DKS, as Karnataka’s Energy Minister DK Shivakumar is known, became the latest to get caught by the Income Department. But why was his resort and premises raided?
Karnataka, especially Bengaluru, went into a tizzy from early Wednesday when Income Tax officials raided the Eagleton Golf Resort and other premises of Minister for Energy D K Shivakumar and seized wads of notes totalling over Rs 10 crore.
So, at the time of demonetisation, what was Rs 10 crore in cash doing at DKS’ resort? Obviously, the cash was meant for the Gujarat Congress MLAs for their loyalty before they vote for the Rajya Sabha elections where Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel’s victory is at stake.
In Karnataka, DKS is a sort of bully who is known for his wealth, arrogance bordering on feudalistic outlook, his real estate running into acres and a list of engineering colleges known to mint money.
Sources say that even Chief Minister Siddaramaiah holds DKS in awe and sees to it that he never rubs the energy minister the wrong way lest he gets politically electrocuted.
DKS had been put as incharge to look after 44 MLAs from Gujarat who have been lodged at his sprawling Eagleton Golf Resort on the outskirts of Bengaluru since Saturday so that they aren’t poached by the BJP ahead of the Gujarat Rajya Sabha poll.
According to an Association for Democratic Reforms report on crorepati ministers in 29 states and two Union territories, Shivakumar is listed as the second richest minister in the country with assets worth Rs 251 crore.
Soon after the raids, Congress goon went on a rampage in Bengaluru destroying public property. But ordinary folks were either not bothered or happy that DKS finally had been caught.
Leaders, starting from Chief Minister Siddaramiah, cried vendetta politics, but could not explain how DKS possessed Rs 10 crore in cash at his place.
Even Parliament went into a tailspin over the raids. Opposition leader in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad wondered why the raids were conducted today, not last month or the next month. But why not today? Azad had the answer in his question itself – today because DKS was the unofficial chief distributor of cash to keep the Gujarat MLAs happy and rich.
It was also a warning for the Gujarat MLAs – accept cash from your party at your risk.
But Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told Azad that the searches had nothing to do with Rajya Sabha elections in Gujarat. He said DKS was at the resort and not in his house and that the IT officials wanted him for questioning.
What was DKS doing early in the morning at the resort?
In a sharp reaction, Jaitley said properties of a “particular” minister of the Karnataka government was searched. “In that resort where your MLAs are staying, no search has taken place, no MLA has been searched. A particular individual was to be searched. He has gone and parked himself in that resort. “So the authorities, because they had to confront him with the recovery, they had gone to get him to his residence so that he could be adequately questioned by the authorities,” the Finance Minister said, adding that the minister has been taken to his residence from the resort.
The Finance Minister also added that the resort was not a place where the Karnataka minister can get immunity from the law.
To the Congress charges that the raids were an abuse of power, Jaitley said “whether it is a use or abuse, it depends of recovery”.
Jaitley maintained that the IT searches were being conducted at 39 other places, but “not at this resort”, adding that these “should not be linked to the Rajya Sabha election in Gujarat.”
Congress MLA from Gujarat Shaktisinh Gohil triggered a social media storm by posting a video showing armed CRPF men roaming inside the compound. He later told reporters outside the gates of the resort: “Gunmen were roaming around inside the hotel as if our MLAs are criminals. This is politics at its worst.”
A rattled Gohil said “We are even afraid to say how we will reach Gujarat on August 8, it is scary to share the details. No matter what happens to us, we will save democracy.”
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah called the raids an attempt to threaten him for supporting Congress MLAs from Gujarat. “This is being done to threaten the Karnataka energy minister for supporting Gujarat MLAs. The CRPF has been brought in violation of all rules. They should have taken the assistance of the state police,” he added.
But then, Siddaramaiah has been of late shunting out all honest officers in clear violation of the rule books.
The centre of action – the Eagleton Golf Resort – is a world-class golf resort where politics is also occasionally played. In 2006-07, the JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy, in whose Ramanagara district the resort falls, had whisked away some of his party’s MLAs at the resort, following a move by a group to align with the BJP after breaking away from a Congress-JD(S) coalition.
The resort also shot to news recently when the State government demanded Rs 982 crore as penalty to regularise 77 acres of land encroached by it. The demand was made last week just before the Congress MLAs checked in.