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The Hindu
The Hindu
Nagesh Prabhu

Did Congress protest force BJP to seek Eshwarappa’s resignation?

The Opposition Congress, which has been in a protest mode against the policies of the State and Central governments for the last six months, seems to have succeeded in putting pressure on the ruling BJP to seek the resignation of RDPR Minister K.S. Eshwarappa, who has decided to quit from his post on Friday.

The party launched a 24-hour day-and-night protest on Thursday seeking the dismissal of Mr. Eshwarappa from the State Cabinet for his alleged role in the death of Belgaum-based contractor and BJP worker Santhosh K. Patil.

Jarkiholi case

As it had succeeded earlier (March 2021) in forcing Ramesh Jarkiholi to quit the B.S. Yediyurappa-led Ministry, after he was allegedly involved in a sexual harassment case, the Congress is expected to continue its protest against the State Government’s policies and alleged 40% commission in the execution of development works at least till the end of this year, as MLAs have to focus on elections next year, sources in the party said.

In fact, the Congress had sought the sacking of Mr. Eshwarappa from the Cabinet for his controversial remarks on hoisting of the saffron flag (Bhagwa dwaja) on the Red Fort in future. The Minister had made the remark in the backdrop of the murder of Hindutva activist Harsha in Shivamogga.

A verbal duel between KPCC president D.K. Shivakumar and Mr. Eshwarappa in the Legislative Assembly on February 16, 2022, had turned intense and both had almost come to blows when the former called the latter "anti-national" for his remark on the national flag.

Subsequently, Congress legislators had held a night-long dharna in the legislature in February for four days demanding the dismissal of Mr. Eshwarappa from the Cabinet, but without any success. Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai defended his Cabinet colleague and blamed the Congress for the “tense environment” in the State. 

But the contractor’s purported “death note” blaming Mr. Eshwarappa made his staying untenable and Congress protests seemed to have further embarrassed the ruling BJP, which asked the Minister to quit.

Protests galore

The Congress has been staging protests against the State Government on one or the other issue for the past several months. 

In 2021, the Congress held protests even during the the pandemic. It launched a ‘100 not out’ campaign across the State against the hike in fuel prices terming it as “criminal loot”. It later held rallies from the Vidhana Soudha to the Raj Bhavan opposing the alleged surveillance of phone numbers of key Congress and JD(S) leaders during the 2019 coalition government using Pegasus spyware. It held protests seeking the resignation of Home Minister Araga Jnanedra over the alleged gang rape of a college girl in Mysuru and his remarks against the Congress, but failed in its effort.

The party embarked on a padayatra to Bengaluru from Mekedatu in two phases this year (January and February-March) to pressure the State Government to expedite the execution of the Mekedatu project.

Mr. Shivakumar told The Hindu last week, "We will continue our agitation and will not sleep till the BJP Government is overthrown." Mr. Eshwarappa's decision to quit would surely strengthen the party's  agitation plans in the coming days, leaders said.

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