In the last six months, nearly 15 searches by the I-T department were conducted against Opposition leaders and associates.
Searches conducted by the Income tax department at the residence of DMK leader Kanimozhi on Tuesday has evoked sharp reactions from the opposition parties. The raids, conducted by Income Tax personnel in Tuticorin in south Tamil Nadu sparked a political row with the opposition pointing to a conspiracy to only target the opposition through such actions.
While the searches were reportedly attributed to “some inputs,” the outcome was nothing, a report by The Indian Express said.
Kanimozhi spoke to the media after the raids and alleged a witch-hunt as authorities turned a blind eye to the BJP candidates. “After an hour long search, they left my place having found nothing. As my party chief M K Stalin said, we suspect that Tamilisai (Kanimozhi’s rival candidate and BJP state president) has crores of money at her home. We have seen videos of AIADMK leaders bribing voters in Theni. Will you go and search them?” Kanimozhi told reporters after the raid.
“BJP cannot prevent my success through this income tax raid. The raid is anti-democratic, deliberately planned and tested, and no document has been seized,” Kanimozhi said to news agency ANI after the raids.
Terming it as “a murder of democracy,” DMK president M K Stalin in Chennai said the searches were a result of “fear of a damning defeat,” for BJP’s Tuticorin candidate Tamilisai Soundararajan.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala hit out at the BJP over the I-T raids and alleged that the department was acting as a tool for the government to target opposition leaders. “Hounding Opposition leaders through motivated IT Raids is the only tool left with Modiji! BJP has four allies- PM Modi, Sh Shah,ED & IT to fight these elections! People of India are seeing through this,they will give a befitting reply to BJP on May 23!”
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu also hit out at the Centre over the I-T raids, accusing the Modi government that the raids were only targeted against those who were opposed to the BJP.
Police firing at AMMK workers after they held EC officials captive
In another incident, an EC flying squad which attempted to check cash distribution by TTV Dhinakaran’s AMMK, were held captive by party workers in Theni which led to police firing four rounds in the air to rescue the officials.
At least four persons taken into custody and more than Rs 30 lakh in cash seized, News18 reported.
Vellore Lok sabha polls rescinded
In Vellore, following the confiscation of money, President Ram Nath Kovind on Tuesday revoked the election to the Lok Sabha seat based on the Election Commission recommendations. A report was submitted on the use of money to influence voters in the polls. The I-T Department had seized Rs 11.48 crore from the house of an alleged associate of DMK treasurer Duraimurugan, whose son Kathir Anand is the party candidate for Vellore.
Raids by the Election Commission so far
In the last six months, nearly 15 searches by the I-T department were conducted against Opposition leaders and associates — three in Tamil Nadu, five in Karnataka, two in Andhra Pradesh, two in Delhi and one each in MP, UP, and J&K the Indian Express had said in a report last week.
In the same period, it was reported that raids were held at premises linked to one BJP functionary in Uttarakhand, however, the party later distanced itself from the person.
The Election Commission drew sharp criticism from the opposition for not intervening despite tax officials largely focussing on Opposition leaders. In the previous week, the Express publication reports that the poll body had reiterated its earlier advice to the Revenue Secretary and the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) in a meet to maintain neutrality, apart from keeping the EC informed in cases related to suspected use of illicit money for elections.
Puducherry and Tamil Nadu Lok Sabha election dates
People will vote for 38 Lok Sabha constituencies and in bypolls to 39Assembly seats in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry on April 18