In a pre-dawn swoop on Thursday, Income Tax officials along with CRPF personnel carried out raids at the residences of Karnataka Minor Irrigation Minister CS Puttaraju and his nephew.
Speaking to a private news channel, JD(S) leader Puttaraju said three teams of Income Tax officials and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel carried out raids at his Chinnakurli residence in Mandya and his nephew’s house in Mysuru.
The I-T raids are underway at multiple locations in Bengaluru, Hassan, Mandya and Mysuru. The raids are taking place at locations of 17 contractors and seven officers from the Public Works Department (PWD) and Irrigation Department.
The searches are also reportedly going on in the homes of associates of Public Works Department Minister HD Revanna, brother of the Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy and son of former prime minister HD Deve Gowda.
Sources in the Congress said raids have been carried out at least 10 to 15 places in the city and elsewhere without giving details.
Following the raids, the chief minister on Thursday said that “Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s real surgical strike is out in the open through IT dept raids”.
“PM Narendra Modi’s real surgical strike is out in the open through IT dept raids. The constitutional post offer for IT officer Balakrishna helped the PM in his revenge game. Highly deplorable to use govt machinery, corrupt officials to harass opponents during election time,” he tweeted.
The development came a day after, Karnataka Chief Minister Kumaraswamy raised fears about possible searches on Congress and JD(S) functionaries in the state.
He had claimed that CRPF personnel were brought from various parts of the country to carry out the raids.
Hon’ble PM @NarendraModi is misusing the IncomeTax 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
— H D Kumaraswamy (@hd_kumaraswamy) March 27, 2019
Searches on Congress and JD(S) leaders can take place early Thursday morning using CRPF jawans instead of taking the help of the Karnataka Police in order to maintain secrecy, Kumaraswamy had claimed on Wednesday.
“Three teams of I-T officials and CRPF soldiers comprising eight soldiers carried out raids at my Chinnakurli residence in Mandya and my nephew’s residence in Mysuru,” Puttaraju told the channel.
The minister said he was not afraid of the raids and instead, it had instilled confidence in him.
“I’m not deterred by the raids, which are election-related. I would like to know which BJP leader’s house in Karnataka has been raided,” Puttaraju, who is the in-charge minister of Mandya district, said.
The JD(S) has assigned him to oversee the electioneering of HD Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil Kumaraswamy, who is fighting his maiden election from the Mandya Lok Sabha seat.
The searches come a day after Kumaraswamy warned that he would follow what his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee did to counter the ‘misuse’ of central agencies.
Banerjee had staged a “Save the Constitution” dharna from February 3 to 5 in Kolkata after the CBI’s failed bid to question Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar in connection with chit fund cases.
Puttaraju said soon a meeting will be convened where the mode of protest against these raids will be decided.
JD(S) leaders have accused the BJP of playing a political game in the state ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
“CM had already spoken about this because he got inputs from intelligence department. BJP is trying to play a political game. Why no raids at BJP leaders’ houses? I-T raids are common, but I am questioning their timing,” JD(S) leader Madhu Bangarappa said.
Karnataka will vote in the Lok Sabha elections on April 18 and 23. Results will be out on May 23.
(With agency inputs)