Bengaluru: The income-tax (I-T) department on Tuesday carried out raids in Hassan, Mandya and Bengaluru in Karnataka, drawing sharp criticism from political parties who accused the central government of using its agencies to intimidate them with Lok Sabha elections under way.

A total of seven premises were raided on Tuesday.

“The searches being conducted today are based on credible intelligence that certain businessmen have earned income not disclosed to tax and are in possession of undisclosed assets," the I-T department said in a statement. It added that those raided were involved in real estate, quarrying, stone crushing, government contracts, petrol stations and saw mill operators and managers of cooperative banks.

“These sectors are prone to generation of black money," the statement said.

The ruling Janata Dal (Secular) and Congress criticized the raids as politically motivated.

Former Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah said he was not against raids to unearth black money but against those that were politically motivated. “Why have you chosen election time to conduct raids?" he asked.

The opposition has alleged that the I-T department and select officials were working as “puppets" in the hands of Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led central government to harass workers and supporters of other parties.

Speaking to reporters in Mysuru district, Siddaramaiah asked why there were no raids on Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders against whom the Congress had filed complaints.

The JD(S) believes that the BJP is targeting the family of former PM H.D. Deve Gowda, Nikhil Kumaraswamy and Prajwal Revanna. Both grandsons of Deve Gowda are making their electoral debut from Mandya and Hassan respectively. The JD(S) believes the raids are targeted at these two campaigns, as well as its local leadership.

“Let them raid Yeddyurappa, Ashok, Eshwarappa, Jagadish Shettar and Shobha Karandlaje’s houses as well. Why is that you can only see JD(S) and Congress leaders?" Siddaramaiah asked.

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