The Income Tax department on Friday conducted searches at premises linked to Andhra Pradesh legislator CM Ramesh, including his home and office, NDTV reported. The Telugu Desam Party leader, also a Rajya Sabha member, is the promoter of Rithwik Projects Private Limited. The firm is said to have a turnover of close to Rs 1,000 crore.
Nearly 100 officials of the Income Tax department searched multiple locations, including premises linked to Ramesh’s relatives. Searches were conducted at 12 locations in Hyderabad, including his home in Jubilee Hills, and five locations outside the city, The Times of India reported.
“[It is] a clear-cut case of political vendetta, the Centre has been targeting our leaders from last 15 days,” Ramesh told reporters following the searches. “The same thing happened in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, West Bengal and now Andhra Pradesh, whoever is opposing them is being targeted.”
Andhra Pradesh Information Technology Minister Nara Lokesh said it was a classic case of political harassment. “They are targeting only TDP leaders,” Lokesh said, according to The Indian Express. “First Beeda Mastam Rao, next Sujana Choudary, and now CM Ramesh. People who are currently fighting for the rights of Andhrites are being targeted.”
He said Ramesh was targeted as he had been demanding a steel plant in Kadapa, which was part of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014. “The Centre has begun intimidation politics with Income Tax raids on Telugu Desam Party leaders who are being unduly targetted for raising voice against the Centre for breaking every promise made during bifurcation. We will not be cowed down by this. It will only make our resolve stronger,” Lokesh said.