I-T raids on Reddy brothers, 5 BJP MLAs in Karnataka

Against backdrop of charges of horse-trading, I-T officials conducted raids at premises of 3 ministers including the Reddy bros.

Zeenews Bureau

Bangalore: Against the backdrop of charges
of horse-trading in Karnataka, Income Tax officials conducted
simultaneous raids today at the premises of three ministers
including the Reddy brothers, who are mining magnates, and
four other ruling BJP MLAs.

The premises of G Janardhana Reddy and G Karunakara
Reddy and their business associate and minister B Sreeramulu
came under the scanner of the IT 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 this morning,
several documents have been seized, the sources said.

The raids were conducted by a 300-strong team of IT
sleuths headed by G Rajeshwara Rao, Director General
(Investigation), Karnataka and Goa.

A room in the Legislators` Home here was also raided.
The Reddy brothers own the Obulapuram Mining Company and become billionaires after entering the mining business about 10 years ago.

The Reddys consider Sriramulu to be a part of their family. Suresh Babu is Sriramulu`s relative.

"Searches are on", an IT official said several hours
after the raids commenced.

None of the seven BJP legislators were available for
comments on the IT 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 Dhananjaya Kumar in a veiled attack on the Congress.

He had talked of impending raids on Saturday. He termed the raids a "political conspiracy" to destabilize the BJP government in the state.

Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa said he had no information about the raids. "I have no information on it and will not comment," he said in Haveri in north Karnataka.

Reacting to Dhananjaya Kumar`s statement, state Congress unit chief R.V. Deshpande said it was "rubbish" to say the IT searches were a "political conspiracy".

The residences and office premises of BJP MLA from
Kampli H T Suresh, also a relative of Sreeramulu, and B
Nagendra, MLA representing the Kudligi Assembly constituency
were among those places raided.

A staff member attached to Janardhana Reddy also faced
the IT action, the sources said.

At least four mining companies in Hospet came under the
IT scanner and raids were carried out at the residence and
office premises of a BJP leader in Sandur.

The IT 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 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.

Opposition Congress leader Siddaramaiah and JD-S state
unit chief H D Kumaraswamy refused to react to the IT raids
saying, "It is a routine thing done by IT department based on
the information collected by its enforcement wing".

-Agencies inputs

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