissed the accusations as unfounded, labelling them as part of a broader smear campaign.

Regarding recent mentions of a minister’s name in connection with the case, Nagendra declined to engage, asserting that his focus remains on the ongoing investigation. He reiterated statements purportedly made by the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister, who reportedly assured him of his innocence.

The controversy escalated with the suicide of Chandrashekhar P, the Corporation’s accounts superintendent, on May 26. His parting words alleged that Rs 187 crore had been siphoned off, with Rs 88.62 crore landing in accounts allegedly linked to prominent IT firms and a cooperative bank in Hyderabad.

The allegations implicated the Corporation’s suspended Managing Director JG Padmanabh, accounts officer Parashuram G Durugannavar, and Union Bank of India Chief Manager Suchismita Rawal. There were also whispers of the Minister’s involvement through “oral orders”.

In response, the Union Bank of India lodged a formal complaint with the CBI, which swiftly launched an investigation focusing on the MG Road branch. Simultaneously, the Corporation lodged an FIR against senior Union Bank officials for the misappropriation of Rs 88 crore.

Home Minister Dr G Parameshwara’s affirmation of the CBI’s involvement signalled a significant development, as the state cabinet opened the door to a broader CBI inquiry into implicated state departments.

With the Finance Department, overseen by CM Siddaramaiah, coming under scrutiny, the scandal threatens to impact the state’s leadership. Nagendra’s resignation bid was spurred by relentless protests led by the BJP, which branded the saga a “major corruption scam” and demanded urgent accountability.

The BJP orchestrated a march from Vidhana Soudha to Raj Bhavan, led by BJP state President Vijayendra Yediyurappa and Assembly Opposition Leader R Ashoka. They not only demanded Nagendra’s ouster but also implicated Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, insinuating complicity at the highest levels of the government.

Vijayendra said, “A colossal corruption scam has rocked Karnataka, involving the unlawful diversion of funds designated for the Scheduled Tribes community.”

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