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I-T dept targets BJP MLAs in Karnataka

Last updated on: October 25, 2010 19:22 IST

Against the backdrop of charges of horse-trading in Karnataka, Income Tax officials conducted simultaneous raids on Monday at the premises of three ministers including the Reddy brothers, who are mining magnates, and four other ruling BJP MLAs.

The premises of G Janardhana Reddy and G Karunakara Reddy and their business associate and minister B Sreeramulu came under the scanner of the IT department, official sources told PTI.

A majority of the 60-65 raids were conducted here and in mine-rich Bellary, Hospet and Sandur in the home district of the Reddy brothers, who have been accused by the opposition of trying to lure their MLAs. Bellary is the stronghold of the Reddy brothers.

Sources told rediff.com that raids were conducted at the residences and offices of Suresh Babu and Nagendra. According to sources, raids were conducted in 60 different places including their offices at Bellary and Bengaluru. Their residences were also searched by I-T department officials.

I-T sleuths have seized black money and several documents, said sources. The two leaders will be questioned further in this regard and similar I-T raids will continue, they said.

The raids come in the wake of Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa's vow to launch an inquiry into the unaccounted and illegal money that had been used to horse trade MLAs in Karnataka during the recent political crisis.

None of the seven BJP legislators were available for comments on the IT raids carried out amid a volatile political situation in Karnataka with suspense continuing on the future of the BJP's first government in the south.

But the BJP said the raids were a "political conspiracy" and nothing but an attempt by the ruling dispensation to take undue advantage of the political power at the Centre.

"People who are sitting in the Opposition in the state are getting frustrated in their attempt to destabilise the democratically elected government are now misusing the power vested in the hands of the Government of India," said BJP leader Dhannajay Kumar in a veiled attack on the Congress.

The residences and office premises of BJP MLA from Kampli H T Suresh, also a relative of Sreeramulu, and B Nagendra, MLA representing the Kudligi Assembly constituency were among those places raided.

A staff member attached to Janardhana Reddy also faced the IT action, the sources said. At least four mining companies in Hospet came under the IT scanner and raids were carried out at the residence and office premises of a BJP leader in Sandur.

The IT raids came against the backdrop of the political turmoil in the state which saw 16 MLAs withdrawing their support to the B S Yeddyurappa Government forcing it to face two floor tests in the 224-member Assembly. Four MLAs have deserted the opposition ranks by giving up their memberships.

The Congress and JD-S have accused the BJP of poaching on their MLAs to shore up its numbers in the House, but the ruling party has hit back at the opposition, charging it with trying all means to topple the state government.

With PTI inputs

Vicky Nanjappa In Bengaluru