Bengaluru/New Delhi: The H.D. Kumarawamy-led Karnataka government was using the IMA Jewels case to coerce R. Roshan Baig to support the ruling coalition, the Congress legislator from Shivajinagar, Bengaluru, told the Karnataka High Court on Tuesday.
Baig’s decision to move court against the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular), or JD(S), coalition indicates that he is unlikely to support the government during the trust vote on Thursday.
Baig is among 16 legislators from the coalition to have submitted resignations as MLAs, pushing the one-year-old government closer to collapse.
“The police are acting illegally to aid the government to coerce the petitioner (Baig) to remain with the party by withdrawing his resignation and supporting the government on the vote of confidence scheduled on 18.7.2019," the petition alleged.
The special investigation team (SIT) probing the multi-crore IMA Jewels scandal stopped Baig from leaving in a private chartered aircraft from Bengaluru International Airport on Monday night for an undisclosed location, before detaining him.
Baig and Congress minister B.Z. Zameer Ahmed Khan are among scores of people being questioned by SIT for their alleged involvement in the scam, in which thousands of small investors were allegedly duped with the promise of over 30% returns per annum.
The incident, however, took a political turn as chief minister Kumaraswamy accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of engineering Baig’s exit to help bring down the government.
“Today SIT probing the #IMA case detained @rroshanbaig for questioning at the BIAL airport while he was trying (to) leave along with @BSYBJP’s PA Santosh on a chartered flight to Mumbai. I was told that on seeing the SIT, Santhosh ran away while the team apprehended Mr. Baig," Kumaraswamy tweeted.
Santosh, who is closely associated with state BJP president B.S. Yeddyurappa, was seen assisting rebels book and board special flights to Mumbai. At least 14 legislators are lodged in Mumbai and are refusing to come back for the discussions on the trust vote.
At least 15 legislators of the Congress and the JD(S) have approached the Supreme Court alleging that Karnataka Assembly Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar was not accepting resignations and that the coalition was using disqualification as a threat to get the rebels to support the government. They urged the apex court to restrain the speaker from proceeding with the applications for disqualification.
The top court, which heard arguments from all sides, is expected to pass an order on Wednesday, on whether it should issue a direction to the speaker to take a time-bound decision (a time-bound direction to decide on the resignation of the MLAs).
The BJP has denied any role in the episode and rushed to defend Baig. In a series of tweets, the BJP insinuated that Kumaraswamy knew the main accused in the IMA Jewels case, Mohammed Mansoor Khan, but has yet to come clean. It said that Kumaraswamy “should immediately stop using state machinery to blackmail anyone who opposes his government".
Since 1 July, 16 legislators have resigned and two others have withdrawn support to the coalition government.
However, both the Congress and the JD(S) are confident of winning the trust vote. All three parties—the Congress, JD(S), and the BJP—have lodged its legislators in high-end hotels and resorts in and around Bengaluru to shield them from any poaching attempts by rivals.