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Desam boots out tainted legislator

Hyderabad, Sept. 10: The Telugu Desam Party today expelled scam-tainted former labour minister Krishna Yadav following his arrest for alleged involvement in the fake stamp paper racket that came to light three years ago.

Party spokesman Umareddy Venkateswarlu, who announced the decision, said it was now up to the arraigned legislator to decide whether to continue representing his constituency, Himayatnagar in the city, or step down.

The Desam, sources said, is also exploring the possibility of disqualifying Yadav from the Andhra Pradesh Assembly when the monsoon session begins on September 22. The ruling party is likely to move a resolution in the House seeking his disqualification.

The racket, which has been traced to 16 states, surfaced in Andhra in Visakhapatnam after police seized fake stamp papers worth Rs 7 crore. The next haul in West Godavari district yielded bogus stamp papers worth Rs 3 crore.

On Monday, the state government banned the use of stamp paper worth more than Rs 500 to stem the loss to the exchequer, already pegged at Rs 1,200 crore. The figure piles up to Rs 32,000 crore if the other states are taken into account.

An official assessment has revealed that Yadav dealt in fake stamp papers worth Rs 200 crore in the state. Revenue authorities are scanning the former minister’s activities in Visakhapatnam, where he was involved in real estate deals of over a thousand acres. His other assets include five apartment complexes, farmhouses, 300 acres in Nellore district and fish farms in the Kolleru lake.

Andhra police are also under a cloud after reports that an additional director-general of the force had tried to mislead Maharashtra police when they came to arrest Yadav a few days ago. An inspector-general of police is also said to be involved.

However, chief minister . Chandrababu Naidu had ruled out the involvement of other cabinet ministers and senior IPS officials in the scam. A senior Desam leader made light of the chief minister’s clean chit to additional director-general of police Madanlal Kumawat. “The CM only said Kumawat is a nice officer. He did not say he was an honest officer,” the party leader said.

Both the Congress and the BJP have criticised the delay in government action after Yadav’s arrest.

“There was a clear 48-hour delay in the CM’s and government’s responses after the arrest of Yadav. Now the media is being blamed for sensationalisation,” said Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy, Congress leader in the Assembly.

There were reports in the vernacular press against two ministers, seven Desam legislators and several policemen.

BJP spokesman S.V. Sheshagiri Rao alleged an ISI connection in the racket and demanded that all properties of Yadav be seized. He wanted the CBI to investigate racket mastermind Abdul Karim Telgi and the former minister’s links with the Pakistani agency.

A police source said Yadav and Telgi had a lot of influence in the state CID and that investigations had been shelved after nominal visits to Maharashtra and Karnataka. The source said they had bribed the CID to the tune of Rs 34 crore.

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