Booked in suicide case, Eshwarappa quits Bommai ministry

Eshwarappa vows to return as minister, not to take part in BJP meet today
Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and former RDPR Minister K S Eshwarappa pose with the latter’s resignation before the media at CM’s residence on Race Course Raod in Bengaluru on Friday night
Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and former RDPR Minister K S Eshwarappa pose with the latter’s resignation before the media at CM’s residence on Race Course Raod in Bengaluru on Friday night

BENGALURU: Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR) Minister KS Eshwarappa on Friday evening tendered his resignation to Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai after being booked for abetting suicide of BJP leader and contractor Santosh Patil, who was found dead in an Udupi hotel room on Tuesday morning after reportedly consuming a drink laced with poison.

The resignation was submitted even as a huge crowd of Eshwarappa’s supporters had gathered outside CM Bommai’s residence on Race Course Road where the resignation was handed over. Inside the CM’s residence there followed a meeting with Bommai and other ministers, which included Byrati Basavraj, MTB Nagaraj, Araga Jnanendra and former minister Ramesh Jarkiholi. Bommai announced soon after that Eshwarappa’s resignation had been accepted. As per procedures, the Chief Minister will recommend to the Governor for the latter to accept the resignation.

Eshwarappa will not participate in the party’s state executive meeting on Saturday in the newly-formed Vijayanagar district, nor in the next state cabinet, and all his scheduled functions now stand cancelled.
The alleged suicide had taken place after the deceased Patil had put out a “suicide note” in the form of a WhatsApp message blaming Eshwarappa for his death in the wake of his and his associates’ allegedly harassment, demanding 40 per cent commission to release total payments of Rs 4 crore for works said to have been completed by him.

Patil had reportedly taken up this issue with Eshwarappa as well as central BJP leaders. Following Patil’s suicide and the mention of the 40 per cent commission, opposition Congress — which has been referring to the ruling dispensation as a “40% government — had upped the ante and was baying for not only Eshwarappa’s resignation, but also that he be booked under the Prevention of Corruption Act and arrested.

Not a setback for govt: CM

Eshwarappa’s supporters raise
anti-Congress slogans outside
CM’s residence |Nagaraja Gadekal

Eshwarappa had until Thursday evening maintained that “there was no question of his resignation”, which was duly supported by the state government as well as the RSS. However, on Thursday evening, he announced that he would tender his resignation to Chief Minister Bommai on Friday evening.

Although Eshwarappa denied it, sources privy to happenings in New Delhi said the change in his stance was due to central leaders conveying to him that he should resign by citing similar incidents earlier in which ministers had quit after being embroiled in such controversies.

However, CM Bommai, who also said Eshwarappa had decided to resign on his own on moral grounds, said the resignation could not be considered as a “setback” for the state government, and reiterated that a thorough investigation would bring out the truth. He also asked the opposition Congress — which has been demanding Eshwarappa’s arrest — to not act like investigators, prosecutors and judges.

The Congress, which sought to build a narrative against corruption in Karnataka ahead of 2023 polls, has drawn first blood as senior BJP leader KS Eshwarappa exited Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai ministry. AICC General Secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala focussed on allegations of Contractors’ Association about 40 per cent commission in the BJP government after Patil’s suicide.

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