Karnataka Minister ‘Accused’ In Contractor Suicide Case Announces Resignation, Congress Demands Arrest
Santosh Patil, a contractor, had committed suicide and left a ‘whatsapp suicide note’ blaming Eshwarappa and the ‘40 per cent commission’ demand by the said Minister for his death.
Karnataka Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister KS Eshwarappa on Thursday (14 April) announced that he would resign from his ministry today (15 April). This comes after a day of intense political drama in the state with opposition leaders taking to the streets and courting detainment in Bengaluru on one hand and Congress leaders in Belagavi too demanding resignation before the final rites of Santosh Patil.
Patil, a contractor, had committed suicide and left a ‘whatsapp suicide note’ blaming Eshwarappa and the ‘40 per cent commission’ demand by the said Minister for his death.
‘I have full faith in God and may he punish me if I have even a single per cent involvement in this episode. I will come out of this free soon,’ said Eshwarappa, a prominent Kuruba leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in a press conference, adding that he was doing it to save party leaders and seniors from being put in a spot.
Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai also addressed media on Thursday evening and said that Eshwarappa had offered to resign to avoid it being made into a larger issue for the moment, but that he still stood by his earlier stand in the case. Bommai also clarified that the party high command had no role to play in the resignation and that the top brass had only ’obtained details’.
Congress demands arrest
“It is abettment to suicide and both 302 and 306 are non-bailable offences as is a case under prevention of corruption act. He should have been arrested immediately,” said former CM Siddharamaiah, reacting to the news of resignation.
Siddharamaiah along with KPCC Chief D K Shivakumar, Congress National Secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala and other state Congress leaders and workers held a rally this morning and planned to stage a protest outside CM Bommai’s residence. They were then initially detained and then arrested.
BJP Leaders Back Eshwarappa
While CM Bommai said the resignation vindicated no one, he reiterated Eshwarappa’s ’faith’ that he will emerge clean out of the investigation. Other party leaders too toed the line saying the suicide is no reason to hold anyone guilty and that ‘investigations will reveal the truth’.
Former minister Ramesh Jharkiholi who had resigned after a Sex CD scandal jumped into the fray claiming that the conspirators behind this suicide episode as well as his sex scandal were the same led by a ‘maha nayaka’ and that he would reveal details soon.
Jharkiholi sought a CBI enquiry into the case alleging a conspiracy behind the suicide incident that has rocked state politics. He also wished that Eshwarappa does not resign and that he had suffered a similar fate owing to the conspirators for the last one year.
He also said, as reported, that the deceased had made a call to one of his associates a few days ago and said that Ramesh Jharkiholi would soon become the Rural Development Minister and that things would then be fine. “Why then will he die?,” he asked, adding that he would reveal things on Monday (18 April). Patil had been in the Congress and shifted post Jharkiholi and the other set of leaders ’defected’ to the BJP post 2018 elections.
“Just because a person has made an accusation it doesn't become the truth. Whatever emerges out of the investigation will be acted upon and legal action will be taken against the guilty then,” said Agriculture Minister B C Patil.
Health Minister K Sudhakar, whose name was among those mentioned by the Karnataka Contractor’s Association as being among the corrupt ones in the current government, also defended Eshwarappa saying there is no need for him to resign. ”Corruption didn't begin after our government came to power. Congress is the source party of corruption,” he said, arguing that it is not right to accuse someone just one the basis of a complaint that has no evidence.
The party and its leaders have been basing their defence on the ‘fact’ that there was ‘no work order’ that was issued and hence the claims that Patil was ‘instructed’ by Eshwarappa to carry on with the said works and later coerced to pay 40 per cent commission will not stand.
Eshwarappa’s Changing Statements
BJP’s official social media handle has turned the tables on Congress and said Santosh was a former Congress worker who had also once forged Rahul Gandhi’s signature and had the ‘Benami Adhyakshe’ for support. S Eshwarappa, the rabble rousing old timer from Shivamogga, had initially been unmoved by all that was happening around and said there was no question of him resigning.
By noon, as the protests around the incident intensified, media reported a pensive Eshwarappa contemplating it. By evening, the Minister who was in Shivamogga said he would head to Bengaluru and resign on Friday, only to save his party and seniors any uneasiness.
“There is no question of me being made a scapegoat. I have faith in my family Goddess and know I will come out clean,” reiterated Eshwarappa in Belagavi.
Congress leaders meanwhile continued their ‘day and night’ protest demanding the arrest of the said Minister and sat in protest at the Vidhan Soudha through Thursday night. “The CM himself is vouching for the innocence of the corrupt minister. How then do you expect the investigating officers to probe the case?” asked Shivakumar, responding to Bommai’s defence of Eshwarappa and his resignation.
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