The first day of Navaratri seems to have taken an inauspicious turn for former Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa and his family. Income Tax officials arrived at the houses and offices of several contractors close him on Thursday morning to unearth allegedly undisclosed wealth of Umesh, who was his personal assistant (PA) while in office.
According to I-T officials, the raid is being conducted at 10 locations, including Umesh’s residence in the city.
Umesh, who was previously a bus conductor, entered the political circle when he came in contact with Shimoga BJP leader Ayanur Manjunath and became his personal assistant. He later joined Yediyurappa’s son and Shimoga MP BY Raghavendra as his assistant. During Yediyurappa’s recent term, Umesh served as PA at the chief minister’s office. He is also reportedly close to Yediyurappa’s other son, BY Vijayendra.
According to sources, Umesh handled irrigation contracts and was close to big contractors based in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. He allegedly ‘fixed’ major contracts worth hundreds of crores in return for a cut.
I-T officials said the raids focus on his alleged involvement in ‘fixing’ contracts in Cauvery Irrigation Corporation and Krishna Irrigation Corporation, two state-owned mega subsidiaries in charge of irrigation projects. At least 10 Hyderabad-based contractors with whom Umesh had business links are under the radar, insiders told News18.
Political circles in Karnataka are abuzz with rumours that the raids are meant to send a message to Yediyurappa’s family who have been demanding a bigger role in the party and government after the leader’s “forced” departure in the last week of July. I-T officials, however, dismissed the rumours, saying it was a “routine raid”.
The BJP high command had refused to make Yediyurappa’s younger son Vijayendra a minister in the Basavaraj Bommai cabinet. His name was added to the list of assembly bypoll in-charges after his supporters complained of his exclusion on social media. Two Assembly seats in Karnataka — Hangal and Sindgi — will vote in bypolls on October 30.
Yediyurappa’s family is yet to react to the I-T raids on their loyalist. The opposition Congress has demanded a thorough inquiry into all irrigation contracts awarded during Yediyurappa’s regime.