The BJP launched a fresh attack against Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Sunday and questioned his links with Vijay Eswaran, a businessman accused of financial fraud.
Addressing the media, BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra revealed a photograph that showed Siddaramaiah shaking hands with Eswaran, and alleged that Siddaramaiah is helping him since he had been declared an absconder by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office in 2009.
Sambit's accusation came after a Mumbai-based whistleblower, Gurpreet Singh, alleged that Siddaramaiah was shielding Eswaran.
Gurpreet referred to a September 2013 report of the Karnataka Department of Information and Public Relations, which showed that Siddaramaiah had met Eswaran in China during the World Economic Forum.
However, CM Siddaramaiah rejected the charge and said that he met many people at the forum and does not remember Eswaran in particular.
"I don't know. I met so many people in Global Investors Meet. I don't know who have all come with me, who are they," he told NDTV.
He further said that it was the responsibility of the central government to investigate Eswaran.
"Who has to catch hold of him and investigate if there is any case? If there is any case, who has to do it against him? It is the Government of India. I do not know who that Eswaran is," he said.
He also questioned the timing of the BJP's expose and further pointed out that the same logic could apply to Prime Minister Modi for his photograph with absconding businessman Nirav Modi in Davos.
â€” Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) May 7, 2018
He also rejected suggestions that Eswaran gifted him an expensive watch. "It is totally false. Outright I reject it," he said.
Vijay Eswaran is a Malaysian businessman who co-founded founded Kuala Lumpur-based QI Group in 1998. He is currently the Executive Chairman of the firm.
However, Eswaran has been mired in a number of controversies and has been accused of duping several people in Ponzi schemes.