The I-T department had raided Shivakumar’s Bengaluru home last Wednesday. The officials spent days with Shivakumar at his residence in Bengaluru , with paramilitary personnel from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) guarding the gates.
D.K.Shivakumar. the Minister of Energy in the Government of Karnataka,has been hosting at least 40 legislators from Gujarat since Friday night at Eagleton resort, a golf resort outside Bengaluru.
Hailing from Karnataka’s Kanakapura, a small village on the outskirts of Bengaluru, Doddalahalli Kempegowda Shivakumar joined politics when he was studying at RC College in Bengaluru. Later, he joined youth Congress and was elected as General Secretary of Karnataka State Youth Congress between 1983-1985.
Shivakumar, born in the dominant Vokkaliga community, started his political career by contesting unsuccessfully against former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda in 1985. He again contested and won from the same seat in 1989 and has grown to be one of the most powerful leaders. He has served in various capacities under different chief ministers.
Shivakumar’s meteorical rise as a trustworthy political warhorse began in 1999 when he was the urban minister in the SM Krishna government, but his most dramatic win has been the 2013 elections when he pulled 1,00,007 votes against veteran PGR Sindhia of the JD(S) who received 68,583 votes.
A protege of former Congress leader S.M. Krishna ,now with the BJP, Shivakumar had also been tasked with the job of hosting former Maharashtra chief minister the late Vilasrao Deshmukh and around 70 MLAs in 2002.
As urban development minister then in the Krishna government, he was accused of political skulduggery, land grabbing, illegal granite mining and amassing huge wealth. Several cases have followed the six-time MLA from, Sathnur and later Kanakapura ,all through his career, the most recent being a land denotification issue on the outskirts of Bengaluru in which BJPstate president BS Yeddyurappa is a fellow accused.
Shivakumar’s skills as well as his strategic prowess have been put to extensive use by Congress. Every time there is a crisis in the party, including the current one to safeguard 44 Gujarat MLAs, he is the go-to man.
The income tax department has denied any Gujarat link to their raids, claiming the searches were planned in advance.”The search team has no concern with the MLAs and there has been no contact with the MLAs. The Income tax search is only on one Karnataka minister,”it said.
The Karnataka power minister was one of the richest candidates contesting the polls with a declared wealth of Rs. 251 Crore ,an increase of Rs. 176 Crore from 2008 elections, his election affidavit said.
According to sources, the Sadashivnagar residence of Shivkumar and the offices of two of his firms were searched by the officials. Apart from it, the residence of his brother and MP D K Suresh was also raided.
Simultaneously, the minister’s offices in Delhi were also inspected. Sources added that more than 200 officials are involved in the investigation
Officials carried out overnight raids at multiple locations in Bengaluru, Kanakapura, Mysuru, New Delhi and Hassan in connection with searches against the Congress leader. While the income tax department refused to reveal any details of seizure, reports suggested that close to Rs 11.4 crore was found in D K Shivakumar’s Delhi residence.
More than Rs. 300 crore in “undisclosed income” has been found in these raids on DK Shivakumar and his family and associates, according to reports from NDTV. About Rs. 100 crore of this was found from Mr Shivakumar, and his family, they said. The tax department, however, is yet to issue an official statement.
The Income Tax Department has said that there was no political motive behind the raids on Mr. Shivakumar.
“There were no political orders regarding this raid,” the official added. “The investigative team has been planning this for a while. This is a part and parcel of investigations. Raids are carried out only when there is enough evidence to suggest there is some hidden income, etc.”
“The search is the continuation of an investigation which has been in progress for a considerable period of time. They added that the timing of the search was decided well in advance,” the I-T department had said in a statement.
“The events involving certain MLAs of another state being brought to Karnataka were unforeseen and unpredictable events,” the statement had stated. The search, described as an “evidence gathering exercise”, was conducted by the Karnataka Investigation Wing of the Income Tax department.
“The search under Section 132 of the Income Tax Act is an evidence gathering exercise which is being carried in compliance with all statutory requirements. The search is the continuation of an investigation which has been in progress for a considerable period of time,” the I-T department had said.
I-T sources said Shivakumar remained silent on at least 18 shell companies which he floated, purportedly to avoid tax. He did not divulge much during the marathon six-hour grilling session on Friday, they added. His interrogation was recorded by the deputy director ,I-T investigation, and three other tax sleuths.
“Shivakumar was not cooperating with the investigation. He sought two or three days’ time to provide information and said he cannot recollect much since he was not well. If he continues to remain uncooperative, we will have to hand over the case to the Enforcement Directorate,I-T sources said.
According to sources there are strong indications that the Enforcement Directorate is likely to take over the probe. A source in the ED confirmed they also received a formal complaint against Shivakumar from Guruprasad, a resident of Ramanagara, Kumar’s home district.
In a complaint to the ED, a copy of which was accessed by sources, Guruprasad, a resident of Bidadi in Bengaluru’s suburbs, who claims to be a whistle-blower has made several charges against Shivakumar.
Guruprasad, has filed a complaint seeking an ED probe into money laundering allegations against five associates of Shivakumar. These include his astrologer Dwarakanath, who was also raided by the IT department on Wednesday, Shivakumar’s private secretary Sridhar, G V Balaram, the MD of Karnataka Renewable Energy Dev Ltd, Sachin Narayan a businessman and Puttaswamy Gowda, an electrical contractor.
Guruprasad alleged that the minister gave some select people in Kanakapura, his assembly constituency, Rs 2 lakh each and got demonetized currency worth crores of rupees, converted into new currency. Also that Shivakumar, with the help of two associates in Bengaluru, also got more than Rs 2,000 crore in demonetized notes converted through money laundering, he claimed in the complaint.
In the complainant he also alleged that Shivakumar, as energy minister, made Rs 6,000 crore in the Rs 20,000 crore solar power project deal. The 1500MW project, considered to be Asia’s biggest power project, has been proposed at Pavagada, Tumkur district. “That the minister’s land was acquired from farmers in benami deals,they were paid paltry sums, and the same land was later leased to the Solar Power Corporation of India for a high amount”
Dismissing the claims of using state machinery to target the opposition parties, Union finance minister Arun Jaitley said no Congress MLAs from Gujarat were searched in the Bengaluru resort hours after Karnataka Minister DK Shivakumar was raided by the I-T Department officers on Wednesday morning.
“Now, a person whose home is being raided has to be consulted and questioned. That is why I-T department authorities went to the ,Bengaluru resort. When the officials reached the resort, they found that he was trying to tear up some documents,”Jaitley made the comment in the Rajya Sabha while countering the Congress’ claims of using the state machinery to pressurise the opposition parties.