Indian State Minister to Quit amid Scandal

Posted July 28th, 2011 at 1:35 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Indian media say the chief minister of the southern state of Karnataka has submitted his resignation in response to accusations that he and other officials were involved in a major illegal mining scam.

The reports say B.S. Yeddyurappa of the Hindu nationalist party BJP agreed to step down Thursday, hours after party leaders meeting in the Indian capital, New Delhi, urged him to quit. The BJP is India's main national opposition party, but it leads the government of Karnataka state, whose capital, Bangalore, is India's top technology hub.

A BJP spokesman said party leaders will travel to Bangalore on Friday to pick a new chief minister for the state.

A Karnataka anti-corruption body published a report Wednesday accusing Yeddyurappa and 787 other officials of granting mining contracts illegally and costing the state $3.6 billion in lost revenues from 2006 to 2010. Yeddyurappa has denied profiting from illegal mining.

The BJP has been a strong critic of recent corruption scandals plaguing members of India's ruling Congress Party, but Congress has responded to the criticism by accusing the Hindu nationalists of hypocrisy.

India's Congress-led Cabinet said Thursday it approved draft legislation aimed at creating an agency to investigate corruption allegations against government ministers and lawmakers. The legislation will be submitted to parliament for debate next week.

The proposed anti-corruption body will not have the authority to investigate a serving prime minister and judges. An investigation of a prime minister would have to wait until the end of that minister's term.

Prominent Indian rights activist Anna Hazare criticized the bill as not going far enough, and vowed to resume a hunger strike against government corruption. The four-day hunger strike by the activist in April drew wide public support.