Bangalore, Oct 25 (IANS) Income Tax (IT) officials Monday searched about 60 places in Karnataka belonging to people close to the Reddy brothers, rich iron ore miners and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ministers in the state.
The targets included the Bangalore office of Health Minister B. Sriramulu, a confidant of the Reddy brothers – Tourism Minister G. Janardhana Reddy and his elder brother and Revenue Minister G. Karunakara Reddy – officials said.
The residence of the two bothers’ advocate here and the houses of at least two BJP legislators were also searched, officials said.
‘About 100 officials are involved in conducting the search operations in Bangalore, Bellary and Hospet,’ a spokesperson of the IT department told IANS here.
The legislators who faced IT searches are B. Nagendra, representing Kudligi, and T. H. Suresh Babu, elected from Kampli, both in the iron ore rich district of Bellary, the political stronghold of the Reddy brothers.
Residence of the two legislators in their constituencies and their rooms at the legislators’ home in Bangalore were searched, the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson declined to say whether any documents have been seized during the searches.
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.
The searches come two days after BJP leaders in the state claimed they had information that the central government was planning such an operation to embarrass the party’s first government in Karnataka.
‘Our apprehensions have come true,’ V. Dhananjaya Kumar, former union minister and the Karnataka government’s special representative in New Delhi, told reporters here.
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’.
Yeddyurappa is struggling to save his 29-month-old ministry as 11 party legislators and five Independents supporting the party have rebelled against him.
The opposition Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) have been accusing the BJP of trying to lure their legislators with huge sums of money. Sources pegged the BJP’s offer amount between Rs.25-50 crore for a legislator switching loyalties.
Two Congress and one JD-S legislator have quit the assembly in the last 10 days. That brings down the effective strength of the house, already depleted by the suspension of 16 members, and thereby also the simple majority mark. The BJP mustered 106 votes on the trust motion Oct 14.