Karnataka minister quits over land row, CM rejects
Bangalore, June 23 (IANS) Karnataka Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Suresh Kumar Saturday resigned following a controversy over allotment of a housing site in the city in alleged violation of rules governing government land.
Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda, however, rejected Kumar's resignation, asserting that he was aware of the issue and would consult officials concerned to ascertain the facts.
"Suresh Kumar is one of those ministers who conduct themselves in a transparent manner. He has told me that he would take back the post only after his name was cleared but I think it is not necessary as I know the details of this case," Gowda told reporters at his home-office after Kumar submitted the resignation letter.
Claiming that Kumar was being wrongly targetted, Gowda said the purported controversy did not warrant his resignation and not even an investigation.
"I think he (Kumar) is being wrongly targetted. So, I will not accept his resignation. There is also no need to order a probe," Gowda observed.
Reacting to a report in a English tabloid (Bangalore Mirror) based on a piece of information obtained by an activist through the Right to Information (RTI) Act, Kumar said later that he had resigned because he did not want to cause embarrassment to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) or its government and the chief minister.
"Though I have explained to the chief minister the reason for resigning, I hope he would accept it as I had assured him to return to the post once my name is cleared," Kumar told reporters at his house in the city's north-west suburb.
Asserting that he did no wrong in obtaining the site, measuring 4,000 square feet in the upscale Raj Mohan Vilas (RMV) area under the chief minister's discretionary quota ('G' category), Kumar said he was ready for any probe by the authorities concerned, including the judiciary.
"I decided to step down as law minister after reading some allegations against me in a tabloid that I secured a housing site on government land in violation of the allotment laws. As I do not want to embarrass the party or the government, I felt I should not continue in the post till my name is cleared of the charges," Kumar pointed out.
In the light of similar or related allegations against a few of BJP's former ministers and lawmakers being probed by investigation agencies at the state and central levels and in courts, Kumar said he had offered to return the site to the state-run Bangalore Development Agency (BDA). The agency allotted it in the city centre as an alternative to the one that was allotted to him earlier but freed from government control subsequently.
"Moreover, when the alternative site was allotted, neither me nor my family members had any property in the city. I have also mentioned details in my affidavit filed with the state Lokayukta (ombudsman) on assets belonging to us," Kumar recalled.
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