Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy on Saturday sought the Election Commission’s intervention to stop the Income Tax department raids on contractors and businessmen allegedly associated with the ruling JD-S and Congress.
“As IT officials continue to raid those associated with our allies, I appeal to the poll panel to direct the tax department to stop the searches being carried under pressure from the Modi government,” Kumaraswamy said in a letter to the Chief Electoral Officer in Bengaluru.
Protesting against those identifying with the JD-S and Congress since Thursday, Kumaraswamy staged a demonstration at the IT department office in the city along with Congress leaders, including Deputy Chief Minister G. Parameshwara, its legislative party leader Siddaramaiah and Congress state unit President Dinesh Gundu Rao and hundreds of supporters.
“The IT officials continued their raids on Friday and Saturday. They raided rice and sugar mills of Congress and JD-S workers at Mandya and Mysore till 4 a.m. today (Saturday) and have put spy cameras in their premises. Disguising themselves as railway officials, they borrowed vehicles and are staying at the state-run CFTRI at Mysuru.”
The Chief Minister called the raids a “shameful attempt to threaten the ruling allies and create fear among their cadres” and urged the panel to prevent harassment.
“The raids continued on Friday on 68 locations in the state, including Hassan and Mandya, where we are contesting in the first phase of polling on April 18,” tweeted Kumaraswamy in Kannada.
Premises of 13 contractors, officials of the state Public Works Department and businessmen were raided in Bengaluru, Chikmagalur, Hassan, Mandya and Shivamoga in Malnad region in the state’s southwest area.
Income Tax’s investing wing Director General B.R. Balakrishnan on Thursday refuted the Chief Minister’s charge and clarified in a statement that the raids were conducted on credible evidence of tax evasion.
“No MP, MLA or Minister have so far been covered in the searches, which are carried on contractors and connected persons in the state,” said Balakrishnan.
Terming the raids as Modi’s “real surgical strike” in the open, Kumaraswamy alleged the offer of a constitutional post to Balakrishnan helped the Prime Minister in his revenge game.
“Highly deplorable to use the government machinery and corrupt officials to harass opponents during election time,” tweeted Kumaraswamy.
Balakrishnan said: “The activities of the tax department should not be politicized, personalized or trivilized. In particular, statements which sound like an incitement to violence issued by persons holding responsible posts are deplorable.”
Polling for 28 Lok Sabha seats across the state will be held in two phases on April 18 and April 23.