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K’taka contractor suicide case: Congress says CBI probe will expose BJP

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

Bengaluru: The Karnataka Congress has replied to BJP’s Ramesh Jarkiholi’s call for an independent CBI investigation into the murder of contractor Santosh Patil. “Let a CBI inquiry be overseen by a High Court judge,” Congress chairman DK Shivakumar said, adding that “it would only expose the BJP.” In his suicide letter, Santosh Patil blamed Eshwarappa for reportedly wanting a 40% commission in order to pass a contract. The opposition has demanded that Eshwarappa be removed from his position of power, and the matter has become a major flashpoint in the state’s politics.

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Civil contractor Santosh Patil, who reportedly committed himself on Tuesday, accused Mr Eshwarappa, Minister of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj in Mr Bommai’s government, of corruption.

The contractor’s last phone messages mentioned the minister, accusing him of being “solely responsible” for his death. He said Mr Bommai requested a “40% cut money” to settle a 4 crore bill for services he did for the Rural Development Department.

The opposition Congress has been calling for Mr. Eshwarappa’s resignation, accusing the BJP and Mr. Bommai’s administration of hiding the minister.

Asked if there is there was pressure from the high command — which is reportedly inclined to the dismissal of Mr Eashwarappa — Mr Bommai, “I am not under any pressure. There is nothing to do with the high command. It is all purely depending on preliminary investigation decision will be taken”.

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Asked if having Mr Eshwarappa in the cabinet will leave room for a fair probe, the Chief Minister said, “What you think or I think is not important. What is the fact of the case is important”.

Mr Eshwarappa has refused to step down. “If they are asking for my resignation, I won’t give one,” he told reporters earlier this week. Releasing a department letter of March 28,that maintained that no work order was issued, Mr Eshwarappa said, “There was no work order, thus no question of cut money. (Sandeep) Patil wanted payment without norms – how can payment be released without work order?”

The claims levelled by the contractor have sparked a political firestorm in the state, putting the ruling BJP on the defensive. The contractor had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, pleading with him and the Chief Minister to look after his wife and child.

Santosh Patil’s death was “murder, not suicide,” according to state Congress leader DK Shivakumar, who asked that Mr Eshwarappa be prosecuted.

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