A year after the multi-crore IMA Ponzi scheme broke out, former Congress MLA R Roshan Baig was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation on Sunday, despite his attempts to join the ruling BJP and get relief in the case.
On Sunday, the CBI conducted search and seizure operations at Baig’s residence in Bengaluru and took him into custody. He was being questioned at the CBI’s office. He was arrested on Sunday evening.
In all, around 25 people were arrested in connection with the scam including prime accused Mohammed Mansoor Khan. These also include former Assistant Commissioner of Bengaluru North Taluk LC Nagaraj and former village accountant Manjunath N. In a supplementary charge sheet in the same case 28 accused including senior IPS officers Hemant Nimbalkar and Ajay Hilori have been named. Other than the two IPS officers, former deputy superintendent of police (CID) EB Sridhara, inspector and station house officer of the Commercial Street Police Station M Ramesh, and sub-inspector of the station P Gowrishankar has also been listed as accused.
Former Bengaluru Urban DC Vijay Shankar who was also arrested by the SIT and was named as an accused committed suicide in June.
Baig, a seven-time legislator from Bengaluru’s Shivajinagar constituency was named accused in the IMA scam, over his alleged links with IMA scam accused Mohammed Mansoor Khan.
After Khan went absconding, an audio clip by him surfaced on social media, in which he blamed Baig for extorting hundreds of crores for him, because of which his company had suffered losses.
In a video, Mansoor claimed that he paid Rs 400 crore to Baig which had not been returned to him.
In July last year, under the previous Congress-JD(S) coalition government, Baig was detained by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) from Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International Airport, in connection with the scam.
Baig was under suspension from the Congress party, and the then Cheif Minister H D Kumaraswamy had accused the BJP of helping him allegedly escape from the probe. He was later released after questioning.
Baig was first elected as the MLA in 1985 and worked as a minister in the Janata Party government headed by JH Patel. In 1999, when the Janata Dal split to form the Janata Dal (Secular) headed by HD Deve Gowda, and the Janata Dal (United), he decided to move to the Congress. He was elected six times as a Congress MLA and became a popular figure of the party in the city.
However, his political downfall started when he was overlooked in favour of B.Z. Zameer Ahmed Khan, who became the Minister for the Haj and Wakf Board under former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.
In the aftermath of the Lok Sabha elections, Baig earned the wrath of the Congress leadership after he lashed out at party leaders for its poor performance. He held former Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah’s “arrogance” and state Congress president Dinesh Gundu Rao’s “immaturity” responsible for the “flop show”. He had also called AICC general secretary K C Venugopal a “buffoon.”
Later, he had dropped hints of quitting Congress and joining the ruling BJP in a TV interview. He had even appealed to Muslims to “compromise” with the situation, on BJP returning to power, which drew a lot of criticism among his constituents, a majority of who are Muslims. “If BJP comes back to power, I humbly appeal to my Muslim brothers to learn to compromise with the situation,” he had said.
Baig, along with 16 other MLAs, were disqualified by then-Speaker KR Ramesh for rebelling against then Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy and missing the trust vote. In their absence, the Congress-JD(S) government failed to prove the majority in the assembly and subsequently their disqualification brought the assembly numbers down, allowing the BS Yediyurappa-led BJP to comfortably stake a claim at power with just 105 seats and support from an independent.
Since his disqualification, Baig tried hard to make a transition into the BJP, which he had denounced and berated throughout his political career. He and his son started visiting Hindu temples to appease the BJP leadership and Hindu vote bank and even said he would volunteer for the construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya. But despite going head over heels, many in the BJP leadership and party workers did not want Baig to be either named as the candidate or even be allowed to join the party, because of his history and his Muslim identity.
Baig had planned to field his son Ruman Baig as the BJP candidate in Shivajinagar. But the BJP named M Saravana as the party’s candidate in the area, making Baig stand humiliated.