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BJP Member Who Accused K'taka Min of Corruption Found Dead, Latter Denies Links

Meanwhile, reacting to the news, Congress workers in Shivamogga protested outside the state minster's residence.

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India
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BJP Member Who Accused K'taka Min of Corruption Found Dead, Latter Denies Links
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Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member and contractor Santhosh Patil, who had accused Karnataka Rural Development & Panchayat Raj (RDPR) Minister KS Eshwarappa of corruption, was found dead on Tuesday, 12 April, in Udupi.

Patil had said that Eshwarappa had asked for a bribe of 40 percent of the total cost of a project. As per preliminary investigations, the contractor took his own life in a lodge close to the main bus stand in Udupi.

Addressing reporters after the news broke, the Karnataka minister denied having links with Patil's 'suicide.'

"I had lodged a defamation case against the person who accused me. He should have fought it in the court, I'm nowhere related to his suicide. I've not met him, there is no question of my resignation," KS Eshwarappa said.

Meanwhile, reacting to the news, Congress workers in Shivamogga protested outside the state minster's residence, where slogans of 'we want Justice' were raised.

'Arrest and Dismiss Eshwarappa': Congress Lashes Out

While Congress Leader DK Shivakumar demanded a timely judicial inquiry into Santhosh Patil’s death, Opposition and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah levelled serious accusation against the BJP minister, saying that it was clear that the incident was a 'murder'.

“The government should file an FIR against him under Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code. Eshwarappa should immediately be arrested and he must be dismissed from the Cabinet,” The News Minute quoted Siddaramaiah as saying.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi took to Twitter to say, "BJP’s 40% Commission government in Karnataka has claimed the life of their own Karyakarta. The victim’s pleas to the PM went unanswered."

Meanwhile, echoing calls for arrest and dismissal, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said that any delay in action will prove Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai's complicity in the matter.

Surjewala added that the Congress will gherao the CM's residence if Eshwarappa is not arrested, TNM reported.

Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge also reacted on the issue and said, "CM should immediately take action on this. Contractors keep talking about their condition, they take loans to complete their work, if ministers keep harassing them, they will not be able to work here," ANI quoted.

What Had Happened?

Santhosh, who hailed from Hindalaga in Belagavi, had been missing since Monday, 11 April. A day later, his body was found in a lodge in Udupi.

Police officials are investigating a text message he purportedly sent to his friends stating that he had decided to end his life and that Eshwarappa was "solely responsible for his death."

"RDPR minister KS Eshwarappa is solely responsible for my death. I am taking this decisions keeping my aspirations aside. I request with folded hands to our prime minister, chief minister, our beloved lingayat leader BSY and everybody else to extend a helping hand to my wife and kids," the note, allegedly sent from his phone, stated.

The police are reportedly looking into his call data records.

The Corruption Allegations

Apart from Eshwarappa, Patil had also accused officials in the RDPR of corruption.

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Notably, Patil was one of the many contractors who had accused the BJP government in Karnataka of asking for exorbitant bribes from contractors and increasing corruption.

Patil, who was the national secretary of the Hindu Yuva Vahini, had told The News Minute last month that Eshwarappa had allegedly not released payments for a project Patil had finished in 2019, and that due to this, he was being hounded by loan sharks.

He was quoted as saying, "Because of the pandemic and other political reasons, the process kept getting delayed. I finished the project in 2019 but have not received a single penny for it yet. I have borrowed money heavily for it and am being hounded by loan sharks now."

Eshwarappa Sues Patil for Defamation

Meanwhile, Eshwarappa had earlier, too, denied these allegations and claimed that he did not know the contractor at all. Patil was later sued for defamation.

However, claiming to possess photographs with Eshwarappa at the latter’s residence in Shivamogga, Patil stated that he had met the minister as well.

Patil said that no work order was raised for the road work that he undertook in Hindalga as Eshwarappa had given him an oral assurance.

"But neither the work order was raised, nor was the payment released. When I kept following up with Eshwarappa, some of his assistants asked me for 40 percent of the total project, almost Rs 4 crore, to have the total payment processed," Patil told TNM.

He wrote in the message sent a day before he died, "I am going on a journey of no return. I have taken this decision after suppressing all my wants and desires. I have brought some friends with me, after lying to them that we are going on a picnic. But they are not responsible for my death...I thank all my friends I also thank the journalists for highlighting my problems," according to the police, reported by The Hindu.

Patil also requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa to protect his wife and child.

(With inputs from The News Minute and The Hindu.)

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Topics:  BJP   Corruption   KARNATAKA 

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