K’taka Minister Eshwarappa Resigns After Meeting CM Bommai

Karnataka minister KS Eshwarappa resigned from the state cabinet on Friday amid opposition pressure over being booked in a case of abetment to suicide following the death of a 37-year-old civil contractor who had accused him of corruption. Eshwarappa’s supporters, who had gathered near the Chief Minister’s official residence, shouted slogans asking him not to resign, and against Congress leaders.

“I have accepted Karnataka Minister KS Eshwarappa’s resignation and will send it to the Governor,” Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai told the media.

After initially ruling out resignation, Eshwarappa had announced his intention to step down on Thursday, saying he doesn’t want his party, the ruling BJP, “to be in trouble”. “Maa Chamundeshwari will prove me innocent. Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said he will investigate this matter thoroughly. If I am wrong, then let God punish me. I will come back after a clean chit. I didn’t want the party to be embarrassed,” Eshwarappa, the state Rural Development and Panchayat Raj minister, had said.

Santosh Patil, a Belagavi-based contractor, was found dead at a hotel in Udupi on Tuesday, weeks after accusing Eshwarappa of corruption. In a purported suicide note in the form of a WhatsApp message, Patil had blamed Eshwarappa for his death. Based on a complaint from Patil’s family, Udupi town police booked Eshwarappa for abetting the suicide.

Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai had earlier said that the senior BJP leader’s exit from the cabinet is not a setback for his government. “He (Eshwarappa) has decided… I spoke to him yesterday, he is of a clear stand and is voluntarily resigning. He has said that he is 100 per cent innocent. He has asked for an investigation to happen at the earliest and is confident of coming out clear,” Bommai had told reporters.

Responding to the opposition Congress’ demands for Eshwarappa’s arrest, the CM said the police should be allowed to investigate. “Was KJ George (minister during Congress rule who was blamed by a police officer before committing suicide) arrested by the Congress government? Neither the Karnataka police nor the CBI had arrested him, despite the NDA government at the Centre. Police will decide if they need to arrest or not,” he said.

The FIR against Eshwarappa was filed on the basis of a complaint from Santosh Patil’s brother Prashanth Patil. The complaint named Eshwarappa and his staff members Ramesh and Basavaraj as the accused.

In the complaint, Prashanth Patil said that in the year 2020-21, residents of Hindalaga village had called on Eshwarappa in Bengaluru and requested him to lay roads, construct storm water drain and pavement in the hamlet. He further said that Eshwarappa gave the nod to start work without worrying about the budget, following which Santosh Patil was awarded the contract.

The complainant contended that his brother had undertaken works worth Rs 4 crore in the village. He had invested his money in the project and the bill for the work was pending. Santosh had visited minister Eshwarappa several times and pleaded him to release the amount. But his close aides Basavaraj and Ramesh were demanding 40 per cent commission, the complaint alleged.

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