press trust of india
HYDERABAD, 18 JUNE: A war of words broke out between the main opposition TDP and ruling Congress members at the Andhra Pradesh Assembly this afternoon as Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy sought to defend the “tainted ministers”, who were under the CBI scanner in the Jaganmohan Reddy illegal assets case.
The Telugu Desam Party demanded that all "tainted" ministers be dropped from the Cabinet while the Congress took strong exception to the “tainted” tag. The House had to be adjourned twice as the TDP MLAs stormed the Speaker’s podium over the issue even as the chief minister said they were ready for any debate on the case if the Speaker allowed it in a proper form.
It all began when TDP deputy leader Mr Gali Muddukrishnama Naidu tried to compliment Deputy Speaker Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka, who was in the Chair, for running the House in an orderly fashion.
“Wish Speaker Nadendla Manohar, too, runs the House like this,” Gali said, evoking sharp reaction from Agriculture Minister Kanna Lakshminarayana. As Kanna started speaking, the TDP members got on their feet and referred to him as a “tainted minister” and said they would not listen to him.
Kanna tried to hit back at the TDP MLAs and protested being labelled as a “tainted minister” when the CBI did not even make any allegation against him (in the Jagan case). He went on to dig into the past and dubbed the TDP as a party of thieves.
The Opposition legislators rebutted his attack with equal aggression, prompting the chief minister to intervene and defend his ministers.
“Mere framing of a charge-sheet doesn’t mean that a minister is guilty. They have not done anything in violation of the Constitution. But two ministers resigned on moral grounds while no case has been made out so far against three others. The investigation is still on and hence, they are innocent till proven guilty,” Mr Kiran Reddy said.
TDP deputy leader Mr P Ashoka Gajapati Raju said if the government could be shameless in continuing with the "tainted ministers" in the Cabinet, they could not be shameless in listening to them in the House. “We are not captive audience,” he said.
Former minister Mr Dharmana Prasada Rao, who was charge-sheeted by the CBI, too, said they had committed no mistake and even the CBI did not make specific allegations against them. “You have no right to brand us as tainted without knowing even the basics of the case. If you are ready, we will expose all the wrongdoings of the TDP government prior to 2004,” he said.
TDP legislator Mr Payyavula Keshav said “tainted” was an apt expression as there was a blot on certain ministers.
“We are not saying they are guilty but only tainted because there is a blot on them. It happened in the case of some Union ministers and also in Gujarat. Calling you tainted is not inappropriate,” Mr Keshav said.
The chief minister then said they were ready for a detailed debate on the subject if the Speaker permitted it in a proper form.
As the agriculture minister once again rose to speak, the TDP MLAs stormed the Speaker’s podium leading to adjournment of the House till 4.30 p.m. for the evening session.
The Telugu Desam Party demanded that all "tainted" ministers be dropped from the Cabinet while the Congress took strong exception to the “tainted” tag