Income Tax raids conducted on some contractors and chartered accountants in Bengaluru took a political turn as sources said that they were being carried out on a close circle connected with former Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa to send out a signal to him.
Former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy stated that the IT raids were being conducted to control Yediyurappa and his son B.Y. Vijayendra. “The party wants to hold them back before Yediyurappa and Vijayendra do something,” he maintained.
Sources in the party said that Yediyurappa is not happy with the high command cold-shouldering him after he stepped down from the post of Chief Minister.
Sources also say that Yediyurappa is also upset for not giving a cabinet berth to his son, BJP Vice-President B.Y. Vijayendra. Rubbing salt on the wound, the BJP did not announce Vijayendra’s name in the list of in-charges for by-elections initially. After a strong protest by his followers, his name was included. Earlier, the party had scuttled Yediyurappa’s plans of touring the state.
Yediyurappa, with all his limitations, continues to have mass appeal across the state and no BJP leader in Karnataka could match his charisma. Incumbent Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai though has started off well, he needs to go a long way in terms of matching the aura of Yediyurappa.
However, the party wants to move on with Yediyurappa as there are charges of rampant corruption, favouritism against him. After ensuring the smooth exit of Yediyurappa, the party was shocked by his statement against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He stated that the Modi wave alone cannot win elections in the state for the party. The party also knows how Yediyurappa confronted party veteran L.K. Advani after he was asked to step down from the top post during his first tenure.
The party recently appointed his confidantes as the political secretaries of the Chief Minister to assuage the old horse. Sources said Yediyurappa is not happy with the turn of events and he has started feeling being snubbed. In case Yediyurappa decides to stay low during elections, the party will suffer as BJP still lacks the leadership to match the mass appeal of Opposition leader Siddaramaiah and H.D. Deve Gowda family and Congress President D.K. Shivakumar.
Yediyurappa reacting to the IT raids from his native Shikaripura in Shivamogga district whether he has been targeted stated, “IT officers have carried out their duties. They will not spare anyone who goes wrong. This is not political. These raids will not have any effect on the by-elections,” he stated. “I will react more after getting information on Friday,” he said.
Chief Minister Bommai stated that IT raids are not connected to his government and he came to know about them only through the media. “Will react once I get details,” he also said.
As many as 300 officers from the IT department conducted raids in 50 locations across Karnataka on Thursday from early morning.
Sources said that the raids were conducted on the specific inputs regarding huge kickbacks while implementing various schemes to the tune of Rs 20,000 crore in the Water Resources ministry during the tenure of Yediyurappa. The officers raided the house of M.R. Umesh, who was the BMTC conductor cum driver turned contractor, allegedly made fortunes after coming into the close circles of Yediyurappa. He worked as the Personal Secretary of Yediyurappa and his services were also continued by the Bommai government. However, after this fact came out in the open, his appointment was taken back.
Sleuths of the IT department continued raids and searches at the residences and offices of contractors in Bengaluru and other cities of the state on Friday. The officers have recovered documents, hard discs and other evidence during the search at the residences of Umesh and Arvind who are identified as being in the close circle of former Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa.
The IT raids continued even after 35 hours at the residence of Umesh who is alleged to have made a fortune after coming into contact with Yediyurappa. Before that he worked as a conductor cum driver in the BMTC, the government-owned city transport service. The IT officials are tracking the transaction of crores of rupees.
A five-member team is conducting a search at the residence of Arvind at Vasanthnagar, who is said to have close links with Yediyurappa’s son B.Y. Vijayendra. Arvind is said to be in touch with Umesh and handled contracts allotment. Arvind has gone to Dubai and the IT officials have summoned him back for questioning.
Another team resumed search operations at the office of Rahul Enterprises in Sahakarnagar. The IT team had locked the office after they stopped the search operation late on Thursday night. They resumed operations at 9.45 a.m. on Friday. The IT team also swooped down on the residence of Umesh’s contact Somashekar.
The team conducted raids on the residence of industrialist and contractor Jayasheela Shetty, near Gokak in Belagavi district. It is said that the IT team is focusing on contractors who got tenders and also suppliers of raw materials. The raids on the residence and offices of contractor D.Y. Uppar and chartered accountant Lakshmikanth are also continuing in Bengaluru and other locations.
Yediyurappa said that his family has got nothing to do with the IT raids. Umesh is cooperating with the IT officers. He has been present all through the raids. The raids are not politically motivated. There is no connection between the by-elections and the IT raids, the former chief minister added.
The Income Tax Department sleuths carried out raids on 50 locations in Bengaluru city and Bagalkot district on Thursday morning. They raided the houses and offices of industrialists, contractors and chartered accountants in the city. Sources said that raids are being conducted after obtaining information from an insider of the state irrigation department.
A team of 300 officers is conducting simultaneous raids in various locations in the city after getting a tip-off on amassing of wealth by the accused persons by evading taxes and through other means.
The IT sleuths recovered four bags full of documents from the residence of Umesh, located in Bhashyam circle in Bengaluru on Thursday.
Sources said that IT officers are probing major discrepancies in the schemes implemented during Yediyurappa’s tenure by the state irrigation department. They said that thousands of crores of rupees changed hands as kickbacks in the process.