BANGALORE: Against the backdrop of charges of horse-trading in Karnataka, income-tax officials conducted simultaneous raids on Monday at the premises of three ministers, including the Reddy brothers, who are mining magnates, and four other ruling BJP MLAs.
The premises of Mr G Janardhana Reddy and Mr G Karunakara Reddy and their business associate and minister Mr B Sreeramulu came under the scanner of the I-T department, official sources told PTI.
A majority of the 60-65 raids were conducted here and in mine-rich Bellary, Hospet and Sandur in the home district of the Reddy brothers, who have been accused by the opposition of trying to lure their MLAs. Bellary is the stronghold of the Reddy brothers.
During the operation launched early Monday morning, several documents have been seized, the sources said.
The raids were conducted by a 300-strong team of I-T sleuths headed by Mr G Rajeshwara Rao, director general (investigation), Karnataka and Goa.
A room in the Legislators’ Home here was also raided.
“Searches are on,” an I-T official said several hours after the raids commenced.
None of the seven BJP legislators were available for comments on the I-T raids carried out amid a volatile political situation in Karnataka with suspense continuing on the future of the BJP’s first government in the south.
But the BJP said the raids were a “political conspiracy” and nothing but an attempt by the ruling dispensation to take undue advantage of the political power at the Centre.
“People who are sitting in the Opposition in the state are getting frustrated in their attempt to destabilise the democratically elected government are now upto misuse of power vested in the hands of the government of India,” said BJP leader, Mr Dhannajay Kumar in a veiled attack on the Congress.
The residences and office premises of BJP MLA from Kampli, Mr H T Suresh, also a relative of Mr Sreeramulu, and Mr B Nagendra, MLA representing the Kudligi assembly constituency were among those places raided.
A staff member attached to Mr Janardhana Reddy also faced the I-T action, the sources said.
At least four mining companies in Hospet came under the I-T scanner and raids were carried out at the residence and office premises of a BJP leader in Sandur.
The I-T raids came against the backdrop of the political turmoil in the state which saw 16 MLAs withdrawing their support to the B S Yeddyurappa government forcing it to face two floor tests in the 224-member assembly. Four MLAs have deserted the opposition ranks by giving up their memberships.
The Congress and the JD-S have accused the BJP of poaching on their MLAs to shore up its numbers in the House, but the ruling party has hit back at the opposition, charging it with trying all means to topple the state government.
Though the BJP government has won the trust vote, a cloud of uncertainty still looms large with the Karnataka High Court reserving its verdict on the plea of 11 rebel BJP MLAs challenging their disqualification by the Speaker and pendency of petitions filed by five disqualified Independents.
The Opposition leader, Mr Siddaramaiah and the JD-S state unit chief, Mr H D Kumaraswamy refused to react to the I-T raids saying, “It is a routine thing done by I-T department based on the information collected by its enforcement wing.”