Lok Sabha elections 2019: DMK cries foul after I-T raid on Kanimozhi
Officials from the income tax (I-T) department and the Election Commission (EC) searched senior Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader and the party’s Thoothukudi candidate K Kanimozhi’s residence and office in the southern port town on Tuesday evening, two days before the state votes.
According to I-T department officials who refused to be named, the raids were conducted on the basis of a complaint by the returning officer and district magistrate Sandeep Nanduri.
“The raids were conducted in Kurinji Nagar at Thoothukkudi. As we received information about cash movement, we launched the raids. About 10 officials from the EC and I-T department have conducted the raids,” said an official in the I-T department on condition of anonymity. Attempts to contact Nanduri were unsuccessful.
Officials from the revenue department told television channels that the raids were routine. An official in the revenue department said requesting anonymity, “IT raids are conducted on the basis of credible intelligence received. It is the job of the department to act upon credible information, which is routine.”
The raids sparked angry responses from the DMK, which accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of using central agencies against opposition parties, even as party workers took to the streets of Thoothukudi and shouted slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“People who hoarded crores of rupees had not been raided; the EC never took any action on our complaints. We have to undertake reforms in the EC in the future,” said party president MK Stalin. Kanimozhi is the daughter of late party patriarch M Karunanidhi and Stalin’s half-sister. She is facing the state BJP chief Tamilisai Soundararajan in Thoothukudi.
Meanwhile in Madurai, reports said policemen allegedly fired in the air after IT department officials were stopped by members of the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) from entering the party office in the town of Andipatti, a high-profile constituency once represented by late chief minister J Jayalalithaa. Police said no one was injured.
Earlier in the day, IT officials carried out coordinated raids at premises in Karnataka’s Mandya, Hassan and Bengaluru.
“The searches being conducted today are based on credible intelligence that certain businessmen have earned income not disclosed to tax and are in possession of undisclosed assets. The taxpayers covered in today’s search operations are engaged in the business of real estate, quarrying and stone crushing, executing government contracts, operating petrol bunks, saw mill and managing cooperative Banks. These are sectors which are prone to generation of black money,” said the department in a statement.
The I-T department has conducted raids in several states after the Election Commission announced poll dates last month and invoked the model code of conduct (MCC). The raids have been conducted mainly in the states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.
On Monday, I-T authorities issued summons to Tamil Nadu revenue minister RB Udayakumar following a late-night raid on his room at the MLA hostel in Chennai. Earlier, the I-T department’s raids in Bhopal, Indore, Goa and Delhi at the residences and offices of people linked to Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath had invited sharp criticism from the Opposition, which condemned the action as vendetta politics. Karnataka chief minister H D Kumaraswamy called Prime Minister Narendra Modi “worse than Hitler” after taxmen conducted raids on his party men last month.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley had said, “It has become a routine practice to call any action against corruption as political vendetta. Claim of vendetta has never been a legitimate defence in corruption.”