More importantly, the raids were on people who were monitoring the electioneering of the two belonging to the Gowda family, including state minor irrigation minister C S Puttaraju and his nephew Ashok, who is a district Panchayat member in Mysuru.
Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy said on Thursday that the income tax raid on JD(S) leaders overseeing the electioneering of his son Nikhil Kumaraswamy in Mandya and nephew Prajwal Revanna in Hassan was “politically motivated” and he would stage a demonstration against it in Bengaluru along with Congress leaders. “I am going to stage a demonstration in Bengaluru. Let the whole nation see how the income tax department is being misused. These raids are politically motivated,” a visibly upset Kumaraswamy told reporters in Mysuru.
The pre-dawn raids at 15 to 20 places triggered an angry backlash from Congress as well as JD(S) leaders. More importantly, the raids were on people who were monitoring the electioneering of the two belonging to the Gowda family, including state minor irrigation minister C S Puttaraju and his nephew Ashok, who is a district Panchayat member in Mysuru.
Nikhil Kumaraswamy and Prajwal Revanna are testing political waters for the first time under the tutelage of Kumaraswamy and PWD minister H D Revanna. Asserting that he had predicted the raids Wednesday night itself, Kumaraswamy said for the first time the I-T officials raided government offices too, such as PWD office in Hassan and Tahsildar office in Kanakapura.
Accusing the principal chief commissioner of income tax department (Karnataka-Goa region) B R Balakrishnan of acting as a “political agent”, the chief minister said he was eyeing on a gubernatorial position post retirement. “A BJP leader sends list of people to Amit Shah, who eventually forwards it to Balakrishnan to carry out raids. Balakrishnan is acting as an agent of BJP. It seems that he wants a post retirement position such as governor of some state,” he added.
Kumaraswamy questioned BJP state chief B S Yeddyurappa as to whether he could win elections without money. “Note counting machine was found during raids at BJP leaders’ houses. They are now teaching us about honesty. Did the I-T officials find note counting machine at Puttaraju’s house? They are out to frighten us but the fact is the BJP is shaken and wants to win election by intimidating us. We are not the ones who get scared,” said the chief minister.
The raids did not perturb Revanna. Speaking to reporters in Hassan, he said, “So long as I have the blessings of Sringeri Sharadamba and Shankaracharya, nothing will happen…Anybody conspiring against me or trying black magic will be destroyed. I am so well protected.” Former chief minister and Congress strongman Siddaramaiah said if the BJP thought that these intimidation tactics would win them the election, then they are wrong in their assumption.
Yeddyurappa rubbished the charges, saying the Income Tax department was doing its duty and it should not be linked with politics. Meanwhile, the income tax department in a press release in the wake of the chief minister’s statements to the press, said no MP, MLA or minister had been covered in the searches and they were being carried out on the basis of credible information received.
“Certain searches are being carried out by the income tax department in Karnataka Goa on contractors and connected persons. No MP, MLA or minister have so far been covered in the searches. These searches are being carried out on the basis of credible information received,” it said.
The searches were carried out on a wide range of professions and businesses including bureaucrats, breweries, MNCs, mining barons, diagnostic centres, trusts, educational institutions, medical colleges, real estate, fisheries, and film industry and including politically exposed persons, said the release. It also said these searches have resulted in collecting credible evidence on tax evasion. The searches on politically exposed persons have covered their entire range of the political spectrum.
The I-T department also said CRPF personnel being used for the searches had not been flown from outside the state. “While it is true that CRPF is being used for providing security, the said central armed police personnel were requisitioned from the State Police (ADGP Law and Order) following normal protocol and have not been flown in outside the state,” the release said.
The department also said its activities should not be politicised, personalised or trivialised. “We also request that the activities of the income tax department should not be politicised, personalised or trivialised. In particular statements which sound like an incitement to physical violence issued by persons holding very responsible posts are deeply deplorable,” it added.
The Income Tax department is committed to carrying out its functions in a professional and fearless manner. The Department will act on credible information regardless of political affiliations, the release said.