IT raids were conducted on officials and supporters associated with the JDS in Hassan, Mysuru and Mandya.
Bengaluru: Trying to do a Mamata Banerjee, Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy today marched along with leaders of the JD(S) and coalition partner, the Congress, to the Income Tax office on Queens Road in the heart of Bengaluru and held a sit-in to protest against the massive IT raids that took place from early this morning.
He was joined by senior leaders including Deputy Chief Minister G Prameshwara, KPCC chief Dinesh Gundu Rao and Irrigation Minister DK Sivakumar.
The income tax department cherry-picked its targets — a close relative of Minor Irrigation Minister CS Puttaraju who is looking after Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil’s election campaign in Mandya and top engineers and officials of the PWD in Hassan. PWD portfolio is held by Kumarswamy’s brother HD Revanna whose son Prajwal is standing for Lok Sabha seat of Hassan. Raids were also conducted in Mandya and Mysuru – the stronghold of the JD(S).
It is a known fact that Revanna demanded the PWD portfolio during government formation in Karnataka and subsequently appointed his trusted officers to mint money for his son Prajwal’s election campaign and the JD(S).
Puttaraju is also the ‘money-minting machine’ of the JD(S) making full use of the portfolio under him.
However, the income tax department denied that minister Puttaraju’s residence was raided. It was Puttaraju’s nephew’s house that was searched. But the fact remained that only officials, businessmen, mining barons and film personalities closely connected with the JD(S) were raided.
In a statement, the IT department said: “The attention of the income tax department has been drawn to certain statements made by the Honourable Chief Minister of Karnataka. Certain searches are being carried out by the income tax department in Karnataka and Goa on contractors and connected persons. No MP, MLA or minister have so far been covered in the searches.”
On Kumaraswamy’s charge that security personnel were flown in from other states, the IT department said: “While it is true that CRPF is being used for providing security, the said Central armed personnel were requisitioned from the State Police (ADGP Law and Order) following normal protocol and have not been flown in outside the state,” it said, adding the activities of the income tax department should not be “politicised, personalised or trivialised”.
The tax raids came less than 24 hours after Kumaraswamy predicted a massive swoop on his supporters and had warned that he would use “Mamata Banerjee’s tactics” against any move by the centre to use the government’s organs for political vendetta in election season. But he lacked the flair and gusto of Mamata Banerjee who brought Kolkata to a standstill when the CBI sleuths had come to question the city police chief.
The selective targets made the Chief Minister fume saying the IT raids were “Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s real surgical strike”.
The BJP used the raids to take a swipe at the coalition.
In a tweet, the party said: The intrinsic character of #Mahaghatbandhan – divided on politics & ideology and united in corruption – has come to the fore in front of IT office. At last the Congress and JDS have come together in the real and true sense of the word. #CongressJDSChorhai
In reply, the Congress tweeted: “This is the first time in the history of India that a Prime Minister has misused autonomous institutions with such flagrant disregard. The people will teach him a lesson.”
Karnataka is one of the top states where money is freely flowing ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.