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Karnataka minister quits over mining row

Bangalore, Nov. 22: A Karnataka minister today resigned over charges that he was involved in illegal mining in the state.

Santosh Lad, junior minister for information and infrastructure development, quit on the advice of chief minister P.C. Siddaramaiah.

“I have become a victim of internal conspiracy. But I’m taking a moral stand on the issue although I’m innocent,” Lad told reporters after handing the chief minister his resignation letter.

“I decided to quit as I didn’t want to embarrass the chief minister and the party, and I’m open to any investigation,” he added.

Santosh Lad is a cousin of the Congress legislator from Bellary, Anil Lad, who is among those named in the Karnataka Lokayukta’s July 2011 report on illegal mining.

Siddaramaiah was careful to keep Anil away from his team of ministers, though he won the Bellary seat. But the Opposition had targeted the ruling party for including Santosh Lad in the cabinet.

An MLA from Dharwad, Santosh Lad had been facing flak from the day he assumed charge as a junior minister in May.

Party insiders were, however, surprised by the late-night resignation as the issue was not taken up in a cabinet meeting held earlier in the day.

Sources said Lad was asked to resign since his iron-ore company was alleged to have links with the one owned by his cousin Anil.

The illegal mining controversy had cost the BJP’s B.S. Yeddyurappa his chief minister’s chair.