The unnatural death of a civil contractor, Santosh Patil, triggered a controversy in political circles in Karnataka. In his Whatsapp message, he stated that Karnataka Minister and senior BJP leader K S Eshwarappa is to be responsible for his death.
The opposition came out strongly and demanded his ouster. After much hue and cry, the Rural Development Minister in the Bommai government, Eshwarappa, decided to quit from the State Cabinet on Friday.
“I have worked as Rural Development Minister in the Bommai government. I have decided today that I will resign as minister tomorrow, “Eshwarappa said during a short media briefing in Shivamogga on Thursday.
The minister said he was quitting “to prevent embarrassment to the BJP” and would submit his resignation to Bommai in Bengaluru.
The contractor, Santhosh Patil (40), died in a lodge in the Udipi region on Tuesday. He may have consumed poison, and the police are investigating the matter to get to the bottom of the case.
Before his death, Patil had blamed Eshwarappa and his aides for not releasing payments for road work worth Rs 4 crore.
He said he has full confidence that he is not involved in any way in the matter and that he has the moral courage, but if he continues, it gives a lot of people a chance to talk and create embarrassment. He said this should not happen and that an investigation must be completed at the earliest and the truth should come out. He said the truth would result in the dropping of cases against him, “Bommai said.
Eshwarappa belongs to Kuruba community
A veteran leader of the BJP in Karnataka and a hard-core RSS man, Eshwarappa has had the backing of the BJP central leadership for several years. He belongs to the OBC Kuruba community, and is being used by the BJP to counter the Lingayat strongman B S Yediyurappa’s domination of the party.
Bommai said “there was no pressure from the party high command” on the issue. “We informed them of the circumstances of the incident.” Eshwarappa “has decided to resign of his own volition,” he said.
On the possibility of the case being given to a major investigative agency, Bommai said, “Let us first obtain the preliminary investigation report.”
The contractor on Monday night sent messages to journalists and friends in Belagavi, his home place, and mentioned that Eshwarappa would be responsible for his taking a harsh step.
On Tuesday night, Udupi Town police, on the complaint of the deceased brother, registered a case of abetment of suicide against the minister.
Earlier, Eshwarappa refuses his involvement
Earlier, the minister refused his involvement in the suicide case and claimed that he didn’t know Patil. CM Bommai had indicated that a resignation would be sought after the FIR.
The Congress members approached Governor Thawarchand Gehlot and demanded his dismissal from the ministry and arrest