Karnataka governor accepts minister’s resignation
Bangalore – Karnataka Governor H.R. Bhardwaj Saturday accepted resignation of minister Santosh Lad, a day after he agreed to step down for his alleged involvement in the multi-crore mining scam in the state.
“The governor has accepted Santosh Lad’s resignation from the council of ministers on the advice of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah,” said a communique from Raj Bhavan.
As minister of state with independent charge, Lad was holding portfolios of infrastructure development and information department.
The chief minister kept the information portfolio with him and re-allocated the infrastructure development to state IT and BT Minister S.R. Patil, who also holds additional portfolios of planning and science and technology.
Lad, a 38-year-old minin! g baron, who hails from Sandur in the iron-ore rich Bellary district, about 310 km from here, is a Congress lawmaker from Kalghatgi in Dharwad district, about 430 km from Bangalore.
With Lad’s resignation, the strength of the Congress government has reduced to 29, leaving five posts vacant in the 34-member cabinet, including that of the chief minister.
Lad’s mining firm V.S. Lad & Sons was indicted by then Karnataka ombudsman (Lokayukta) Justice (retd.) N. Santosh Hegde for illegally extracting and supplying about 10,000 tonnes of iron ore during 2008-10 from Sandur mines in the northern region of the state.
The firm is also being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on the Supreme Court directive after its appointed central empowered committee (CEC) classified it under ‘C’ category mining lessee and directed the state government to cancel its license for allegedly committing large-scale illegal mining.
Lad is the first minister to! quit the Congress government six months after the party returned to po! wer following its victory in the May assembly elections.
The resignation came after whistle-blower S.R. Hiremath of NGO Samaja Parivartanan Samudayaa, on whose petition the apex court ordered the CBI probe, recently met the governor with documentary evidence to seek Lad’s removal from the cabinet.
After the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lawmakers petitioned the governor with the same demand, Bhardwaj advised the chief minister to look into the matter.
BJP and two other opposition parties — Janata Dal-Secular and Karnataka Janata Party threatened to disrupt the state legislature winter session at Belguam, about 500 km from here, if Lad was not removed from the ministry.