A file photo of people filing complaints against the IMA Group of companies in Bengaluru.



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Much depends on how the government will handle IMA case

The coalition government in Karnataka is on a roller-coaster ride: from the brink of a collapse soon after the Lok Sabha elections and a patchy relief thereafter to a crisis again, with Congress leaders inimical to the former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah grouping together with senior legislator R. Roshan Baig soon after he was suspended from the party.

It was only a few days ago that the coalition government had some reprieve after two Independents R. Shankar and H. Nagesh were inducted into the Ministry by virtue of which they cannot be poached by the Bharatiya Janata Party, whose State leadership is more than keen on forming a government in the State. The two Independents were available provided their demands were met and the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) stepped in to accommodate them in the government in preference to party seniors who have expressed their dissent over the manner in which their claims for ministership have been ignored.

It was little known to the Congress leadership that Mr. Baig could pose a threat and this apparently prompted his suspension on the charge of anti-party activities. Senior Congress legislators known for their loyalty to the party will, however, refrain from crossing over to another political party, but then they are capable of causing deep embarrassment to the leadership. State president of the JD(S) A.H. Vishwanath is also playing his cards deftly alongside Mr. Baig and has levelled charges against Mr. Siddaramaiah.

Much depends on how the coalition government will handle the IMA case (a Ponzi scheme perpetrated right under the nose of the government), wherein a serious fraud has been played on nearly 40,000 people, largely thanks to the patronage extended by several political leaders and some members of the Muslim clergy apart from the police although none of their names is in the documents. The man who is stated to have committed the offence has fled out of Bengaluru and attempts are on to ascertain his whereabouts.

Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy has ordered an investigation by a Special Investigation Team of the State police which has since submitted a preliminary report. If the government is keen on tracing the culprits and charging the perpetrators of the crime, it should immediately refer the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation. Interestingly, the names of two Ministers prominently figure in the case along with that of local legislator Mr. Baig and they have stated that they had no role to play. Only a probe by the CBI will bring to the fore the role of political leaders in the large-scale cheating case, and opting for a fair investigation will do good for the Chief Minister.

Politics apart, the Chief Minister should be aware that it is the common people who have been lured and duped, and that it was time for him to act rather than speak of his sympathy with the victims of the fraud. Given the nature of the IMA case and its ramifications, the matter can no longer be handled by the local police and it was time for the State government to seek the support of the Centre.

(The writer is Senior Fellow, The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy)