PM Narendra Modi Dials Former Minister KS Eshwarappa After Son Denied Ticket

Eshwarappa, a former Deputy Chief Minister, had recently conveyed to the BJP central leadership his wish to retire from electoral politics

Karnataka minister KS Eshwarappa

Days after former minister and sitting legislator K S Eshwarappa's son was denied a ticket by the BJP to contest in the upcoming elections in Karnataka, the former was lauded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday for his commitment to the BJP over a phone call.

His son's candidature was passed over to Channabasappa instead for the Shivamogga Assembly seat in poll-bound Karnataka.

Eshwarappa, who also recently announced his retirement from electoral politics, also shared a video of him talking to Modi in a phone call. In the video, the Prime Minister is heard saying, "You have demonstrated your commitment to the party. I am very happy with you. So, I decided to talk to you."

Modi is also heard saying in the video that he will meet him whenever he visits poll-bound Karnataka. Eshwarappa in response told Modi that the BJP will win the upcoming election. 

Later addressing reporters, Eshwarappa said, "I had no clue even in my dream that the Prime Minister will call me. His phone call has inspired me. We will win the election in the Shivamogga city. We will also make every effort to form the BJP government in Karnataka."

The former minister also said that when party president J P Nadda and BJP general secretary (organisation) B L Santhosh called him with a request to retire from electoral politics, he did not have a second thought and quickly made his decision public.

Who is Eshwarappa?

Eshwarappa, a former Deputy Chief Minister, had recently conveyed to the BJP central leadership his wish to retire from electoral politics. The five-time MLA from the Shivamogga constituency, however, is said to have sought the ticket for his son K E Kantesh from the segment. The party, though, has given the ticket to Channabasappa overlooking the senior leader's request.

The retirement move came as a surprise to many considering his efforts to stay on after his resignation as Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister last year after a contractor who killed himself, accused the minister in his suicide note of harassing him for 40% commission in a road work worth Rs 4 crore that he had executed.

While the police probe gave him a clean chit, Eshwarappa reportedly sought reinstatement in the Cabinet. However, the party did not pay heed to it. In fact, the Lokayukta police are investigating cases of corruption against Eshwarappa during his tenure as deputy CM. Just after the BJP released its first list of candidates, hundreds of his supporters protested outside his residence in Shivamogga, shouted slogans and burnt tyres, opposing his decision. 

Congress reacts

The Congress however accused the BJP of endorsing corruption. They said that Prime Minister Modi congratulating Eshwarappa for not rebelling despite not being given a poll ticket "is unacceptable".  "This man is accused of demanding 40 per cent commission and was forced to resign over corruption charges after BJP worker Santosh Patil committed suicide," they said on Twitter. 

Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera referred to Satyapal Malik's remarks "the prime minister has no problem with corruption" and said that it was just for the sake of votes that the prime minister was seeking the support of a leader who was removed as a minister.

(With inputs from PTI)