Gandhi lets go a corrupt official

Amid a floodtide of concern over official corruption, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi has accepted the resignation of a state chief minister found guilty of peddling scarce government-controlled cement in exchange for ''donations'' to trust funds he controlled, writes special Monitor correspondent Carol Honsa.

Mrs. Gandhi is not likely to win points for dealing with the corruption, however, which is widely perceived to be at an all-time high in post-independence India.

Although the scandal involving Maharashtra Chief Minister A. R. Antulay had been boiling since August, Mrs. Gandhi defended her hand-picked minister and refused to accept the resignation he offered in September. She acted Tuesday only after the Bombay high court found Mr. Antulay guilty essentially of demanding kickbacks.

Even ardent Gandhi supporters had been puzzled by the prime minister's reluctance to sack or at least suspend Antulay in the face of overwhelming evidence. Some said she regarded the charges against him as an indirect attack on her; that she did not wish to appear weak by yielding to public pressure; or that she feared his sacking would open a floodgate of corruption charges against other ministers and officials.

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