The Income Tax Department has conducted search and seizure operations at a resort in Bangalore, India that was housing 44 legislators.
The MLAs were part of the Gujarat Congress party and had been kept in Bangalore ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections next week.
The Gujarat state Rajya Sabha elections, which is being hotly contested, will be held on August 8th. As six of its legislators have already quit Congress leading up to the elections, the party had flown 44 of them down to Bangalore to prevent deflections. Karnataka’s Energy Minister D.K. Shivakumar and his brother, D.K. Suresh, MP from Bengaluru rural had been put in-charge of these MPs until the election was held.
At 7am on August 2nd, an IT raid was conducted in the resort where the MPs were staying. Raids were conducted on other properties of D K Shivakumar. The search and seizure operations were conducted on the properties of his family members including his brother K Suresh and his cousin S Ravi. The Congress party has said that these raids are politically motivated. However, the income tax department has maintained that the raids were planned well in advance.
In a detailed statement, the department said, “The search under Section 132 of the Income Tax Act is an evidence gathering exercise, which is being carried in compliance with all statutory requirements. The search is the continuation of an investigation, which has been in progress for a considerable period of time. The timing of the search was decided well in advance. The events involving certain MLAs of another State being brought to Karnataka were unforeseen and unpredictable events. The Minister being searched was staying at a resort near Bangalore where some MLAs from another State are put up. Hence the Minister’s room alone is being searched. The search team has no concern with the MLAs and there has been no contact with MLAs and the search team.”
Suresh has spoken out publicly noting that he and his political party were being “arm twisted”. He said that all businesses conducted by him and his family were legal and the MLAs were staying at the resort as guests. He added that this stay was being paid for by Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee.
According to reports, the income tax department has so far seized Rs 7.5 crores.
Our assessment is that more investigation needs to be conducted to decipher if these raids were politically motivated as alleged.