Bengaluru: Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy has accused the central government of using officers of the Income Tax Department to plan more “revenge raids” on politicians of the ruling Janata Dal (Secular)-Congress coalition in the state.
Speaking hours after a JD(S) leader was arrested for defaulting on taxes, Kumaraswamy said close to 250-300 officers have been brought in from other states and it seems to be a move to carry out coordinated raids on many politicians.
If such “excesses” continue, he would be forced to treat these officers just as West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee did last month. The West Bengal Police had arrested CBI officers for trespassing when they had gone to Kolkata to question the police chief in an alleged chit fund scam case. Banerjee also sat on a dharna against the Modi government.
By apprehending the politician, who sources say is JD(S) leader Prabhakar Reddy, the IT Department made its third arrest in a month. The department said it had arrested a taxpayer who had contested the Vidhana Sabha elections in the state on two occasions and the Parliamentary elections once on the ticket of a prominent political party. He was arrested after defaulting on paying taxes to the tune of Rs 5.4 crore.
Responding to the raids, Kumaraswamy tweeted, “Hon'ble PM @NarendraModi is misusing the Income Tax Dept to threaten the political leaders of Karnataka from JDS and Congress during election time. They have planned to conduct IT raids on our important leaders. This is nothing but revenge politics. We will not be cowed down by this.”
Hon'ble PM @NarendraModi is misusing the IncomeTax Dept to threaten the political leaders of Karnataka from JDS and Congress during election timeThey have planned to conduct IT raids on our important leaders.This is nothing but revenge politics.We will not be cowed down by this— H D Kumaraswamy (@hd_kumaraswamy) March 27, 2019
The IT Department in February had arrested two tax defaulters, one of them a businessman from Tumkur, for not paying taxes to the tune of Rs 7.35 crore and Rs 11.94 crore.
The Congress in Karnataka has claimed that the BJP is misusing independent organisations against non-BJP governments.
“Are CBI, IT and ED the weapons of elections against non-BJP governments? Narendra Modi has misused these independent organisations to the maximum. People of Karnataka will teach a fit lesson to his misadventures against the leaders of the coalition government,” the Congress tweeted.
Earlier this month, the department found that a person identified as Narayana Gowda B Patil was collecting cash from several contractors to pay politicians in order to meet the expenses of the upcoming elections. Patil, an executive engineer of rural development from Haveri, was staying in a hotel in Bengaluru.
When the two hotel rooms were searched, authorities found more than Rs 1.50 crore in cash as well as sheets of paper showing payments by various contractors at 5% of the contract value.
Patil’s driver, who was present when the rooms were searched, disclosed that he and Patil would collect the money. Patil is currently absconding.
The Income Tax Department is keeping a close watch on other contractors and engineers, suspecting more such election funding through public funds.