Raids on Karnataka minister managing Gujarat lawmakers, 11 crore seized

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Bengaluru: Karnataka minister DK Shivakumar was raided by taxmen today and picked up for questioning from a luxury resort in Bengaluru where he was staying with 43 lawmakers flown in from Gujarat by the Congress to check a rash of defections.

The minister was at the Eagleton Golf Resort since last night and was caught tearing up documents, said Income Tax officials, disclosing that Rs. 11 crore in cash was seized in raids at around 60 places in Karnataka and Delhi. Wads of cash were counted using note-counting machines.

Mr Shivakumar, the Energy Minister in Karnataka’s Congress government, is being investigated for tax evasion. It is suspected that he is “DKS” in a diary related to kickbacks, seized from a Congress leader earlier this year.

A raid team went with Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel to the resort for the minister, who is accused of channeling his wealth after demonetisation into real estate and jewellery. He searches extended to unlikely places like a college teacher’s locker, which was in the name of Mr Shivakumar’s relative.

Mr Shivakumar is chief trouble-shooter for the Congress in Karnataka and was designated handler for the Gujarat lawmakers who were rushed to Bengaluru late on Friday night after six of their colleagues quit the party, precipitating a crisis in the state ahead of the Rajya Sabha election next week – in which lawmakers are to vote – and polls later this year.

Rs. 11 crore was recovered during IT raids at Karnataka Minister DK Shivakumar’s Delhi home.
“The BJP is on an unprecedented witch-hunt just to win one Rajya Sabha seat,” tweeted Congress leader Ahmed Patel, who is facing a contest for re-election to the upper house from one of three seats in Gujarat.

“After using the state machinery and every other agency, these I-T raids show their utter desperation and frustration,” said Mr Patel, who is Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s political adviser.

Responding to the Congress’s allegation, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in parliament: “Don’t link the I-T raids to Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat.”

The Congress alleges that its lawmakers are being intimidated by the ruling BJP in Gujarat and also being offered Rs. 15 crore for their support in the Rajya Sabha polls on Tuesday.

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