It signifies those facing charges cannot make it to ministry

The resignation of Minister of State for Information and Infrastructure Development Santosh Lad is expected to mark the beginning of a new phase in ministry management for Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who recently completed six months in office as the head of the government.

As is evident, the Chief Minister sought the resignation of Mr. Santosh Lad to drive home the point that legislators facing charges cannot make it to his ministry. It is common knowledge that at least three former Ministers, who have been kept out of the government, are now keen on making it to the ministry, and are spending more time in New Delhi to obtain a favourable response from the Congress high command.

The focus of the Chief Minister in the run-up to the elections to the Lok Sabha is all about effectively managing the affairs of the State, in particular, the administration, and exhibit to the party high command that he is gearing up to accomplish the target set by the high command. It is stated that the Congress high command gave a free hand to the Chief Minister in deciding on the controversy that surfaced over the illegalities in mining related activities pertaining to the company in which Mr. Santosh Lad is a partner.

Having defended his Minister over the past four months and also categorically stating that there was no truth in the allegations against him, Mr. Siddaramaiah on Thursday suddenly decided on seeking the exit of Mr. Santosh Lad from the ministry. This in itself is a pointer to the manner in which he is seeking to handle some of the former Ministers seeking an entry into the government, leave alone the Opposition parties, which have been working at showing the government in a poor light. Incidentally, the matter relating to the Information Minister was not even discussed at a meeting of the State Cabinet on Thursday, and the Minister himself was away since there were no subjects pertaining to his ministry in the Cabinet agenda.

Sources close to the Mr. Santosh Lad told The Hindu that the Congress high command had neither directed the Chief Minister to ask for his resignation nor had it asked the latter to resign. The matter was discussed when the Chief Minister and the president of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee, G. Parameshwara, were in Delhi recently for a meeting with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, but “no decision was taken. The Chief Minister called up Mr. Santosh Lad when he was in Delhi and asked him to resign and the latter agreed to do so”.

‘Is this fair?’

Mr. Santosh Lad has maintained that “there is no FIR (first information report) against him, leave alone a charge sheet. Further, the mining licence of V.S. Lad and Sons has also been cancelled. “There were 23 Cabinet Ministers in the BJP government against whom there were a variety of charges and cases, and yet they continued in the government. There is no direct charge against me in the present instance and yet they want me to go. Is this fair,” he asked.

Thirty-seven-year-old Mr. Santosh Lad was the baby of the team in the Siddaramaiah Cabinet, and has been Minister of State for the last six months. His exit from the ministry will also mean the end of the “honeymoon” phase for the government, which is already being rocked by its opponents on some of the populist schemes that it has launched in the recent past.

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