Karnataka contractor's death: Is Minister Eshwarappa resigning due to high command pressure?
Bengaluru/Shivamogga, Apr 14: Karnataka Minister K S Eshwarappa, who is facing charges of abetment to suicide in connection with the death of a civil contractor in Udupi, on Thursday announced stepping down from his position, ending days of defiance.
The announcement comes a day after he was named in the FIR registered in connection with the death of Santosh K Patil, who had charged Eshwarappa with corruption. Addressing a press meet in Shivamogga, Eshwarappa said, "I have served as the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister in the Karnataka government. I have taken a decision today to resign from my ministerial position."
He further said he would tender his resignation letter to Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Friday. Meanwhile, opposition Congress stepped up its attack on the beleaguered Eshwarappa demanding his arrest as the next step. Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai clarified that Eshwarappa decided to resign on his own and there was no pressure from the party high command.
The Minister was booked on Wednesday in connection with the suspected suicide of civil contractor Santosh K Patil, who was found dead in a hotel in Udupi. The contractor had accused the minister and his close aides of demanding 40 per cent commission for executing a civic work in Hindalga village in Belagavi in 2021 ahead of a village festival.
"I decided to resign because I don't want to put in an uncomfortable situation those who helped me rise to this position, such as seniors in the party, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and our national leaders," Eshwarappa said.
"I will go to Bengaluru tomorrow and tender my resignation to Bommai," he added. Expressing his gratitude to the CM and all his friends in the party for their support, the BJP leader said he was confident of coming out clean in the matter. "... If there is even one per cent of mistake of mine, God will punish me... I am confident that I will come out clean from this episode," he said.
Asked whether there was any pressure from the party high command, Eshwarappa said he has spoken to those he was supposed to. To another query, he said he can never be made a scapegoat as he believed in God. Reacting to the development, Bommai told media in Bengaluru that Eshwarappa decided to step down as he did not wish to give room for his opponents to speak against him and took the decision after much deliberation.
"There was no pressure from the party high command. He has morality.. he has decided on his own to resign," Bommai said. According to him, Eshwarappa has asked him to complete the investigation into Patil's death at the earliest. "Eshwarappa has said truth will prevail and he will come out clean. Till then he wished not to continue in his position."
On Congress' criticism over the issue, the CM said the opposition party had no moral rights to comment on the matter. Stepping up pressure on the ruling party, Congress said mere resignation of Eshwarappa will not do and sought his arrest. Referring to the case of abetment to suicide registered against Eshwarappa, Leader of Opposition in the assembly Siddaramaiah said his party also wanted him to be booked for graft.
"The abetment to suicide is a heinous crime and not just a non-bailable offence. In all heinous crimes, accused person should be arrested but in Eshwarappa's case it has not happened," Siddaramaiah said. The senior Congress leader wondered whether special privilege has been accorded to the minister.
In Shivamogga, Eshwarappa's supporters staged a demonstration against the Congress leaders. Earlier, Eshwarappa had rejected calls for his resignation over the issue, saying he was not at fault. Patil's death has triggered a major political row and demands from the opposition Congress for the resignation of the BJP leader or his dismissal from the Cabinet. PTI