Congress-JD-S seek Karnataka top IT official’s transfer

Bengaluru: Karnataka’s ruling Congress-Janata Dal-Secular alliance on Monday urged the Election Commission to transfer the state’s Director General, Income Tax, B.R. Balakrishnan for “selectively” carrying tax raids on their leaders and contractors and traders close to them.

“In view of the partisan tax raids on our political leaders, their relatives, contractors and traders ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in the state on April 18, Balakrishnan has to be transferred outside the state,” the allies said in a joint letter to Chief Electoral Officer Sanjiv Kumar.

Noting that ensuring free and fair elections on a level playing field for all parties was the poll panel’s responsibility, the allies said the tax office was selectively raiding their candidates and associates in the state since March 28.

They said Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, Deputy Chief Minister G. Parameshwara, Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah and other leaders have protested against the raids at the tax office on March 28.

On April 13, the tax sleuths raided the premises of Congress candidates B.N. Chandrappa (Chitradurga), Prakash Hukkeri (Chikkodi) and Rizwan Arshad (Bangalore Central) though nothing incriminating was found from them.

“By selectively targeting our candidates, Balakrishnan is trying to show that only we are flush with funds and not any candidate of the BJP,” said Congress state President Dinesh Gundu Rao in the letter.

The combine also said, in the letter, that though facts belie the fallacious assumption of the tax office, Balakrishnan’s comment that the protest by the allies was similar to the tactics of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Bannerjee, as per his March 30 letter to the CEO, was “disturbing”.

“Political or loose comments on ministers and elected leaders makes Balakrishnan’s continuation in the office untenable, as they reflect his hostility and vindictiveness against our coalition government in the state,” they said in the letter.

The letter also referred to the arrest of a tax officer for allegedly taking Rs 14 lakh bribe from a builder in the city recently.

“The tax officer’s arrest reveals that the IT department was blackmailing and harassing individuals, politicians, businessmen, traders and contractors,” the ruling parties alleged.

Accusing the tax office of overlooking the omissions and commissions of the BJP leaders and candidates, the allies said Balakrishnan was misusing his office to target only Congress-JD-S leaders, candidates and their associates.