Bengaluru, Aug 2: The Income Tax Department on Wednesday conducted raids at the resident of Karnataka Energy Minister DK Shivakumar and Eagleton Golf Resort in Bengaluru – where the Gujarat Congress MLAs are staying after the party alleged that the BJP is trying to poach them ahead of the Rajya Sabha poll next week. As per the latest reports, Rs 5 crore cash has been seized from Shivakumar’s Delhi residence.
The development comes a day after the Congress, rattled by the desertion of its six MLAs, accused the BJP of ‘stealing’ its MLAs. However, the party has claimed that its Gujarat Rajya Sabha candidate Ahmed Patel will still win the elections. Earlier, the party has shifted over 40 MLAs to Eagleton Golf Resort ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections scheduled to be held on August 8 as Patel will require 44 first preference votes for a straight win.
Noteworthy, the Congress had 57 MLAs in the 182-member Assembly out of which six have quit since Thursday, bringing down its strength to 51. (ALSO READ: Sixth Gujarat Congress MLA Resigns, Party Accuses BJP of Spending Crores on Horse-Trading)
According to news agency ANI, the I-T raids began at 7 AM on Wednesday morning. Meanwhile, the raids are underway at Karnataka Energy Minister’s residence in Kanakapura and Sadashivanagar along with the rooms of the Congress MLAs at the Eagleton Golf Resort. Shivakumar was in-charge of hospitality for Gujarat Congress MLAs in Bengaluru. However, officials privy to the early morning raids said a team of I-T sleuths have also reached the Eagleton resort near here to question the minister, who was staying at the resort for the night. “The resort is not being raided,” a PTI report quotes the officials as saying.
According to a CNN-News18 report, the I-T department has been quoted as saying that the raids are not being carried out in connection with the stay of the Congress MLAs at the Eagleton Golf Resort in Bengaluru. “It is a mere coincidence’, the officials reportedly said. Meanwhile, sources close to the media said that a total of 39 locations have been raided by the I-T department across Karnataka.
Asserting that the timing of the search was decided well in advance, I-T department said, “The events involving certain MLAs of another state being brought to Karnataka were unforeseen and unpredictable events.” (ALSO READ: BJP Threatened Us, Offered Rs 15 Crore to Switch Over, Alleges Gujarat Congress MLA Shaktisinh Gohil)
Reportedly, the Eagleton Resort is facing a demand to pay Rs 982 crore as penalty to regularise 77 acres of land encroached by it. On July 27, Karnataka Law Minister TB Jayachandra, following a Cabinet meeting, said, “The state cabinet has decided to ask Eagleton resort to either pay the penalty or surrender the land to the government.’’
Earlier on Sunday, speaking to reporters at the resort, Shivakumar had said that he is privileged to host the Gujarat Congress MLAs. “These (Gujarat) MLAs have come from the land of Mahatma Gandhi and the land of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.”
The Eagleton Golf Resort was started by Andhra Pradesh businessmen Meda Ashok Kumar in 2000. After his death in 2013, it is being run by his two sons Meda Kiran Kumar and Meda Chethan. The resort became a popular destination for top executives of Indian and foreign companies living in Bengaluru.