Karnataka minister KS Eshwarappa to resign after being booked for contractor’s death
Santhosh Patil, who allegedly died by suicide, had accused the BJP leader of demanding a bribe to grant him the contract for a government project.
Karnataka Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister KS Eshwarappa on Thursday announced his decision to resign from the state Cabinet after he was booked in connection with the alleged suicide of a contractor in Udupi, reported ANI.
“Tomorrow I’m handing over the resignation letter to CM [Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai],” he said. “I thank you all for co-operation.”
Eshwarappa has been charged with abetment to suicide under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code. Two of his aides, Basavaraj and Ramesh, have also been booked.
The contractor, Santhosh Patil, had died on Tuesday after allegedly consuming a poisonous substance. His body was found at the city’s Shambhavi Lodge where he had checked in on April 11.
In a WhatsApp message purportedly sent by him, Patil had accused Eshwarappa of demanding a bribe to grant him the contract for a government project. In the message sent to his friends, he had blamed Eshwarappa to be “directly responsible” for his death.
A first information report had been filed in the case based on a complaint lodged by the contractor’s brother.
On Thursday, Eshwarappa said that he has decided to resign as he did not want to put senior Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, including the chief minister, in an “uncomfortable situation”, reported PTI.
Eshwarappa announcement came hours after Bommai said that the minister would continue to be part of his Cabinet for now, reported NDTV.
“The [contractor’s] postmortem is done,” Bommai told NDTV. “Let the preliminary inquiry begin. Depending on the preliminary enquiry, we will decide the next course of action.”
The Congress had been demanding that the minister should resign for a fair investigation into the allegations. Earlier on Thursday, the party’s Karnataka unit had held a protest march towards Bommai’s home in Bengaluru demanding the resignation and arrest of Eshwarappa.
Party leaders, including DK Shivakumar, president of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee, and Siddaramaiah, leader of the Opposition in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly, were detained during the protest.
On Tuesday, Bommai had ruled out asking the minister to resign. However, a day later, the chief minister had said that he would speak to Eshwarappa about the case against him.
On Wednesday, Eshwarappa too had asserted he would not resign from his position.