Ready to give up portfolio, says Karnataka Forest Minister Anand Singhby Bharath Joshi
Karnataka’s newly-appointed Forest Minister Anand Singh, who is in the middle of a controversy with over a dozen cases pending against him, said Friday he is ready to give up his portfolio if Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa wants him to.
“Whatever is being said about me, and whatever I have declared in my election affidavit - yes, there are 15 cases against me. I don’t want to keep people of the state in the dark. That’s not the kind of politics I want to do,” Singh told reporters at Vidhana Soudha.
“But the media and Opposition leaders should look at what happened to these cases. Let anyone open chargesheets and see. If there’s any direct charge against me, then anyone can question me,” he said. “But if me being there will lead to the loot and deterioration of Karnataka’s forests...if that’s what CM thinks and wants to change my portfolio, then I’m ready,” he said.
According to Singh, of the 15 cases pending against him, 12 have been stayed by court and three are under trial.
In his election affidavit that he filed for his December 2019 byelection, the Vijayanagar MLA has declared 15 cases pending against him. These are offences under the Indian Penal Code and the Mines & Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act read with sections under the Karnataka Forest Act.
He has one case specifically under the Karnataka Forest Act charging him with carrying out activities prohibited in reserved forests, counterfeiting or defacing marks on trees or timber and altering (forest) boundary, according to his affidavit.
Singh was one of the 17 legislators who defected from the Congress-JD(S) coalition, which helped the BJP come to power. A party hopper, Singh was a minister when the BJP was in power from 2008-13. He joined the Congress for the 2018 Assembly polls, but jumped ship again last year.
He was inducted into the Cabinet earlier this month and was initially given the Food & Civil Supplies portfolio. In a quick reshuffle of portfolios, Yediyurappa made Singh the Forest minister, which has caused furore on social media. Singh has since clarified that he did not ask for the Forest portfolio.