I-T raids at Galla aide’s house, Rs 45 Lakh cash seized
Continuing its spree of raids on suspected tax violators, the Income Tax Department conducted searches on the residence of a person working with the Telugu Desam Party (TDP)’s Jayadev Galla, late Tuesday evening, and found Rs 45.4 lakh of unaccounted cash.
The I-T raid on the Guntur house of Gurrappa Naidu, the chief accountant of Amara Raja Batteries, owned by Galla, comes close on the heels of raids conducted from Sunday on close aides of Madhya Pradesh chief minister and Congress leader Kamal Nath, where unaccounted money worth Rs 281 crore was reportedly identified.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday spoke of the raids and said this was hard evidence of Congress’ corruption.
At a rally in Junagarh, Gujarat, Modi said, “In Congress’ election scam, a new name has been added… and that is Tughlaq Road election scam. Congress has taken food from the mouths of poor children to fill the stomachs of its leaders. It has stolen money meant for pregnant women. .. First it made Karnataka an ATM for itself. Now it has made an ATM in Madhya Pradesh. Congress comes to power only to loot people.”
Congress spokesperson Pranav Jha said, ”With ED, CBI and other government agencies at his command the Prime Minister can manufacture any charge against his opponent. And if you look at the selective targeting of opponent one can see patterns that he is going after his political adversaries selectively.”
In New Delhi, Nath’s official residence is 1, Tughlaq Road while Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s official residence is on Tughlak Lane.
A press release issued on Monday by the Central Board of Direct Taxes, under which the Department of Revenue falls, stated that the searches in Madhya Pradesh detected a “widespread and well-organized racket of collection of unaccounted cash of about Rs 281 crore through various persons in different walks of life including business, politics and public service.”
“A part of the cash was also transferred to the headquarters of a major political party in Delhi, including about Rs 20 crore, which was moved through hawala recently to the headquarter of the political party from the residence of a senior functionary at Tughlak Road, New Delhi,” the statement added.
Nath termed the raids that targeted his former officer on special duty Praveen Kakkar and close associate RK Miglani as “politically motivated actions” of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
In the past few weeks, raids have also been conducted in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa and Tamil Nadu, and specifically on persons closely associated with politicians including Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati, Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) treasurer S Duraimurugan. The total amount of goods and money seized is not available.
Several opposition leaders have alleged that the I-T raids are being conducted at the behest of the BJP. Congress leader Ahmed Patel on Tuesday said that the raids showed the “desperation” in the ruling party.
In a blog post on Wednesday, Finance minister Arun Jaitley defended the string of raids.
“The Revenue Department acts objectively on the basis of material available and takes action when they are satisfied that a case of search operation is made out,” Jaitley, who is in the United States at present, wrote.
Meanwhile, TDP president and AP chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Wednesday staged a sit-in in front of the EC office in the state secretariat complex at Amaravati to protest against the raid, and transfer of government officials based on complaints by its chief opposition in the state, YSR Congress.
“This is nothing short of fascism and it smacks of an emergency-like situation. Modi is trying to influence the elections by selectively targeting the TDP leaders in Andhra Pradesh,” Galla, who will contest the LS elections in AP on April 11, said.
“Information was received on a toll-free-number that cash was kept at the residence of Shri Gurappa Naidu which was to be used in the general elections. It was only at the time of recording his statement late in the night that he revealed that he was (working for) Shri Galla Jayadaev, MP, TDP in his capacity as a cost accountant,” a CBDT official said. No premises of Galla’s had been searched, they clarified.
In a letter to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, Naidu accused ECI of bias towards the BJP and YSR Congress party. “There is no change in ECI attitude even after 66 former bureaucrats petitioned the President of India pointing out its biased attitude. If ECI wants to favour the YSRC and BJP, let it campaign for those parties directly,” he wrote.
However, on Sunday, ECI issued a letter to investigative agencies advising them that all enforcement actions during the election period should be impartial, and the Chief Electoral Officer should be informed while the model code of conduct is in force.
In another letter to the revenue department on Wednesday, the EC said, “The commission reprimands the department of revenue for making unwarranted remarks and expects that the directions issued by the commission in the said advisory (dated April 7) are followed in letter as well as spirit.”
“We understand the words ‘neutral’, ‘impartial’, and ‘non-discriminatory’ mean that we must act as and when information is available against anyone, irrespective of political affiliation,” the revenue department had said in reply to the EC letter on April 7.