Contractor death case: K’taka Minister Eshwarappa takes a U-turn, says ‘no question of me resigning’

Contractor death case: K'taka Minister Eshwarappa takes a U-turn, says 'no question of me resigning'

Shivamogga (Karnataka): In a recent turn of events, Karnataka Minister KS Eshwarappa, who earlier offered to submit resignation if state Chief Minister Basavraj Bommai asks, said that ‘there is no question of me resigning’ due to any reason. Meanwhile, the opposition is strongly demanding for his resignation as well as his arrest in a case related to the death of a contractor.

“There is no question of me resigning from the post of Minister because of any reason. I have informed CM Bommai and the party president that there is no question of me resigning as a minister,” said KS Eshwarappa, Karnataka Minister for Rural Development and Panchayat Raj.

Eshwarappa termed the incident a “conspiracy” and said it must be found out if the contractor ‘died on his own’. 

“The conspiracy behind the death should be probed. Did he die on his own or for some other reason must be investigated,” Eshwarappa said.

Contractor Santosh Patil died by suicide, has purportedly left a WhatsApp message alleging corruption by Eshwarappa.

The accused minister defended himself and questioned the legality of considering a WhatsApp message.

Denying any relation to the contractor, Minister added, “Officially no work order has been issued to him” and said that there was no death note found near the dead body.

“I have not seen his (Santosh Patil) face but as you (reporters) are saying that he often travelled to Delhi. It should be probed who booked his flight tickets and why.”

While defending himself, Eshwarappa launched an attack on the Opposition (Congress) who has been constantly demanding him to step down from his position. He said “I want to ask the Congress, did you, when in power, release payment without a work order.”

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“Congress leaders Siddaramaiah and DK Shivakumar know nothing. Whatsaap message cannot be taken as a death note,” said Eshwarappa.

The contractor had earlier alleged that Eshwarappa demanded commission for the release of funds for the civil works undertaken by him at Hindalga village in Belagavi district ahead of a festival.

The 37-year-old contractor allegedly committed suicide in a lodge in Udupi on the intervening night of Monday and Tuesday by consuming some poisonous substance, according to police.

The brother of the deceased contractor Santosh Patil on Wednesday demanded the arrest of KS Eshwarappa and his close aides Ramesh and Basawaraj.

Meanwhile, the Karnataka Congress delegation led by state party chief DK Shivakumar, and former chief minister Siddaramaiah met Governor Thawar Chand Gehlot demanding the expulsion of Eshwarappa from the state cabinet as well as his arrest over the contractor’s death.

“FIR lodged against KS Eshwarappa. He and the other accused should be immediately arrested; a case must be filed under the corruption act… In his text message, (deceased contractor) Santosh Patil clearly blamed Eshwarappa for his death. The Minister and his PAs demanded 40 per cent commission. He wrote to PM Modi and met BL Santhosh and others. He categorically mentioned corruption. We demand that the case must be filed under the corruption act,” he said.

Referring to the purported social media message, the Congress leader said “In his WhatsApp message, he clearly said that Eshwarappa is responsible for his death. So Eshwarappa must be arrested.” 

(With inputs from ANI)

first published:April 13, 2022, 7:23 p.m.

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