Even as the Congress and other Opposition parties criticised the raids which took place on the properties linked to Karnataka energy minister DK Shivakumar, one voice was curiously absent. That of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi.
On Wednesday, the Income Tax department had raided locations linked to Shivakumar and the Eagleton Golf Resort in Bengaluru (where 44 Gujarat Congress MLAs are currently holed up). Shivakumar is one of the most influential leaders in Karnataka Congress and had been tasked with looking after MLAs from Gujarat by the Congress leadership. After the raids, the Congress cried foul, alleging that the central government was indulging in vendetta politics, while the BJP insisted that the I-T department's actions was a "purely professional activity."
However, when Gandhi was asked to comment on the matter, he chose to talk about other matters, reported NDTV. He was quoted as saying, "I am going to Gujarat in two-three days. There, you can ask me as many questions about Gujarat as you want." Gandhi, who is likely to be appointed as Congress president in a few months, had just launched two departments in the party, one for professionals and the other for unorganised workers. He was quite determined to stick to that agenda when he talked to the reporters at the impromptu briefing.
Other Congress leaders have been much more forthcoming in their comments. Congress leader Ashok Gehlot had accused the BJP of "trampling" democracy and alleged that the Income Tax action was an attempt to portray that his party was indulged in horse trading. "I condemn the timing of the IT raid at the Kartanaka minister's resort in Bengaluru. It is an attempt to portray that Congress is indulging in horse trading. The Congress has never done that, but the BJP is known for horse trading. The BJP in Rajasthan is an example which doesn't trust its MLAs," the Congress national general secretary had said.
Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah too condemned the Income Tax department's raids. In a series of tweets, he had supported the minister and accused the Centre of "political vendetta". Siddaramaiah said the raids were a "political conspiracy" planned against Shivakumar and condemned the use of para-military forces in I-T searches.
IT raids aimed at my Cabinet colleague @withDKS clearly a pol conspiracy. Use of Central Para-Military Forces in an IT search is condemnable
— CM of Karnataka (@CMofKarnataka) August 2, 2017
The Congress also approached the Election Commission asking it to ensure the safety and security of its MLAs from Gujarat, ahead of the 8 August Rajya Sabha election in the state. The party had also alleged that its MLAs from Gujarat, who have found a safe haven in a Karnataka resort, were being terrorised and intimidated by the central security forces in the garb of raids against Shivakumar.
On the other side of the aisle, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said that Shivakumar was trying to destroy documents crucial for the probe. "Now, a person whose home is being raided has to be consulted and questioned. That is why I-T department authorities went to the (Bengaluru) resort. They wanted to bring him back home. When the I-T officials reached the resort, they found that he was trying to tear up some documents," Jaitley had said in the Rajya Sabha. The finance minister had also said that the searches had no connection with Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat.
With inputs from agencies
Published Date: Aug 03, 2017 09:57 am | Updated Date: Aug 03, 2017 09:57 am