Bengaluru: The income tax (I-T) department conducted raids on Wednesday at the residence of Karnataka energy minister D.K. Shivakumar and his brother D.K. Suresh, a Lok Sabha member of Parliament.
The raids on the Congress minister by the I-T department came days after the two brothers undertook the responsibility to host at least 40 MLAs from Gujarat who have been residing in a posh resort outside Bengaluru ahead of the Rajya Sabha re-elections in their state.
Members of the I-T department also raided the resort outside Bengaluru among other places linked to the minister, inviting sharp criticism from political quarters leading to the Congress party walking out of the ongoing monsoon session in Parliament. About Rs10 crore cash was recovered from the raids, PTI reported. This information could not be independently verified.
“Yes, the I-T department conducted raids on my brother (Shivakumar) house, offices and my home as well," said Suresh.
The I-T department, in a statement on Wednesday, said that the raids were part of an investigation over a considerable period of time.
“The timing of the search was decided well in advance. The events involving certain MLAs of another state being brought to Karnataka were unforeseen and unpredictable events," the I-T department said in its statement on Wednesday.
The statement added that the minister being probed was staying at a resort where “some MLAs from another state are put up". The department clarified that only the minister’s room was being searched.
The raids, however, has kicked up a political storm with the Congress leadership blasting the Narendra Modi-led government of misusing state machinery to intimidate opposition parties.
“Using I-T department as a weapon of political vendetta is not only a blatant misuse of power, but also against principles of democracy and cooperative federalism," Karnataka chief minister K. Siddaramaiah said in a statement. He also raised questions on the I-T department for using central paramilitary forces to assist in the raids.
“The Congress-run government in Karnataka will neither budge to such political blackmail nor stoop to vindictive politics," the CM said.
The Gujarat Rajya Sabha polls is critical for the party as it includes re-election of Ahmed Patel, senior party leader and close aide of party president Sonia Gandhi. The election will be held on 8 August.
“After using the state machinery and every other agency, these I-T raids show their utter desperation and frustration. BJP is on an unprecedented witch-hunt just to win one Rajya Sabha seat," Patel said on microblogging site, Twitter.
Meanwhile, the I-T raids in Karnataka also resonated in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha where Congress party alleged that the Union government was resorting to strong arm tactics to intimidate the Congress minister and MLAs. In the Lok Sabha, the Congress members staged a walkout while the upper house saw four adjournments.
According to a news report by PTI, the Election Commission (EC) late on Wednesday sought a “factual report" from the finance secretary on allegations by the Congress party that its MLAs from Gujarat were intimidated by central forces at a Karnataka resort during the I-T raid.
Quoting a senior EC functionary who requested anonymity, the report said that the finance secretary has been asked to send the factual report by Friday evening
PTI and Gyan Varma from New Delhi contributed to this story.