Raid on Minister: Tax official denies Karnataka CM’s charge

Bengaluru: A top Income Tax official of Karnataka on Thursday denied Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s charge that department officials who raided a state Minister in August had asked him to join the Bharatiya Janata Party and dubbed it “baseless”.

“We strongly deny the Chief Minister’s allegation that is baseless. No Income Tax officer has made such a statement to the Minister or anyone else,” the Director General of Income Tax (Investigation) said in a statement here without naming the Minister.

Siddaramaiah on Wednesday alleged that the tax officials had asked Karnataka Energy Minister D.K. Shivakumar to join the BJP.

“Imagine the level of saffronisation happening. Tax officials asked Shivakumar to join the BJP,” the Chief Minister said at a protest rally the ruling Congress held here to mark one year of the central government’s demonetisation.

On accusations by political leaders that the searches were politically motivated, the official said the Income Tax Department was professional and politically neutral.

“The searches carried out have, without exception, resulted in admission and detection of previously undisclosed income running into hundreds of crores of rupees and seizure of large amount of cash and jewellery,” said the official.

Income Tax officials on Monday interrogated Shivakumar over the documents pertaining to assets, including cash, jewellery and properties seized during the raids conducted from August 2 to 5 on him, his relatives and friends in the city for alleged tax evasion and non-disclosure of income disproportionate to his sources of income.

As per the nomination filed in the 2013 assembly elections, Shivakumar had declared assets valued at Rs 251 crore, making him one of the richest politicians in the country.