In raids that could have political ramifications in Karnataka, Income Tax officials have raided over 50 locations, across the state, including residences and offices of an aide of former chief minister BS Yediyurappa.
Late into Wednesday night, officials were searching the house of Yediyurappa’s personal assistant (PA) Umesh in what is being seen as an attempt to unearth alleged “undisclosed wealth”. Raids at Umesh’s residence assume (political) significance mainly because Umesh served as PA during Yediyurappa’s last term. Besides, he is said to be close to Yediyurappa’s son BY Vijayendra, who is now a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) vice-president.
As per local reports, I-T officials raided the houses and offices of several businessmen, contractors close to the former chief minister in Bengaluru, Bagalkote, Belagavi, Vijayapura and Davangere.
According to reports, Umesh came under the I-T radar ever since he allegedly ‘fixed’ major irrigation contracts worth hundreds of crores in return for a cut. What also came under the scanner was his alleged involvement contracts for the multi-crore Cauvery Irrigation Corporation and Krishna Irrigation Corporation.
There are whispers in political corridors that the raid is nothing, but a clear message to Yediyurappa about his plans to have his sons play a bigger role in state politics. When Basavaraj Bommai took over as CM, replacing Yediyurappa, the BJP high command refused to make BY Vijayendra a minister — in what was seemingly a clear snub to the Lingayat strongman.
On his part, Yediyurappa confirmed the raid had indeed taken place on the premises on Umesh.
“A raid has taken place at Umesh’s residence. He was not working with Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai but with me. The truth will come out tomorrow morning and then I will react,” Yediyurappa said, caustically.
However, he said I-T officials never spare a person who does wrong things. “They never spare anyone. They have taken action as per law,” the former CM said.
When asked the reason behind the raid, Yediyurappa said he was not aware of it and knew only what is reported in the media.
According to him, I-T officials have summoned Umesh at 11 am on Friday, after which he will be able to know the reason behind the raids.
To a question on “political reasons” at a time when the by-polls were round the corner, Yediyurappa said, “I don’t want to link the raid with politics. IT raids are different from politics. I-T raids keep happening normally. There is no need to find reasons unnecessarily.”
Curiously, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said he was not aware of the raids.