Several Ministers denounced the action of a group of senior Congress leaders from Telangana in levelling ‘baseless' allegations of corruption in Jalayagnam and demanding changes in the design of Polavaram project.

The utterances of Palvai Govardhan Reddy and others dominated the Andhra Pradesh Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister K. Rosaiah here on Friday. The controversy generated by these leaders including the demand to oust Major Irrigation Minister Ponnala Lakshmaiah and their interaction with Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan drew flak from the Cabinet.

“Why mum for long?”

Rural Development Minister Vatti Vasant Kumar raised the issue and questioned their silence for over five years, when the designs were approved by the previous government led by Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy.

He alleged that the fresh controversy was now being raked up to halt the Polavaram project and benefit some contractors.

Supporting his views, other Ministers — Botsa Satyanarayana, Gade Venkata Reddy, Danam Nagender and Komatireddy Venkata Reddy — criticised the attempts of the senior leaders to discredit the government.

Mr. Nagender was believed to have claimed that Mr. Lakshmaiah was targeted because he was a BC leader.

Objecting to his remarks, Mr. Komatireddy Venkata Reddy complained that the issue was being diverted.

At that stage, Mr. Rosaiah expressed his displeasure over the “uncalled” for allegations made by the senior Congress leaders. He reportedly mentioned that when the issue was taken up with him, he had told the them to raise the matter in a party forum. He is believed to have told the Ministers that when a colleague faced baseless allegations, it was the collective responsibility of all others to come to his/her rescue.

Information and Public Relations Minister J. Geetha Reddy informed the Chief Minster that she along with Ministers, D. K. Aruna and D. Sridhar Babu, had refuted the charges.

Small Scale Industries Minister Ms. Aruna reportedly sought more incentives for entrepreneurs, who set up industries in backward areas.