Activists and the BJP’s opposition in Karnataka have raised objections to the appointment of BJP MLA from Vijayanagara Anand Singh as the Karnataka Minister of Environment and Forests on Friday, putting Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa under pressure to reconsider his decision.
Sources say that Yediyurappa is mulling over shifting Anand Singh out of the Forest Ministry after the BJP high command expressed its ire against Yediyurappa’s decision to re-allocate the Forest Ministry to Anand Singh. Anand Singh was arrested in connection with the illegal mining scam and also for encroaching on forest land.
“The Chief Minister has instructed Anand Singh that legal opinion would be sought regarding his appointment and if there are objections legally, then his portfolio would be changed,” the source said.
Citizens Agenda for Bengaluru and several other activists outraged against Singh’s appointment and called for his portfolio to be changed. Amidst the high drama, Anand Singh met Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa on Friday to discuss the matter.
“I am willing to let go of the portfolio if Chief Minister Yediyurappa says so,” Anand Singh said after the meeting.
Anand Singh has 15 cases of mining violations, including violations of the Karnataka Forest Act, registered against him. He is accused of criminal conspiracy, theft, criminal breach of trust, cheating and dishonesty, criminal trespass and forgery. This is the case currently being heard by the Bengaluru court.
Anand Singh provided Yediyurappa an update on the 15 cases of mining violations including violations of the Karnataka Forest Act against him during the meeting on Friday, sources close to the Chief Minister said. Of the 15 cases registered against him, 11 cases have a stay order from the Karnataka High Court; investigation is underway in three cases and one case is currently being heard at the Special Court for MLAs and MPs in Bengaluru.
When the 10 new BJP MLAs were allocated ministries on February 10, Anand Singh was initially granted the Food and Civil Supplies ministry. However, just a day later, Yediyurappa submitted a fresh letter to the Governor Vajubhai Vala stating that changes had been made in portfolio allocations. In the new list, Anand Singh bagged the Environment and Forests portfolio.
Once a close associate of mining baron Gali Janardhana Reddy, Anand Singh was arrested twice for his involvement in the 2009 Ballari mining scam, which resulted in the collapse of the BJP government that year. The CBI arrested Anand Singh in 2013 in connection with the Belikere Port case on allegations of exporting iron ore mined illegally. He was arrested in 2015 by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Karnataka Lokayukta on charges of illegal transportation of iron ore.