BENGALURU: Congress leader Priyank Kharge on Wednesday claimed that the 'bitcoin scam' will cost Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai his job and the BJP government will see a third CM this time too, as witnessed in 2008-13.
"This government is trying to shut the bitcoin scam very systematically. BJP senior leaders, their children and officials are involved in it...It is a multi-crore scam, drugs case kickback, transfer kickback has been obtained through bitcoin. Investment scams have also happened through it," the MLA alleged.
"The Bitcoin case will cost the Chief Minister his chair. The previous tenure of the BJP government saw three Chief Ministers. This time also you will see three Chief Ministers," he told reporters in the district headquarters town of Kalaburagi.
The BJP's tenure between 2008-13 saw B S Yediyurappa, D V Sadanada Gowda and Jagadish Shettar as Chief Ministers, while Bommai succeeded Yediyurappa in July this year.
Demanding that the government make public documents about it and hand over the bitcoin case to the Enforcement Directorate or CBI, the former Minister sought to know what was the cause of the delay.
"What is causing the delay...why is the CM delaying? Why is the Home Minister delaying? The Home Minister seems to be unaware of things. He has to take the briefing as his own officials are involved in it."
"Srikrishna, the main accused in the case, has become the prized possession of BJP...if there is transparent and impartial probe, things will come out in 10 days," he said, claiming that the scam came to light when the US's economic offences wing flagged it to the PMO during Prime Minister Modi's visit to that country.
Not willing to react to Kharge's statement, Bommai, who is in New Delhi, in response to reporters' questions, asked him to get complete information and speak.
"There are names of Congress leaders (linked to the case), let him worry about them," he said.
There has been speculation for some time now about the involvement of politically influential people in the scam after CCB officials seized bitcoins worth Rs nine 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.
Senior Minister K S Eshwarappa too slammed the Congress for accusing BJP leaders of involvement in scam, calling it a "cheap publicity stunt'' and challenged them to release the documents and names.
"If Congress leaders D K Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah are honest and want to bring out the names of the corrupt people in the bitcoin scam, instead of repeatedly saying that BJP leaders are involved, let them give one name, rather than levelling baseless allegations," he said.
Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah, responding to a question on charges about Congress leaders' involvement in the scam, said that whoever is involved, irrespective of their party affiliation, should be booked and their names must be made public.
"Name the Congress leaders involved, arrest them...who is running the government, who has police and investigation agencies under control?...looking at Bommai's statement I have started getting doubts...he is speaking as though he is caught. I'm not saying he is involved (in the scam)," he said, as he hit out at the CM for his statement and asked him to make responsible and not "escapist" statements.
Responding to the BJP's demand that he name those involved, Siddaramaiah said "why should I say? I will reveal when the time comes. You (BJP) are in government. Quit if you can't, we will come and reveal names."
However, not willing to comment on Kharge's statement, referring to the CM with regard to the bitcoin scam, state Congress chief D K Shivakumar said that as the president, he has already made the party's stand known and demanded that the government arrest the guilty and make the facts of the case public.
"Let the government say what investigation has been done, what has been seized...it (bitcoins) are in whose wallets, whose names have come out, who wrote to the PM, how many FIRs have been filed and what has been revealed so far," he said, adding that there are a lot of speculations without any names coming out.
"Let' see. We too are collecting information, but it is for the government to investigate first, then we will place all that we know before the people. The Home Minister has spoken about the Congress leader's son. If they have guts, let them arrest, why are they waiting?" he asked.