Karnataka Chief Minister K Siddaramaiah on Wednesday condemned the Income Tax department raids on state minister DK Shivakumar as politically motivated. Income Tax officials raided 64 properties linked to the Karnataka energy minister following search and seizure operations.

“I-T raids targeting my Cabinet colleague DK Shivakumar is clearly a political conspiracy,” the chief minister said. “The use of central paramilitary forces in an I-T search is condemnable‬.” The chief minister said the Congress would not budge under “such political blackmail nor stoop to vindictive politics”.

The raid happened at a time when Shivakumar was overseeing the stay of 44 Congress MLAs from Gujarat at a resort near Bengaluru. The Congress had put them up at the resort to prevent them from allegedly being poached by the Bharatiya Janata Party before the August 8 Rajya Sabha elections.

The department’s director general, however, has refuted the allegations, and said that the searches were planned well in advance. “The events involving certain MLAs of another state being brought to Karnataka were unforeseen and unpredictable events,” the director general’s statement said, and added that the media reports claiming that Rs 11 crore were seized during the raids were incorrect.

The statement added that only the minister’s room in the resort was searched, not the entire building. “The search team has no concern with the MLAs and there has been no contact with them.”

Income Tax department raids

Officials told PTI that the department was investigating Shivakumar for alleged tax evasion and undisclosed investments in real estate. Jewellery has been recovered from a teacher’s locker in a college in Bengaluru, PTI reported, adding that the locker was in the name of a relative of Shivakumar.

The Congress had created an uproar in both Houses of the Parliament earlier in the day though Union Minister Arun Jaitley said the raid had nothing do with the Gujarat Rajya Sabha polls. He dismissed initial reports that said searches were being conducted at the resort as well as Shivakumar’s properties, and said they were only being held at locations linked to the minister, not the resort, PTI reported.

In response to the Congress’ allegations that the government was misusing its power and using investigating agencies to target their party leaders, Jaitley said, “Whether it is a use or abuse, it depends on recovery [from the raids],” according to PTI.