I-T Raids KTK Rural Dept Engineer, Seizes Rs 1.5 Crore; BJP Seeks Minister's Resignation
Bengaluru: Income tax sleuths on Friday seized unaccounted cash of Rs 1.5 crore from a lodge here in which a rural development department engineer was staying, sparking demands from the BJP for minister Krishna Byre Gowda's resignation.
Rural development and panchayat raj (RDPR) minister Byre Gowda has denied any involvement in the matter.
Acting on a tip, IT officials raided the lodge at Anand Rao circle where the executive engineer from Haveri and his driver were staying, officials said.
While the engineer is at large, the driver, who was apprehended, admitted that both of them were engaged in collecting money from contractors at the rate of five per cent of each contract value, they said.
Besides cash, many documents were also found, officials added.
Following the seizure, the BJP alleged that extortion was done on behalf of their political masters to fund the coming Lok Sabha elections.
Since the engineer belonged to the rural development and panchayat raj (RDPR) department, the BJP demanded that Congress leader and RDPR minister Krishna Byre Gowda step down on moral grounds.
Asked for his reaction, Byre Gowda said "Let the I-T department conduct an inquiry and facts will be known. Fact of the matter is all these are baseless and concocted connections are being made."
"In this election season, the BJP is obviously making wild connections. What is the connection between me and the raids? Many raids happen everyday," he told PTI.
The minister said when the I-T officials conducted raids, a private individual, who was not related to government, was found in the room with cash. He has apparently, given the name of an official and that official is not even an engineer, Gowda added.
Lashing out the JDS-Congress coalition government, BJP state president BS Yeddyurappa told reporters, "It is now proved that this is a 20 per cent commission government.The 6.5 crore people of the state are waiting what Siddaramaiah and chief minister H D Kumaraswamy have to say on this.
When you come across such scams, it gives an impression that this government, which is involved in corruption and daylight robbery, does not want development." BJP MLC and spokesperson N Ravikumar said, "Those arrested is believed to have confessed that the money was collected to pay Rural Development Minister Krishna Byre Gowda for the election expenses. We urge Gowda to immediately step down on moral grounds."
The BJP lodged a complaint with the chief electoral officer Sanjiv Kumar demanding that the election commission investigate the role of the minister besides checking on movement of free flow of illegal money in the state and effective vigil on non-compliance of the model code of conduct.
BJP MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar said the I.T raids and seizure of about Rs 2 crore cash points to the fact that the Congress-JDS coalition was not bound by any governance or development agenda but it is about how to stay in power and collect money and exploit the state and its people leading up to the elections.
"I challenge the Congress party president and indeed the chief minister of cto come clean on the rampant corruption and money collection that is underway in Karnataka," he told reporters in New Delhi.
Referring to reports that the documents seized during the raid allegedly point to between 10 and 20 per cent commission being taken by the officials, he said, "for whom
they are acting or whose protection they are acting, we can only surmise and guess."
Citing news reports, he alleged that the contracts related to the Rural Development Ministry.
"How an executive officer in his department able to have documents of contracts and so much of cash without some sort of support and protection within the government. Who is that somebody in Karnataka?"
Joining BJP colleagues in their demand for Byre Gowda's resignation, he said all the contracts issued by the Karnataka government must be made public as people should know "how much the coalition government is looting and exploiting."