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As Raids on Karnataka Congress Leaders Continue, Siddaramaiah Drags I-T Dept Into Poll Debate

The ruling Congress has accused the BJP-led Centre of using the Income Tax department to “harass” its leaders ahead of voting in Assembly elections on May 12, bringing the tax department into the state’s poll narrative for the first time.

D P Satish | News18dp_satish

Updated:May 2, 2018, 1:30 PM IST
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As Raids on Karnataka Congress Leaders Continue, Siddaramaiah Drags I-T Dept Into Poll Debate
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has termed these raids as “vendetta” by the BJP. (Photo tweeted by @siddaramaiah)
Bengaluru: The residence of Congress leader Bhimanna Naik, the party’s candidate from Sirsi-Siddapura constituency, was raided by Income Tax officials early on Wednesday, making him the latest party leader to be visited by taxmen.

The ruling Congress has accused the BJP-led Centre of using the Income Tax department to “harass” its leaders ahead of voting in Assembly elections on May 12, bringing the tax department into the state’s poll narrative for the first time.

The taxmen have in the past raided the residence and other properties of KPCC Campaign Committee chairman and Power Minister DK Shivakumar, triggering condemnation by the Congress. Shivakumar has also been charged by the Enforcement Directorate.

Since then, there have been several raids on the close aides of PWD Minister HC Mahadevappa, BDA Minister KJ George, MLA MTB Nagaraj, powerful father-son MLA duo of Shamanur Shivashankarappa and SS Mallikarjuna, and many others.

A week ago, the I-T Department raided a few PWD contractors and recovered close to Rs 7 crore in cash. Those who were raided are believed to be close to the Congress. The I-T Department had issued a press release, blaming hoarding of cash by those raided for the recent cash crunch at ATMs.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has termed these raids as “vendetta” by the BJP. Speaking to News18, he said that raids on Congress leaders close to the polling day had raised several “doubts over the intention” of the I-T Department.

"We have nothing against I-T raids. They are free to raid the people with disproportionate income. But they are raiding only the Congressmen. Their selective approach proves that they are after only us. Why don't they raid the BJP leaders? Are all BJP people ‘sathya Harishchandras’?" asked Siddaramaiah.

I-T officials had recently raided the house of Cheluvaraya Swamy, the Congress candidate from Nagamangala in Mandya district. His supporters blamed the JD(S) for the raid as he had recently defected to the Congress from the party.

JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda’s defence of the recent I-T raids as “routine” has invited criticism from the Congress, with CM Siddaramaiah calling the JD(S) the ‘B’ team of the BJP.

AICC general secretary KC Venugopal has also questioned "selective" raids on the Congress leaders. Recently, KPCC president Dr G Parameshwara had asked party cadre to lay siege to the Income Tax Office in Bengaluru in protest against what he called the “brazen, shameless abuse” of I-T Department by the Centre.

Later, the I-T department issued a rebuttal to the Congress' allegations.

"More I-T raids are expected closer to voting day. The BJP can't terrorise like this," said a party MLA.

The BJP has repeatedly dismissed these allegations, terming the raids as routine and independent of any party interference.

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| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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