Bitcoin scam: CM accuses Cong of playing politics, reveal those involved or quit, says Siddaramaiah

Bengaluru, Nov 15 (PTI) The ruling BJP and rival Congress on Monday continued to spar over the Bitcoin scam in Karnataka, with Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai asking the opposition party to provide documents to the investigating agencies on the matter while Congress’ Siddaramiah asked the saffron party to reveal the names in the episode or quit.

Sharpening the attack against Congress and defending the government, three state ministers dubbed the opposition party leaders as ‘experts’ in creating fake news, as they challenged them to provide evidence or name those involved in the scam.

Speaking to reporters here, Bommai said the Congress wants to “keep the non-issue alive, and it is nothing but politics”.

“You should ask them (Congress) the question, what I have said is, if there is any document, give it to the ED (Enforcement Directorate) or to the police, it will be taken seriously. I have already said that if there is any truth, it will be investigated,” he said in response to a question on the controversy.

“There is no question of setting any narrative, there is no story, so how can you set a narrative there,” he added.

There have been speculations for some time now about the involvement of politically-influential people in the alleged scam after CCB officials seized bitcoins worth Rs 9 crore from a city-based hacker Srikrishna alias Sriki, who is also accused of hacking into government portals, sourcing drugs through the dark net and paying for it through cryptocurrency.

Congress leaders have alleged the involvement of senior BJP leaders, their family members and senior officials in the scam, and have accused the government of trying a cover-up. The BJP too in its counter has alleged involvement of leaders from the grand old party.

Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah hit out at those in the government for asking him and his party leaders to provide evidence or name those involved in the alleged scam.

” Don’t they (ruling BJP leaders) know (who are involved), let them quit the government if they don’t know and can’t reveal names. What I have said is– you are running the government, had arrested (the main accused Srikrishna), filed chargesheet against him and now he is on bail. Bommai was Home Minister then, I have asked him to name,” he said.

Countering allegations of BJP leaders, the former chief minister said his government was not aware of the bitcoin scam taking place.

“It is true that I was the CM during 2016, it had not come to our notice, we did not know who he (Srikrishna) was, there were no cases against him. Things happened during the BJP government, Bommai was Home Minister during his arrest, police custody and bail,” Siddaramiah said in response to a question.

Regarding a case relating to Sriki’s alleged links in a brawl involving youth Congress leader Mohammed Nalpad, he said “whatever criminal action had to be taken with that case was done….what were they (BJP) doing then? They were in opposition right?”

Meanwhile, addressing a joint press conference with Ministers V Somanna and Gopalaiah, Revenue Minister R Ashoka alleged Congress is intellectually bankrupt and accused its leaders of being experts in creating fake news.

“During the previous elections, Congress tried to create a controversy related to the Rafale scam only to realise that the grand old party leaders were involved in it. Now, they are trying to rake up the Bitcoin issue. I wonder why Congress has turned out to be an expert in fake news. Every Congress leader seems to be an expert in lying without giving facts,” he said.

The Congress party leaders have been making statements on releasing the documents related to Bitcoin, he said, and wondered why they were not producing anything so far.

“I want to question the Congress party to give us details related to Bitcoin as to which company has lost money due to this. Where has the money been transferred to. Let them provide proof,” the Minister said, and alleged that as Bommai was weeding out the drug mafia, Congress party leaders were scared that their names will come out and hence they are trying to create the fake bitcoin scandal.

He questioned the Congress party as to why there was no proper investigation when it was in power, pointing out it was the BJP government that began probing the matter and effected the arrest.

The Ministers also asserted that the BJP government is transparent and knows who should be given the charge of investigation, responding to Congress’ demand for a probe by a sitting Supreme Court judge.

Minister Gopalaiah challenged Congress leaders to make public the names of those involved, and said, “PM (Narendra Modi) and Union Home Minister (Amit Shah) are aware of this. Those guilty will be punished. Congress names will come out in a few days.”

Minister Somanna termed Congress’ allegation as a “bundle of lies”, and saw it as a conspiracy against the Bommai government.

“Truth will come out very soon as investigations are on,” he said.