Gujarat Congress chief Bharatsinh Solanki today said the BJP government was misusing its powers and agencies such as the Income Tax Department, Enforcement Directorate and the CBI to intimidate the opposition. Reacting to the searches carried out by the IT Department at properties linked to Karnataka minister D K Shivakumar, who is overseeing the stay of 44 Gujarat Congress MLAs at a resort near Bengaluru, Solanki said the BJP was trying to create an “atmosphere of fear” in the opposition camp. “First they tried to break the Congress ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat. When our MLAs decided to go to Karnataka to escape the pressure and threats from the ruling party, they are threatening them by conducting raids using agencies like the Income Tax Department,” he said. “The government is misusing its power by using Central agencies to conduct raids to create atmosphere of fear and pressure in the opposition camp,” Solanki said. He expressed confidence that senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel, who is contesting the Rajya Sabha election from Gujarat, will win.
The victory of Union minister and BJP leader Smriti Irani, who is also contesting the election, is in doubt, Solanki claimed. “Chief Minister Vijay Rupani recently said he is not concerned about Balwantsinh Rajput (Congress MLA who recently joined BJP and was made the ruling party’s third Rajya Sabha candidate from Gujarat) losing. BJP’s main worry is that Irani could lose. Ahmed Patel will surely win,” Solanki said. The None of the Above (NOTA) option for Rajya Sabha polls may spell trouble for the BJP, he said.
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Congress legislators are camping at the resort near Bengaluru since Saturday. The party flew them there to fend off alleged poaching attempts by the BJP ahead of the August 8 Rajya Sabha election. Six of the 57 Congress MLAs in Gujarat have resigned from the party in the last few days, with three joining the BJP. The IT Department today conducted searches at 64 locations and properties linked to Karnataka Energy Minister D K Shivakumar in connection with a tax evasion case.
I-T officials said about Rs 10 crore cash has been recovered during the raids at various properties linked to the minister, who was taken to his house in Bengaluru from the resort by the taxman early today.