Tag: IT raids in Karnataka

The IT raid that wasn’t on Deve Gowda’s family temple

IT_Raid

India is in the thick of the poll season. And arguably the rumour mills and fake news factories are busy churning out stories, which seem credible for a while, with specific targets in mind. Sometimes, politicians (or their strategists) come up with innovative ideas, such as manufacturing incidents, to make the stories more credible. Is the latest “IT raid” on the family temple of former prime minister Deve Gowda  a case in point for this kind of ingenuity?

This is how the story around the “raid” unfolded. Two IT officials swooped down on the residence of Prakash Bhat, the priest in the Shiva Temple at Haradanahalli village in Hassan district. Prakash reportedly told the media that the “sleuths” asked him to show where the cash was kept.

“They said they had information about a huge stash of cash kept in the cartons in my house. And they searched every corner for 40 minutes and returned empty-handed,” he was quoted as saying.

Incidentally, Haradanahalli is the village that JDS supremo HD Deve Gowda hails from. It is said that Lord Shiva (Ishwara) at the temple is his family deity and no important work in the family takes place without first paying obeisance to Ishawara God.

As the news started making rounds, the IT department released a statement denying the raid. “The attention of the Income Tax department in Karnataka-Goa has been drawn to reports in social media that IT officials have checked the house of the family priest and temple of a prominent political leader. No such search/ checking/verification of any sort has been done by the I-T department in Karnataka. It is unfortunate that media persons connected to reputed media houses are spreading such unfounded stories without any attempt at verification,” the statement said.

However, chief minister HD Kumaraswamy, son of Deve Gowda, lost no time picking up the “raid” and lashing out at the BJP for “hurting Hindu sentiments”.

“They have not even spared the sanctum sanctorum of our family deity, Lord Ishwara, during the raid. For this, the deity will decimate Narendra Modi-led BJP. IT officials even raided the priest’s house. HD Deve Gowda’s family has the grace of the deity, and it will destroy the BJP across the country,” Kumaraswamy roared during a poll campaign in another district, Tumkur.

JDS alliance partner Congress too jumped in to do its bit. The official handle of KPCC president put out this tweet:

Amid all the brouhaha, the local police said they were not aware of any raid. “Usually, officials inform local police about such raids as we provide security. We received no such information on I-T raids in any part of the district,” The New Indian Express quoted Chetan Singh Rathore, Superintendent of Police, Hassan, as saying.

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Why did Karnataka CM hold street protest against IT raids?

IT_protest
Karnataka CM HD Kuamraswamy, Dy CM G Parameshwara and other ministers and leaders holding a protest against IT raids  

People in Bengaluru, the capital city of Karnataka state, were witness to a never seen, never heard of incident on Thursday. The chief minister HD Kumaraswamy, along with his deputy and ministerial colleagues took to the streets to protest the raids, carried out by Income Tax officials, in some places state.

Kumaraswamy and his colleagues in the JDS-Congress government cried foul alleging political motives behind the raids, saying only the properties of those close to them were raided.

They asked, ‘Why now, just before Lok Sabha elections? Why raid those related to JDS and Congress only? Why none close to BJP is touched?”

Addressing their party workers they accused that the raids were happening at the behest of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who “is losing the elections”.

Chief minister Kumaraswamy even threatened to use the Anti-corruption Bureau (which works under the state government) to target the Central government and BJP leaders.

One may wonder why this unprecedented hue and cry over IT raids. If their supporters are clean with their account books, or have not stashed away unaccounted money, what was the trigger to hit the street?

The answer, perhaps, is in the following paragraphs.

According to reports, the Thursday’s raids targeted contractors who work on government tenders. The aim was to break certain cash supply chain used to bribe voters in the election.

What is this “cash-supply-chain”?

According to reports, money from the government exchequer was being transported in police protection every day and hoarded at certain places.

Thursday’s raids involved some contractors with links to Public Works Department (PWD), which enraged PWD minister HD Revanna. He said since his birth star is Swati, those who try to harm him would get destroyed.

Incidentally, PWD plays a huge part in this cash-supply chain, by virtue of huge budgetary allocations and the nature of public works involved. The modus operandi in the well-oiled cash transfer mechanism involves allotting tenders for fake and real works to contractors close to the power that be and releasing money for no work or incomplete work.

Later the money would be rerouted to politicians and distributed to party functionaries, who mobilise voters by bribing them in cash or kind and herd them to the polling booth on the D day. Sadly, this how sections of people still vote in the largest democracy of the world.