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regular-article-logo Sunday, 26 May 2024

K.S. Eshwarappa to quit amid row over suicide of contractor

The BJP leader said late on Thursday that he would submit his resignation to the chief minister on Friday evening

K.M. Rakesh Bangalore Published 15.04.22, 12:41 AM
K.S. Eshwarappa.

K.S. Eshwarappa. File photo

Karnataka rural development and panchayati raj minister K.S. Eshwarappa has decided to quit following an uproar over corruption allegations levelled against him by a civil contractor in a purported suicide note two days ago.

The BJP leader said late on Thursday that he would submit his resignation to the chief minister on Friday evening, a day after he had been standoffish about calls for his scalp in spite of being named in an FIR for abetment of suicide.

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“I have decided to resign tomorrow. I am resigning for the sole reason that my continuance in the cabinet should not pose any discomfort to the chief minister and my seniors,” Eshwarappa told reporters in Mysore.

He expressed confidence over emerging unscathed once the investigation is over. “I believe in God and let God punish me even if I have erred one per cent. I am fully confident of emerging free from this episode,” he said.

Chief minister Basavaraj Bommai confirmed that Eshwarappa had spoken to him about the resignation. “It is his own decision without any pressure from the high command. He told me he would come and meet me tomorrow evening,” Bommai told reporters.

Eshwarappa has been in the eye of a storm since civil contractor and BJP worker Santosh Patil, 42, died by suicide on Tuesday after accusing the minister of seeking 40 per cent commission to clear dues of Rs 4 crore related to road projects Patil had undertaken in a village in Belgaum last year.

Patil had earlier written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and met Union rural development minister Giriraj Singh and other senior leaders of the BJP-RSS to brief them about his allegations against Eshwarappa and his aides.

The contractor had said that he had undertaken the projects purely on the verbal assurance of Eshwarappa and not on proper work orders.

Eshwarappa maintains that he is innocent and that no projects can be implemented without proper work orders and supervision of the department concerned.

The suicide has put the BJP under pressure with the Opposition Congress demanding Eshwarappa’s resignation and arrest and holding protests in Karnataka and New Delhi. The party has also questioned the silence of Prime Minister Modi and other BJP seniors.

Patil’s family has said they will not accept his mortal remains until Easwarappa and the two others they have named in the FIR are arrested, while social media has erupted in condemnation.

Assembly elections are due in Karnataka next year.

Leader of the Opposition P.C. Siddaramaiah and Karnataka Congress president D.K. Shivakumar led a protest to the chief minister’s residence on Thursday. They were later dispersed by the police.

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