In the midst of criticisms and questions over BJP’s inordinate delay over the release of its final list of candidates contesting the May 10 Karnataka assembly elections, senior BJP leader KS Eshwarappa has withdrawn from the electoral race.
In a letter to BJP president J P Nadda, Eshwarappa, who has often been in the midst of controversies, said today (April 11) that he is quitting electoral politics, weeks before the state goes to the polls.
In the brief letter penned in Kannada, Eshwarappa, who resigned as minister last year over a corruption charge, expressed his gratitude to the party for having given him a lot of responsibilities in the last 40 years. “I went from a booth in-charge to state party chief. I also had the honour of becoming deputy chief minister,” he said. The decision of the former state unit president, who played a key role along with B S Yediyurappa in building the party in the state over the last four decades, came in the midst of the BJP finalising its list of candidates for the elections.
“I wish to voluntarily retire from electoral politics. Hence, it is my request not to consider my name for any constituency for the Assembly elections this time,” the former Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council said.
The 74-year-old Kuruba leader, also known for his controversial statements, is a five-time MLA from Shivamogga, and has served as minister holding various portfolios. Kurubas come under the OBC category in the state.
The announcement came amid speculations that the central leadership was weighing the option of denying him ticket for the polls. There were also some reports that he had proposed the name of his son K E Kantesh for the Shivamogga seat. Moreover, Eshwarappa who will be 75 years old in June this year, will come under the BJP’s unofficial age bar rule for leaders to contest polls and hold posts.
Also read: Karnataka Assembly polls: What’s delaying the BJP’s candidates’ list
Eshwarappa quit as the rural development and panchayat raj minister after a contractor Santosh Patil killed himself a year ago in a hotel room in Udupi, accusing him in his suicide note of demanding 40 per cent commission for awarding civil works in Belagavi. Later, a probe by the police gave him a clean chit.
At that time, he had demanded a ministerial berth after he was absolved of the charges but the party did not pay heed to him. He was associated with the RSS from the beginning and was an active member of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), when he was a student of National Commerce College in Shivamogga. Later, he along with Yediyurappa, who also hailed from Shivamogga district, and other leaders toiled hard to build the party in the State
The veteran politician was in the news last month for his comments in public questioning why the prayers playing from a mosque were so loud and whether “Allah is deaf” that loudspeakers are needed to call him.
He had said at a public forum that this (azaan) is a “headache” for him…and went on to wonder if Allah hears prayers only if one screams on a microphone?
“Is Allah deaf? I have no doubt there will be an end to this soon as there is a Supreme Court judgement. PM Modi has asked us to respect all religions, but I must ask can Allah hear only if you scream on a microphone? This issue must be resolved soon,” said Eshwarappa.
According to him, “even we Hindus pray in temples, recite shlokas and sing bhajans, we have more faith than them and it is Bharat Mata who protects religions, but if you say that Allah listens only if you pray with a microphone I must question if he’s deaf. It is not needed, this issue must be resolved”.
Also read: BJP may release first list of Karnataka poll candidates today: Bommai
Marathon meeting to finalise BJP party list
Meanwhile, the BJP, which is holding marathon meetings to finalise candidates, has delayed announcing its electoral candidate for Karnataka’s 224-member assembly almost to the last moment, as nominations close on Thursday.
According to reports, the BJP is hard-pressed to accommodate defectors from Congress and Janata Dal (Secular), who had helped the BJP to come to power in the state and keep its sitting MLAs happy.