Ex Karnataka Minister Cleared In Contractor Suicide Case

KS Eshwarappa, who was also accused of corruption, was forced to step down after intervention from the BJP's central leadership.

Former Karnataka minister, the BJP's KS Eshwarappa, who had to step down from the post after a huge controversy following the suicide of a contractor, has been cleared by the police after investigation in the case. The former minister was named in the police case filed over the suicide, with the contractor accusing him of being "solely responsible" for his death in his last messages.

Santhosh Patil had died by suicide on April 12 and Mr Eshwarappa, who was suspected to have a role in the matter, was cleared due to "lack of evidence", the police said. A report in connection with the suicide has been filed at the court of the Public Representatives.

The minister, who was also accused of corruption, was forced to step down after intervention from the BJP's central leadership.

Sources had indicated that the high command had given clear directions to the state that Mr Eshwarappa must step down to save the party's anti-corruption image.

Santhosh Patil, who made the corruption allegations against Mr Eshwarappa in his last WhatsApp messages to friends and political leaders, had apparently marked them to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well.

The contractor had reportedly been given an oral instruction by the minister -- who handled the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj portfolios -- for a Rs 4-crore project. He claimed he completed it by borrowing money and even selling his wife's jewellery, but received no payment even after 18 months. Then Mr Eshwarappa, he alleged, demanded "40 per cent cut money" to clear the Rs 4 crore bill.

The state's powerful contractor lobbies admitted that there is an existing culture of commission, which goes well beyond 40 per cent.

Mr Eshwarappa has denied any wrongdoing, declaring, "If there's even one per cent guilt in this matter, my family goddess will punish me". He also maintained that no work order was issued, and so, there was "no question of cut money".

"(Santhosh) Patil wanted payment without norms - how can payment be released without work order?" he had said.

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