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Gujarat MLAs Not Searched, Target Was Only Karnataka Minister: Jaitley to Congress

Arun Jaitley told the Congress to not link the I-T raids with the Rajya Sabha election and said whether it is abuse of agencies can only be judged after the recovery.

Updated:August 2, 2017, 2:15 PM IST
Gujarat MLAs Not Searched, Target Was Only Karnataka Minister: Jaitley to Congress
Arun Jaitley spoke in both Houses of Parliament after Congress termed the raids a witch-hunt.
New Delhi: Finance minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday told the Congress not to link the Income Tax raid on Karnataka minister DK Shivakumar with the Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat as protesting Opposition members disrupted proceedings in the Parliament.

Jaitley, who spoke on the issue in both Houses of Parliament, said that no search operation was conducted at the resort in Karnataka where Gujarat Congress MLAs have been staying.

Only the minister, who had “gone and parked himself” at the resort, was picked up from there for questioning, he said as Congress members vociferously raised the issue in both the Houses. They forced three adjournments of the Rajya Sabha and staged a walkout from the Lok Sabha.

Responding to Congress’ allegations that BJP was using investigating agencies like CBI, ED and I-T for their own gain, Jaitley said “whether it is a use or abuse, it depends on recovery”. He said that raids are being carried out at 39 places and not at the resort, and the searches "should not be linked to the Rajya Sabha election in Gujarat."

Congress, however, said that the raids are an attempt to "derail and hijack" the elections and were "targeted". “Since morning, they (ED and IT) have started the raids," Congress leader Anand Sharma said, questioning the timing and place of the raids.

Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said the elections to the Rajya Sabha should be held without fear in a free and fair manner. "But in this election (in Gujarat) all these three things are not happening," he said and alleged that Congress MLAs were being "kidnapped". "This is against democracy," he said.

Azad also asked why the raids on the minister was "taking place today and not a month later or before."

Responding to them, Jaitley said the 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,” he said.

"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.

Jaitley also said the resort was not an area where the Karnataka minister can get "immunity from the law". Dissatisfied with Jaitley's remarks, Congress members trooped into the well of Rajya Sabha and started shouting slogans.

In the Lok Sabha, senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge raised the issue, and termed the raids as "a political vendetta and witch-hunting".

“I appeal to the government, not to terrorise and threaten the MLAs. You will also have to face this tomorrow... If there is any offence, then action should be taken, even if it involves me. You are resorting to this to defeat one person (Ahmed Patel) in the Rajya Sabha polls," Kharge said. Patel is the Congress candidate for the polls in Gujarat.

Terming Kharge's allegations as "baseless", Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said the raids were part of action against black money and corruption.

Kumar, who also belongs to Karnataka, said the state government had decided to slap a penalty of Rs 942 crore on the resort. At the same time, the Gujarat MLAs are lodged there, he said.

"Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Ahmed Patel should explain this. They should come out clean on this matter," Kumar said. Both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul were present in the House earlier. Kharge later led a walkout of the Congress members from the Lok Sabha.

(With PTI inputs)

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