BENGALURU: The Congress party mounts pressure on the state government to drop Rural Development and Panchayat Raj minister KS Eshwarappa from the cabinet following the suicide of a contractor Santosh Patil.
The Udupi police on Wednesday booked Eshwarappa and his aides on charges of abetment of suicide.
Santosh Patil, who was also a BJP member, was found dead in a hotel on April 12. The inquest report suggested that he consumed pesticides. He had held Eshwarappa responsible for his death. Patil, before his death, 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.
Now, while the Congress party demanded Eshwarappa's resignation, chief minister Basavaraj Bommai affirmed that no action will be taken against Eshwarappa till a preliminary inquiry is done.
"Complete probe on Santosh's death will be done. Let the truth come out. There is no need to reply to baseless allegations. If they have any proof, let them share with the government, we will conduct a probe," he said.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Bommai said, "Congress was voted out in the state by the people because of the anarchy and turmoil that prevailed during its reign. So, they do not have any moral right to question the government. The ongoing demand for the minister's resignation is nothing but a political conspiracy," he claimed.
Bommai claimed that there was no interference from the party high command in connection with this case. "The high command just sought a report from us, " he quipped.
To a query on opposition leader Siddaramiah, who made allegations of corruption in the CMO, Bommai hit back saying that when he (Siddaramiah) was the chief minister there were many corruption charges including BDA multi-crore scam. "Siddaramiah is in a responsible position, if there are any specific cases, let him mention, we will conduct an inquiry'' he said.
When sought his reaction on Karnataka Contractors' Association President Kempanna's charges against ministers Sudhakar and Govind Karjol, Bommai answered, "let them make any allegation against anyone, but it should be specific. I shall conduct an inquiry."
On Kempanna's threat that contractors would stop ongoing works, Bommai replied that theirs is not the only association in the state.
BELAGAVI: Meanwhile, on Wednesday, a massive agitation was organised by the Congress under the leadership of KPCC working president Satish Jarkiholi in Belagavi city.
A rally was taken out by the party workers and leaders from the district Congress office in Belagavi to the DC office where a memorandum, addressed to the governor, was submitted to Deputy Commissioner M G Hiremath by the leaders demanding Eshwarappa's immediate arrest.
Addressing the protesters, Jarkiholi appealed to the state government to hand over the murder case of Santosh Patil to the CBI immediately and said the government should also make Eshwarappa resign as a minister immediately.
"Prime Minister Narendra Modi had accused the earlier Congress government in the state as "10 percent commission government'' without any basis. Now, the contractors alleged that Minister Eshwarappa is demanding a 40 percent bribe but the PM has remained tightlipped,'' said Jarkiholi.
Santosh Patil would not have ended his life had the PM or the state government had responded to his letters on the bribes demanded by the minister. For the corruption in which the minister and the state government were involved, a contractor had to die today, he said.
He said that the president of the State Contractors Association too has alleged that a huge bribe was being demanded by the government for various works.
Several leaders of the Congress spoke on the occasion and decided to continue putting pressure on the government for Eshwarappa's removal from the cabinet.