It was that day when the Lok Sabha elections had ended and as usual, it had to be calm after months of hectic politicking.
However, a disgruntled Congress leader from Bengaluru was nothing but calm. He chose to wash the dirty linen through the press. He vented his frustration against his party bosses, calling one a “buffoon”, and another a “flop show”. A seven-time MLA from Shivajinagar / Jayamahal constituencies in the silicon valley of India, R Roshan Baig desired to contest from the Bengaluru Central Lok Sabha seat but was sidelined.
Considering his seniority, the party chose to deal with kid gloves instead of cracking a whip on him. A notice was sent seeking explanation on his unusual and untimely outburst.
A seasoned politician that he is and with his vast experience, Baig must have sensed trouble if the BJP returned to power. And he must have thought it was better he became vocal against his own party in a bid to warm up to the BJP. He later quit the party hoping the saffron party will welcome him with open arms.
It was a complete misreading of the situation for the senior leader. The BJP knew that the man would be a mere liability given his involvement in the IMA scam that runs into thousands of crores.
Time passed by since his fireworks against his own men until the ex-MLA on November 24, 2020 was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation. The agency will now interrogate him for his role in the IMA ponzi scheme case.
The IMA Ponzi Scam
The IMA scam came to light after thousands of investors filed police complaints in the middle of 2019. It is estimated that the promoters of the IMA may have siphoned off over Rs. 4,000 crore from hard working, middle class people, which they collected in the name of ‘Sharia-compliant’ investment fund.
Muslims across south India saw an opportunity to earn “Halal” income and invested in this firm in hordes.
For many, it was a platform not only to make income source but also as a saving through which they had planned marriages, pilgrimage, house construction and so on and so forth.
The main accused in the scam, Mohammed Mansoor Khan, had named Baig as the one who had taken over `400 crore from him in a video that went viral on social media before the former’s arrest last year.
When more than a dozen MLAs of the Congress and the JDS decided to call it quit with their parties in a bid to facilitate the BJP form a government in Karnataka, sensing an opportunity to tag along, Baig too gave up his assembly seat. To his dismay, the BJP neither rewarded him nor his son with a ticket from Shivajinagar.
All the saffron party did was to ask him help the BJP romp home in the by-elections. It was widely reported in the media that Baig had had an audience with Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa pleading his case. However, the party kept him at an arm’s length.
Bragging about nothing moves in Vidhan Soudha without my knowledge
As local MLA of the Shivajinagar constituency, Baig always presided over events at the Vidhana Soudha, which falls under his constituency, as a matter of protocol. He took much pride in reminding people that nothing happens at Vidhan Soudha, the administrative house of the state, without his knowledge.
Support to BJP
As desired by the BJP, he did support the party candidate in the by-election in December 2019. But that was not enough for the BJP to cross the finishing line in the constituency dominated by the minorities and Tamils.
Rizwan Arshad, who eventually won from the Baig bastion, had to face hostility from Baig both in 2014 Lok Sabah polls and again in the 2019.
As any seasoned politician would desire to pass on the baton to his/her dynast, Baig wanted to reserve his pocket borough for his heir. Arshad was young and promising leader from the community which again was an eyesore to Baig.
The dream run of Baig’s career spanning over three decades seems to have come to a dead end in 2020 with this IMA Ponzi scam driving another nail. Beyond doubt, the year has poured in miseries on all in general but Baig in particular.
In eye of storm
Commenting on the storm Baig is now in, a Congress leader pleading anonymity said: “Nothing is proven yet, but these are monies taken from middle classes and poor. And coming from that community, to cheat your own community, when those people had reposed their faith in you and they have been cheated, and I have a feeling he knew about it, whether he had a direct role or not. It is a sad reflection on him.”
Baig and controversies
Controversies are not new to Baig. In addition to the IMA Ponzi Scam, it was suspected that this ex-Congressman had a role in the stamp paper racket that hit the headlines in 2003. He had resigned as Minister from the SM Krishna cabinet. His brother was named as an accused along with Abdul Karim Telgi, the prime scamster.
Had the things worked out as planned, Baig would have been a BJP MLA or at least a party functionary. And the outcome of the probe of his involvement in the IMA scam would be anyone’s guess.
Fall from grace
The once tall leader is neither in the Congress nor in the BJP; neither an MLA, nor an MP. None of his family member’s hold any political sway either. A powerful and influential leader just a year back is now jailed. His image in the public is bruised badly and popularity waning too fast. His fall from grace due to the IMA scam was fast and steep.
“2020” has really been a tough year but the ex-MLA may have to blame himself rather than “2020” for the situation he is in now.