NEW DELHI: An angry Congress shouted slogans in Parliament today as its senior leaders accused the BJP-led central government of "abuse of power," questioning the timing of raids on a Karnataka minister, DK Sivakumar, that saw income tax officials visit a luxury resort in Bengaluru, where the Congress has kept 44 legislators from Gujarat to prevent defections before a crucial Rajya Sabha election. Union minister Arun Jaitley rejected the allegation stating that the raids were "on the minister and not the MLAs" and had nothing to do with the Gujarat election.
Mr Sivakumar, who is being investigated in a tax evasion case, was picked up from Bengaluru's Eagleton Golf Resort by taxmen. He had been tasked by his party, the Congress, to look after the Gujarat legislators and so was staying there. Tax officials raided 39 locations in Delhi, Bengaluru and Kanakapura, 60 km from Karnataka's state capital, linked to the minister today.
Union minister Arun Jaitley told Rajya Sabha that no searches were conducted at resort where the Gujarat legislators are staying. "A particular individual had lodged himself there," Mr Jaitley said. When the tax officials reached, they found him "tearing papers". "Those torn papers and documents were recovered" and the "individual has been taken to his residence and is being interrogated, Mr Jaitley added.
"The use or abuse (of power) would depend on the nature of recoveries," Mr Jaitley said in response to the Congress' Anand Sharma, who alleged, "It has become a brazen trend to use state power and agencies, be the Income Tax department or the CBI."
Mr Sharma said the timing of the raid, days before the Rajya Sabha election and when MLAs from Gujarat were in Karnataka, was "questionable", especially since they were against Mr Sivakumar. "It is this minister and his brother who have been coordinating the safety and stay of Gujarat MLAs," he said.
"Elections cannot happen under threats and blackmails," said another senior Congress leader, Ghulam Nabi Azad. Rajya Sabha was repeatedly adjourned amid the Congress' loud protests.