Hyderabad: A war of words broke out between the main opposition TDP and ruling Congress members in Andhra Pradesh Assembly this afternoon as Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy sought to defend the "tainted ministers," who were under the CBI scanner in Jagan's illegal assets case. The Telugu Desam Party demanded that all tainted ministers be dropped from the Cabinet while the Congress took strong exception to the "tainted" tag.
The House had to be adjourned twice as the TDP MLAs stormed the Speaker's podium over the issue even as the Chief Minister said they were ready for any debate on the issue if the Speaker allowed it in a proper form. It began when TDP deputy leader Gali Muddukrishnama Naidu tried to compliment Deputy Speaker Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka, who was in the Chair, for running the House in an orderly fashion.
"Wish Speaker Nadendla Manohar too runs the House like this," Gali remarked evoking a sharp reaction from Agriculture Minister Kanna Lakshminarayana. As Kanna started speaking, the TDP members were on their feet and referred to him as a "tainted minister" and asserted that they would not listen to him.
Kanna tried to hit back at the TDP MLAs and protested being labelled as a "tainted minister" when the CBI did not even make any allegation against him (in the Jagan's case). He went out to dig into the past and dubbed TDP as a party of thieves. The Opposition legislators rebutted Kanna's attack with equal aggression, prompting the Chief Minister to intervene and defend his ministers.
"Mere framing of a charge-sheet doesn't mean that a minister is guilty. They have not done anything in violation of the Constitution. But two ministers resigned on moral grounds while no case has been made out so far against three others. The investigation is still on and hence they are innocent till proven guilty," Kiran Reddy said.
TDP deputy leader P Ashoka Gajapati Raju said if the government could be shameless in continuing the tainted ministers in the Cabinet, they could not be shameless in listening to them in the House. "We are not captive audience," he observed.
Former minister Dharmana Prasada Rao, who was chargesheeted by the CBI, too said they had committed no mistake and even the CBI did not make specific allegations against them. "You have no right to brand us as tainted without knowing even the basics of the case. If you are ready, we will expose all the wrongdoings of the TDP government prior to 2004," he said.
TDP legislator Payyavula Keshav asserted that "tainted" was an apt expression as there was a blot on certain ministers. "We are not saying they are guilty but only tainted because there is a blot on them. It happened in the case of some Union ministers and also in Gujarat. Calling you tainted is not inappropriate," Keshav remarked.
The Chief Minister then said they were ready for a detailed debate on the subject if the Speaker permitted it in a proper form. As the agriculture minister once again rose to speak, the TDP MLAs stormed the Speaker's podium leading to adjournment of the House till 4.30 pm for the evening session