Senior BJP lawmaker K S Eshwarappa resigned as the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj minister Friday, making it a spectacle by arriving into the city with a large batch of his followers, in what was seen as a show of strength. The Opposition had demanded his resignation after the death of contractor Santosh Patil as the minister was accused of abetting the alleged suicide.
Before handing over his resignation to Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai late on Friday evening, Eshwarappa proclaimed before his supporters in Shivamogga that he would “come out clean” on corruption charges and become a minister again.
Eshwarappa left Shivamogga by road and reached Bommai’s official residence on Race Course Road at around 8.15 pm. A large number of his supporters left for Bengaluru from Shivamogga in 50-60 cars.
His supporters had gathered outside Bommai’s residence, raising slogans urging their leader not to quit. Derogatory chants against Belagavi Rural Congress MLA Lakshmi Hebbalkar – it was in her constituency that contractor Patil undertook road works – were also heard during the demonstration.
Additional police forces were deployed at the CM’s residence to prevent any untoward incident.
It is said that Eshwarappa’s show of strength was meant to demonstrate his relevance in the BJP, especially ahead of party’s national president J P Nadda’s visit to the state. It was also his way of conveying to the party his disgruntlement over his resignation.
Eshwarappa had a saffron stole on and resigned in a room that had Bommai, Urban Development Minister Byrathi Basavaraj, Municipalities Minister MTB Nagaraj, Home Minister Araga Jnanendra and former minister Ramesh Jarkiholi. Except Jnanendra, the rest are Congress migrants.
Eshwarappa, the BJP’s Kuruba face, had to step down following the alleged suicide of Patil earlier this week, which triggered a political storm. In March, Patil had accused Eshwarappa of demanding a 40 per cent cut to release Rs 4 crore for road works he had done in Hindalga, Belagavi.
“I am accused in a suicide case. So, If I continue as minister, it gives an impression that I would influence the probe. So, I have decided to resign as minister,” Eshwarappa told BJP workers at his Shivamogga office.
When a woman asked him why he should resign when he was innocent, Eshwarappa said: “BJP central leaders must feel that I have set a new benchmark in the party to ensure that tainted persons don’t continue in power. Those who conspired against me might be happy now. But, I’ll come out clean.” He also told them that their support had instilled in him new confidence.
Consoling his supporters who broke down, Eshwarappa reiterated that he would be exonerated. “You should not send me off (to Bengaluru) in this manner. Send me happily.