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|April 8, 1998||
Union surface transport minister quits
Union Surface Transport Minister Sedapatti R Muthiah today tendered his resignation, after barely 20 days in office.
He submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee this morning, following a directive of All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazagham supremo J Jayalalitha. The prime minister has forwarded the resignation to President K R Narayanan, who has accepted it. Minister of State for Law and Justice N Thambidurai has been asked to hold additional charge of the surface transport ministry.
Muthiah, a AIADMK nominee in the Vajpayee government, is the first minister to resign from the ministry. He and his family were yesterday chargesheeted by a Madras court for accumulating assets disproportionate to their known source of income.
Muthiah was reluctant to resign initially, but a late night missive from the AIADMK supremo to tender his resignation appears to have saved the Vajpayee government from embarrassment.
Addressing the media, Muthiah said he was innocent and would come out clean in the trial. ''It was a case of political vendetta, instigated by rivals,'' he said.
Immediately after the verdict, Jayalalitha directed Muthiah to tender his resignation to uphold the highest moral values and principles in public life.
In a statement issued in Madras, Jayalalitha said that Lok Sabha member C Srinivasan should be included in the Union ministry.
She said the party has decided to withdraw Muthiah from the Union Cabinet as the AIADMK always stood for purity in public life. It also did not want others to find fault with the party, she added.
''One cannot say that Muthiah is corrupt, till the final judgment is delivered,'' she said. ''But I am confident that Muthiah will emerge victorious.''
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