The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Gingee shirks blame

Chennai, May 24: Former minister of state Gingee Ramachandran, who resigned from the Union Cabinet in the wake of the transfer-for-cash scam involving his first personal assistant R. Perumalswamy, said today he “could not be held responsible” for his PA’s alleged misdeeds.

On his return here, the MDMK leader told reporters that he did not initially think that he ought to resign from the government. But he decided to do so later in New Delhi on “moral grounds” and because he did not want to precipitate a crisis for the Vajpayee government.

Asked why he changed his view after stating in Chennai early yesterday, before leaving for Delhi, that there was no need to resign, Ramachandran said in politics, it was not unusual to change one’s decisions in accordance with quickly changing circumstances. He chose his words carefully to convey that he was apparently under no pressure from the BJP to quit.

Clad in his usual white dhoti and shirt, he did not betray any despondency. “I will explain everything to Vaiko (his party chief) in Vellore jail,” he said. Ramachandran, the once all-powerful district secretary of the DMK who comes from Gingee — known for its famous fort — near Tindivanam in Tamil Nadu’s South Arcot district, had quit the DMK to lend Vaiko a helping hand in forming the MDMK in 1993.

The former junior finance minister said he had spoken to only deputy Prime Minister .K. Advani and his department boss Jaswant Singh before handing in his papers and explained to them his point of view. Advani “did not ask me to resign”, he said, adding that even BJP president M. Venkaiah Naidu was of the view that they will “not ask one of the coalition partner’s nominees in the Cabinet to quit”.

Queried why he persisted with Perumalswamy, against whom the CBI had received some complaints as his personal assistant, Ramachandran said: “I came to know about the corruption complaints against him only later.”

Parrying another question on whether the CBI will interrogate him, Ramachandran said he did not know Chennai-based chartered accountant A. Krishnamurthy, who was allegedly the go-between in fixing the transfers for senior Indian Revenue Service officers.

MDMK presidium chairman . Ganesan, who was present at the press conference at the party headquarters here, asserted that the Perumalswamy affair was not a setback for his party. “This phase will be overcome and we will emerge stronger,” he claimed. Ganesan was wary of dubbing the episode as a “conspiracy” against the MDMK. Ganesan said there was no direct charge against Ramachandran as such.

Recalling that NDA convener George Fernandes was rehabilitated after he quit in the face of the Tehelka expose, he hoped Ramachandran would also return to the Cabinet.

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