Minister of State for Information and Infrastructure Development Santosh Lad is reported to have been asked by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to resign, although there is no confirmation on the same either from the office of the Chief Minister or that of the Minister concerned, who is presently in New Delhi.
Most Ministers in the Congress government are surprised by the late-night development of the reported directive of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah asking Minister of State for Information and Infrastructure Development Santosh Lad to resign, and said they were not aware of it. The matter also did not come up for discussion during a meeting of the State Cabinet earlier in the day.
Sources in the Congress and a senior Minister told The Hindu that the Information Minister had been asked to put in his papers since an iron ore mining company in which he was a partner was linked to another company (owned by his kith and kin) which reportedly indulged in illegal mining. It is another matter that this charge has been made out against Mr. Lad for nearly three months and he had stoutly defended that the company with which he was associated with had nothing to do with the other company against which the charges had been framed.
It is said that the Governor, who is himself an astute law practitioner and is also a former Union Law Minister, had reportedly conveyed to the government that the Minister should be dropped. It should be noted that the top leaders of the State unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party including two former Chief Ministers — Jagadish Shettar and D.V. Sadananda Gowda — had called on the Governor and provided adequate evidence to highlight the role of the Minister’s company in the questionable mining of iron ore.
The Samaja Parivarthana Samudaya had brought forth several documents to highlight that the two companies were linked. The Chief Minister had all along defended Mr. Lad and had even asked S.R. Hiremath of the Samaja Parivartana Samudaya to submit the relevant records to him.
Should the resignation of Mr. Lad come through, then he will be first Minister of the Siddaramaiah government to bow out of office.