BANGALORE: There’s a fresh row between the Congress and BJP, this time over Income Tax raids in Karnataka. The BJP has accused the Centre of misusing the I-T department after officials conducted raids today at around 60 places in Karnataka.
I-T officials conducted raids at the residences and offices of three BJP MLAs, including that of Health Minister B Sriramulu, in Bangalore and Bellary, official sources said.
I-T sleuths also swooped down on two BJP MLAs from Bellary district, Nagendra and Suresh Babu, in Bangalore.
Also, three houses belonging to the advocate and trusted lieutenant of the powerful Reddy brothers, Raghavacharyulu, were searched. B Sriramulu too is close to the Reddy brothers. The Personal Assistants (PAs) of the Reddys are among those whose residences have been searched.
Sources say the houses of Tourism Minister Janardhana Reddy and Revenue Minister Karunakara Reddy were also raided.
The raids began on Monday morning at the homes of the MLAs next to the Vidhan Soudha. This is a building that houses MLAs when the Karnataka Assembly is in Session.
The searches come at a time when the ruling BJP is facing allegations of horse-trading over what is being called “operation Kamal” to allegedly woo Opposition MLAs. The Opposition has accused the BJP of poaching its MLAs by offering crores of rupees.
The JD(S) in fact released a video allegedly showing its legislator being bribed by a BJP MLA with more than Rs. 15 crore.
“An attempt was being made to make the BJP government fall. They even tried to bribe MLAs, they even got JD(S) and Congress MLAs who got the Governor on their side to vote against the government. All these attempts were unsuccessful. Now they have started on this route, we understand this to be just one more political game of Congress. It is clearly their frustration that they have not been able to win even one by-election this year,” said Nirmala Sitharaman, spokesperson, BJP.
In the last couple of weeks the BS Yeddyurappa government was brought on the brink of political crisis and he was forced to seek majority on the floor of the House twice in four days.
The Yeddyurappa government was reduced to minority when 16 MLAs (11 BJP MLAs and 5 Independent MLAs) withdrew support from the government. Yeddyurappa managed to sail through after these rebel MLAs were disqualified by the Speaker. The disqualified MLAs moved court and the decision is still awaited.
The question is where is this money coming from? All fingers are pointing to the all-powerful mining lobby as one of the factors that could be driving these income tax raids.
Incidentally, the MLAs raided today are part of the Reddy faction which has fallen out with the Chief Minister.
However, the BJP accuses the Congress of engineering the raids Income Tax being a Central government department.
“It is not fair. The Congress tried to destabilise Karnataka government but failed. It’s now the Centre’s hand,” said R Ashok, Karnataka Home Minister.
“We do not know about Income Tax raids and all those things. I can only say if he is honest, why is he afraid of the raids?” Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah said.
While details of cash and assets seized are yet to emerge, it is not certain if the raids will indeed clean up Karnataka’s politics.
Read full article: NDTV