Andhra Pradesh Home Minister, accused of graft, stays for now

Hyderabad: She may have been charged with corruption by the CBI, but Andhra Pradesh's Home Minister Sabitha Indra Reddy isn't been asked to resign by her party, the Congress.

Ms Reddy says she had offered to resign but was advised and persuaded by the Chief Minister and her party colleagues to stay put. There was a call from Delhi to the Chief Minister, and sources say any action is likely only after Congress President Sonia Gandhi returns from the US.

On Tuesday evening, the CBI filed a memo in court seeking Sabitha Reddy, along with 12 others, named as accused in the chargesheet to be summoned in court. That it was not a warrant would have come as a relief to the minister and the Kiran Kumar Reddy government.

One reason why other ministers are all backing Sabitha Reddy is because at least some others are worried that they could face similar charges and be questioned for their role as ministers in the YSR cabinet. They are hoping that decisions taken at that time are seen as collective cabinet decisions rather than individual acts of ministers, for which they should not be held responsible.

Even otherwise there is a precedent. Revenue Minister Dharmana Prasad Rao also faces similar charges of land allotment in the Vanpic case, in an earlier chargesheet filed by the CBI. Mr Rao had sent in his resignation in August last year but it was not accepted.

Ms Reddy is the third minister in the Andhra Pradesh government to be accused by the CBI of corruption in connection with its investigation against politician Jagan Mohan Reddy, who is in jail.

Jagan's father, YSR Reddy, was chief minister when he died in a helicopter crash in 2009. The CBI says that he pressured large corporates to invest in Jagan's business empire; if they obliged, his government granted them licences and clearances they needed.

The CBI says that during her tenure as Mines Minister in YSR's government, Ms Reddy allotted lands to Dalmia Cements and other firms. In return, they allegedly invested in Jagan's companies.

Jagan split the Congress in 2011 to form his own party, the YSR (Congress), which has performed strongly in local elections. 

Ponnala Laxmaiah is among six ministers, including Ms Reddy, who was asked a few months ago by the Supreme Court to explain their role in 26 controversial government orders that are said to have benefitted Jagan when his father was chief minister.

"We have trust and confidence in the system. We have faith in the judiciary and institutions of governance," said Mr Laxmaiah, who is the IT Minister.