New Delhi: The Congress on Wednesday alleged political vendetta by the BJP-led NDA government in the IT raids on a Karnataka Minister, as Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that the raids were in no way linked to the Gujarat Rajya Sabha elections or the 44 Congress MLAs housed in a resort in Bengaluru.
Raising the issue in the Lok Sabha soon after Zero Hour started, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said the BJP-led NDA government out of political vendetta was using central agencies against opposition leaders.
“In Gujarat there is election for three Rajya Sabha seats. The Congress had 57 members and support of four others, but they (BJP) broke away five members,” Kharge alleged.
“Now they are using the IT department on our MLAs from Gujarat, who are in a resort in Karnataka. The Income Tax department is being used to threaten them as well as a Minister of Karnataka,” Kharge said, as members from the treasury benches raised their pitch in protest.
“With such political vendetta and mishandling, democracy cannot be saved. If there is any economic offence take action, but to win an election you are misusing IT,” he said.
Jaitley said there was no raid on the Gujarat MLAs, and the Karnataka Minister who was being raided had gone to hide in the resort (Eagleton resort), due to which the IT officials went there.
“It is a serious issue, but maybe he (Kharge) does not have complete information. I have got information from the Income Tax department, there was no raid on Gujarat MLAs in any resort,” Jaitley said.
“It is true that one Minister of Karnataka and his associates are being searched. The Minister being raided reached a resort. When there is a raid, the IT officials have to record the person’s statement, so they went to the resort,” Jaitley said.
He also said that the IT officials “found the Minister destroying some papers”.
“There are raids on 39 other places, but there is no link with the Gujarat elections. It is only linked to an economic offence,” he said.
Congress MPs however started protesting, and trooped near the Speaker’s podium.
Speaker Sumitra Mahajan asked the Congress members to go back to their seats.
“You sought clarification, so the Minister gave a clarification,” she said.
The Congress members however continued raising slogans, and the Zero Hour continued amid sloganeering.
Income Tax raids were conducted at 39 places, including the residence of Karnataka Minister D.K. Shivakumar, and at a private resort owned by Shivakumar near Bengaluru where 44 Congress lawmakers from Gujarat have been staying since Saturday.
Officials said they have recovered Rs 5 crore in cash from the residence of Shivakumar.