Karnataka on Thursday was the centre of a political storm following “selective” statewide I-T raids on JD(S) and Congress supporters two weeks ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
Dubbing the raids as politically motivated and condemning the “dictatorial attitude” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy lashed out at the BJP at the Centre for its “deplorable” use of government machinery.
“PM @narendramodi’s real surgical strike is out in the open through IT dept raids. The constitutional post offer for IT officer Balakrishna helped the PM in his revenge game. Highly deplorable to use govt machinery, corrupt officials to harass opponents during election time,” he tweeted before he took to the streets with his alliance partners to register his protest.
The pre-dawn raids on Minor Irrigation Minister C S Puttaraju and his aides, and on businessmen close to PWD Minister H D Revanna, among others, came less than 24 hours after Kumaraswamy predicted the “orchestrated raids” from the national capital.
Kumaraswamy, who had threatened to resort to “Mamata Banerjee tactics” against any such move by the Centre, led a protest towards the Income-Tax office on Queen’s Road. Flanked by his deputy, G Parameshwara, Coordination Committee chairman of the coalition government Siddaramaiah and Medical Education Minister D K Shivakumar, he launched a tirade against Modi and BJP president Amit Shah. “They are out to frighten us. But the fact is the BJP is shaken and wants to win the elections by intimidating us. We won’t be cowed down by the scare tactics,” said an irate chief minister.
Principal Chief Commissioner of Income Tax B R Balakrishnan particularly came under fire from the coalition leaders.
Kumaraswamy, who had earlier termed the I-T officer as a “BJP agent”, accused Balakrishnan of having an internal agreement with the BJP high command for the governorship of a state after his retirement in three months.
He questioned why the I-T department had failed to act against BJP leaders.
Siddaramaiah termed the BJP as the “most cowardly party in the world”. “IT raids on opposition leaders is nothing but an attempt to intimidate and demoralise supporters during the election,” he tweeted.
The BJP leaders, however, played down the searches.
Arvind Limbavali, BJP general secretary, accused Kumaraswamy of violating the “oath of secrecy” by revealing details of the possible I-T raids.
Who was raided?
Searches on five businessmen associated with the coalition partners were launched at around 10 pm on Wednesday in Jayanagar, Padmanabhanagar and other areas. Later, surveys were carried out a JD(S) MLC B M Farooq’s properties in Bengaluru.
Also, I-T officials raided Puttaraju’s ancestral home at Chinakurali, Pandavapura district, Mandya and his confidants, and aides of Revanna. The raids were carried out in Channarayapatna, Shravanabelagola, Hassan, Arkalgud and other areas. Searches were also carried out on an entrepreneur in Shivamogga, said to be a relative of H D Deve Gowda.
PWD offices in Hassan, District Central Cooperative Bank and others too were searched. Raids were also carried out at Kanakapura taluk panchayat office.