Internal bickerings in AP Cong, partymen ask Ponnala to quit

Hyderabad: Internal differences within the ruling Congress in Andhra Pradesh came to the fore today with a group of senior leaders and MPs demanding resignation of state Irrigation Minister Ponnala Lakshmaiah for the alleged irregularities in irrigation projects.

"Minister Lakshmaiah should be held responsible for various irregularities. He should immediately resign. IAS officer C V S K Sarma, who was secretary in Irrigation Department, is now in Chief Minister's Office. He should take 100 per cent responsibility," Palvai Govardhan Reddy, a senior Congress leader, told reporters.

Several MPs and other leaders from Telangana region held a meeting at Govardhan Reddy's residence today.

Lakshmaiah, who also hails from Telangana, has been the irrigation minister since Congress assumed power under the leadership of late Y S Rajasekhara Reddy in 2004.

Nalgonda MP G Sukhender Reddy said he and his colleagues would meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and party president Sonia Gandhi to apprise them about the alleged corruption in the irrigation projects.

He demanded a change in the design of Polavaram irrigation project in coastal Andhra to "save the lives of hundreds of people in the region and to prevent submergence in Telangana".

Terming the allegations against him as untrue, Lakshmaiah dismissed the demand for his resignation.

"This government has given due importance to Telangana in irrigation projects. There is no truth that we did not care for Telangana. It is a historical fact that we ensured transparency in the implementation of irrigation projects by conducting public debates over the whole issue. When the allegations are untrue, there is no question of my resignation," he said.