The Income Tax Department on Wednesday conducted raids and searches against Karnataka Energy minister DK Shivakumar, who was hosting 44 Congress MLAs from Gujarat at a resort near Bengaluru.
The raids in Delhi and Bengaluru were in connection with a tax evasion probe case against Shivakumar. Officials said Rs 7.5 crore cash was recovered from the search of the properties of the minister, who has been now been taken to his house in Bengaluru from the resort by the IT team.
Officials privy to the early morning raids said a team of I-T sleuths reached the Eagleton resort in search of the minister. Eagleton resort, happens to be the same resort where 44 Gujarat MLAs were moved three days ago by the Congress party. MLAs were moved after the Gujarat Assembly was rocked by defections – 6 MLAs from the Congress quit and 3 of them joined the BJP, ahead of the August 8 Rajya Sabha polls.
“The resort is not being raided,” the I-T officials said.
They said only the minister’s room in the resort was “searched” and not of the MLAs from Gujarat.
“The search team has no concern with the MLAs and there has been no contact with MLAs and the search team,” the department said in a statement.
A total of 39 premises of the minister and his family were raised by a team of about 120 Income Tax Department officials with the aid of central paramilitary forces.
The department is also said to be investigating charges of alleged role of money power and huge transfer of illegal funds ahead of polls.
Six of the 57 Congress MLAs in Gujarat, from where senior party leader Ahmed Patel is contesting for the Rajya Sabha, resigned from the party in the last few days with three joining the BJP on Friday last ahead of the Rajya Sabha poll.
The party has apprehensions over Patel’s election prospects, if more MLAs defect.
Patel called raids “unprecedented witch-hunt” by the BJP to win one Rajya Sabha seat.
Patel, who is contesting the Rajya Sabha polls from Gujarat, said the I-T raids on the Congress minister, at whose guest house the Congress MLAs from Gujarat are staying, shows the utter desperation and frustration of BJP.
“After using the state machinery and every other agency, these I-T raids show their utter desperation and frustration,” Patel tweeted.
Patel, who is also Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary, is re-contesting the Rajya Sabha election from Gujarat.
BJP President Amit Shah and Union Minister Smriti Irani are also contesting besides Patel, for the three Rajya Sabha seats from Gujarat.
Earlier Congress accused the BJP of “stealing” it’s MLAs in Gujarat ahead of the polls and flew them to Bangalore to ensure their safety.
(With inputs from PTI)