RDPR minister K.S. Eshwarappa. (Twitter)
Udupi: Santosh Patil, a contractor who had alleged that Karnataka minister K.S. Eshwarappa’s associates had asked for 40 per cent commission to clear his bills, was found dead in a lodge in Udupi on Tuesday.
Sources claimed that he had sent a message from his mobile phone stating that he had decided to end his life. The screenshot of the purported message read: "RDPR minister K.S. Eshwarappa is responsible for my death. He should get proper punishment. I have taken this decision keeping aside all my desires."
"With folded hands, I request the Prime Minister, Chief Minister, B.S. Yediyurappa, and all to help my wife and child. I thank the media persons (sic)," he wrote.
A few days ago, Santosh had written to the Prime Minister about the non-payment of bills for the contract work.
"RDPR minister K.S. Eshwarappa told me to complete road work on February 12, 2021 (in Belagavi). We completed more than 108 works at an estimated cost of Rs 4 crore. But more than one year has passed but we have not received any work order nor a single rupee from him or concerned authorities," he stated in the letter to Modi.
"The minister’s associates are annoying (me) by asking to provide them a commission... I am in great tension and have a huge pressure of the creditors who have given me finance on interest, If the payment and work order not given me on immediate basis then unwillingly, I do not have an option for myself except suicide," he had stated in the letter to the PM.
The Congress attacked BJP government, holding it responsible for Santosh’s death and demanded an FIR against minister Eshwarappa and an independent probe into the incident.
Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi accused the Prime Minister and the Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai of being complicit in the contractor's death. "BJP's 40% Commission Government in Karnataka has claimed the life of their own Karyakarta. The victim's pleas to the PM went unanswered. The PM and CM are complicit. #BJPCorruptionFiles (sic)," Gandhi said on Twitter.
"The death of contractor Santosh Patil is tragic and a result of ‘commission politics’ of BJP Karnataka," said former chief minister Siddaramaiah.
He also attacked Prime Minister Modi. "He should be ashamed to coin the slogan ‘Na khaunga, na khane dunga.’ He should limit himself to writing scripts for Bollywood films, instead of running the government. I am not sure if he is capable to do even that," he said.
Patil, who hailed from Hindalaga in Belagavi district, had left home stating that he was going on a picnic with his friends. In his purported last message, Santosh wrote, "Santhosh and Prashanth have come along with me as I had told them that we would be going on a picnic. They have no connection with my death."
While Chief Minister Bommai said the police would conduct a thorough and transparent investigation, Eshwarappa refused to resign from the Cabinet, insisting he was not at fault and that he had filed a defamation suit against Santosh for levelling the allegations.
"The room (where Santosh died_ has been sealed. Next step will be taken after the arrival of forensic team from Mangaluru," Udupi superintendent of police N Vishnuvardhana told reporters.
Santosh Patil's wife Jayashri told reporters in Belagavi: "My husband is not the one who can commit suicide. It is a murder. A man who always advised people not to commit suicide cannot take such a drastic step. What does it mean that a man who happily spoke to me last evening is no more," she asked.