KARNATAKA CHIEF Minister H D Kumaraswamy, Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara and several leaders of the Congress and JD(S) parties staged a protest outside the office of the Income-Tax department in Bengaluru on Thursday over alleged targeting of JD(S) party functionaries involved in electioneering work in Mandya and Hassan region of the state.
Although media reports suggested that the I-T department carried out searches at the residence of state Minor Irrigation Minister C S Puttaraju, who is supervising the campaign of Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil Kumaraswamy in Mandya, the I-T department denied these searches.
“Certain searches are being carried out by the Income-Tax department… on contractors and connected persons. No MP, MLA or minister has so far been covered in the searches. These searches are being carried out on the basis of credible information received,” the office of the Principal Chief Commissioner of Income Tax said in a statement.
The I-T department carried out searches on premises belonging to contractors in Hassan — Narayana Reddy, Ashwath Gowda and Raya Gowda — who are linked to PWD Minister H D Revanna, whose son Prajwal Revanna, a grandson of JD(S) president H D Deve Gowda, is contesting the Lok Sabha polls from Hassan seat. In Mandya, the I-T department carried out searches on a premises belonging to a nephew of the Minor Irrigation Minister C S Puttaraju.
Kumaraswamy accused the BJP government at the Centre of targeting the JD(S) in the run-up to the elections.
“They are out to scare us but the fact is the BJP is shaken and wants to win the election through intimidation. We will not get scared,” Kumaraswamy said.
He accused the head of the investigation wing of the I-T Department in Karnataka, B R Balakrishnan, of being a BJP agent. “A BJP leader sends a list of people to Amit Shah, who forwards it to Balakrishnan to carry out raids. Balakrishnan is acting like a BJP agent. It seems he wants a post retirement position of a governor in some state,” he said.
He also tweeted: “Highly deplorable to use govt machinery, corrupt officials to harass opponents during election time.”
Ahead of the searches on Thursday, Kumaraswamy had on Wednesday said that leaders of his party were going to be targeted by the I-T department.
The Congress and JD(S) have frequently accused the BJP of targeting its leaders by using the I-T department. The Congress has staged protests in the past over searches carried out on properties belonging to minister and senior leader D K Shivakumar.
The investigation wing of the I-T department denied the allegations made by the Chief Minister and Congress leaders.
“The investigation wing of the Income-Tax department is committed to carrying out its functions in a professional manner in accordance with the provisions of law. We request the cooperation all concerned persons including political parties,” the department said. “We also request that the activities of the Income-Tax department should not be politicised, personalised or trivialised….”