UDUPI: A civil contractor who levelled corruption charges against the Karnataka minister for rural development and panchayat raj KS Eshwarappa was found dead in a lodge room in Udupi on Tuesday.
The cellphone of Santhosh Patil, a contractor belonging to Hindalaga in Belagavi, remained switched off since Monday. Patil had charged that Eshwarappa demanded a 40 percent commission from him for clearing his bill amount, for road works completed in his village, running to the tune of Rs 4 crore.
Before he went incommunicado on Monday, Santhosh had sent out a message to the police stating that Eshwarappa is responsible for his decision to take his own life. Police launched a search for him and managed to track his location with the help of his mobile phone location data. When police arrived at the lodge room in Udupi, he was already dead, sources said.
Santhosh had alleged that he completed a work contracted to him. But the payment was not released because associates of Eshwarappa demanded a 40 percent commission. Police are investigating the matter further.
Meanwhile, reports said that Santosh Patil had been associated with the BJP. He was reportedly the national secretary of Hindu Yuva Vahini. He even wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi informing his charges against the minister and that he spent nearly Rs 15 lakh to bribe the minister.
Close on the heels of Santosh Patil's death, Congress leaders demanded that Eshwarappa be removed from the Basavaraj Bommai's cabinet.
Further, KPCC president DK Shivakumar and opposition leader Siddaramiah demanded that a case under IPC 302 (Punishment for murder) be filed against the minister. They also demanded Eshwarappa's arrest. Shivakumar demanded the CM not to safeguard anyone. This should not be considered suicide, but murder'' he said.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Shivakumar said the person who took the extreme step had clearly mentioned Eshwarappa's name. This is not suicide, but murder. FIR has to be filed immediately and should not allow any influence. Santosh had earlier alleged about commission against Eshwarappa.
Later taking to Twitter, Shivakumar demanded an immediate time-bound judicial inquiry into the alleged “suicide” of Santosh Patil. "A businessman who had publicly alleged that BJP leaders and ministers were asking for bribes has been suspiciously found dead. Corruption is at an all-time high under BJP rule," he stated.
Shivakumar also said the unease of doing business in Karnataka is such that private companies don’t want to invest in the state. This is one of the reasons why we have high unemployment. Job creators are harassed by BJP’s corruption demands.
Chief minister Basavaraj Bommai said he will think about seeking the resignation of Eshwarappa after the preliminary investigation into the suicide of Santosh Patil is complete.
Addressing a press meeting, the CM said the government will not interfere in the investigation of the case and they will get a free hand. He said Patil who had levelled bribery charges on Eshwarappa had not made any formal submission to the government on the same and he had only made his allegations before the media.
"Eshwarappa had denied the allegations and also lodged a defamation case against him and also a media house for carrying a report on it," he recalled.
On the Opposition leader's demand for CM's resignation over the incident, Bommai shot back asking whether Siddamaiah had resigned when a government official committed suicide when he was chief minister.
(With inputs from Ashwini M Sripad)