Rebel Congress legislator and former state minister R. Roshan Baig was detained at the Bengaluru airport and prevented from taking off in a chartered aircraft, police said.
“Baig was detained for questioning at the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) when he was about to take off in a private aircraft to an unconfirmed destination from Bengaluru,” Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) B.R. Ravikantha Gowda said in a statement here on late Monday night.
Baig, an eight-time legislator and former minister in the previous Congress government, resigned on July 10 from the Shivajinagar assembly segment in the city centre.
“We will verify if Baig’s sudden plan to leave Bengaluru has anything to do with the recent release of a video in Youtube by the multi-crore Ponzi scheme prime accused Mansoor Ali Khan,” Gowda said.
Gowda heads the Special Investigation Team (SIT) set up to probe the Ponzi scheme in which about thousands of investors were allegedly cheated.
The Congress also suspended Baig on June 19 for alleged anti-party activities, including criticism of the party’s state leaders after the recent Lok Sabha elections in which the party was routed in the southern state.
Incidentally, documents (crew and passenger manifest) of the private aircraft operator Finnacle Air Ltd police shared shows it was to fly to Pune from Bengaluru with Baig and another passenger – N. R. Santhosh, private secretary to opposition BJP leader B.S. Yeddyurappa.
Sensing trouble and seeing the police in large presence at the airport waiting for Baig’s arrival, Santhosh left quietly as his name was struck off in the manifest.
Commenting on the dramatic development, Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy tweeted: “I was told that on seeing the SIT, Santhosh ran away while the police apprehended Baig.”
Accusing the BJP of engineering the defection of the 16 rebel legislators from the ruling Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) allies to destabilise his 13-month-old coalition government, the Chief Minister said in another tweet: “It’s shame that @BJPKarnataka is helping a former minister to escape, who is facing a probe in the IMA (Ponzi) case.”
“This clearly shows #BJP’s direct involvement in destabilising the government through horse trading,” Kumaraswamy added.
Refuting the Chief Minister’s charge, BJP’s state unit tweeted: “CM @hd_kumaraswamy is using the state machinery to save his government now. Baig was given time till July 19 to appear before the SIT. This shows the how the state government was blackmailing treating its own MLAs by using the state-run institutions.”
Baig is one of the 5 rebel legislators who filed a petition in the Supreme Court on July 13, seeking its directive to the state Assembly Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar to accept his resignation forthwith.
The Speaker on Monday asked the Chief Minister to move the trust vote on July 18 to prove he has majority in the Assembly to save his government, which has been reduced to minority after the rebels retired and two Independents withdrew support to it.