Senior BJP leader and former Deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka, KS Eshwarappa, has announced his retirement from electoral politics after a 40-year-long career in the field. In a letter written in Kannada, the 74-year-old politician expressed gratitude to his party for giving him many responsibilities over the years, including the position of Deputy Chief Minister.
Eshwarappa’s retirement comes ahead of his 75th birthday in June, after which he would have been ineligible to hold a public office, given the unofficial age bar in the BJP. He has served in several official and party positions, including as the Minister of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj of Karnataka.
Hailing from a humble background, Eshwarappa got educated in Commerce and was associated with the BJP since his student days. He contested the Karnataka assembly elections as a BJP candidate from Shimoga in 1989 and went on to win four more times from this constituency, losing only once in 1999. In 1992, he became the President of the State unit of BJP and was instrumental in his party’s good performance in the 1994 state assembly elections. In 2000, he was appointed the Chairman of the Central Silk Board when the NDA government was in power.
However, Eshwarappa’s political career has also been marked by controversies. He recently came under fire for his remarks on Islam, questioning the use of loudspeakers during azaan and asking if “Allah” is deaf. The statement had sparked a lot of backlash from various quarters.
Eshwarappa’s retirement has sparked speculations about the BJP’s list of candidates for the upcoming elections, as other major parties have already released partial or full lists of their candidates. The BJP is yet to announce its list.
Despite the controversies, Eshwarappa remains a popular leader in the state, and his retirement is being seen as the end of an era in Karnataka politics.