Bengaluru: The income tax raids on state’s Power Minister D K Shivakumar are taking different turns as days are going by, raising fresh doubts in the minds of people.
Though initially, billed as a conspiracy to pin down Shivakumar, the subsequent events have given rise to many doubts as a clear picture has not emerged post I-T raids.
The silence of state BJP President B S Yeddyurappa, who spares no opportunity to attack the Congress government in power in such situations to gain political advantage, has not only baffled his party men, but even opponents. BJP MP Shobha Karandhlaje, who requires no ammunition to fire salvos at opponents, has all of a sudden gone underground! Only Jagadish Shettar and K S Eshwarappa demanded the resignation of D K Shivakumar post I-T raids and all other leaders including MPs from state BJP remained relatively silent over the issue.
JDS Supremo H D Devegowda stayed clear of the issue by stating "no comments" understandably considering his own son’s position in Jantakal mining case. Fortunately, the High Court gave H D Kumaraswamy reprieve by granting anticipatory bail in the case and the recent reports suggest that he has left for Singapore for a routine health check-up.
D K Shivakumar, who appeared rattled on the first day of raids (August 2), was back with all guns blazing, once the I-T sleuths completed the 77-hour long search at his residence and of his relatives. The raids billed as "unprecedented" in state’s history considering the deployment of Central forces for providing security to I-T staff also left state’s investigative agencies wondering about their role!
Ahmed Patel’s survival to keep Sonia’s hopes alive and the role D K Shivakumar played to rescue Patel from drowning, keeping his political future in mind, has not enthused Congressmen in the state on expected lines barring those against the chief minister. The efforts of the Vokkaliga strongman will fructify only when he gets a major say within the party, which the Congress high command has assured to "gift him" in the near future with the assembly elections fast nearing.
Certain media reports indicate the seizure of illegal wealth in terms of cash and wealth, benami investments in real estate along with money in companies abroad exceeding Rs 300 Crore during raids at the residence of DKS. If those reports of unaccounted wealth exceeding the declared I-T income of around Rs 251 Crore last year turn out to be true, more skeletons are bound to tumble out of the cupboards in the future going by the statements issued by DKS post I-T raids.
The I-T raids have also cast doubts on the future of state’s investigative agencies. The premiere investigation agency Lokayuktha under Justice Venkatachala and subsequently Justice Santhosh Hedge lost the sting during the tenure of Justice Bhaskar Rao. The agency under Justice Bhaskar Rao mired in corruption resulted in the formation of Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in the state. After pulling and prodding over select nominees, the issue of appointment of Lokayautha was finally settled by the state Governor Vajubhai Vala by appointing Justice Vishwanath Shetty, to fill the post that had remained vacant for a very long time.
Justice Venkatachala, and Justice Santosh Hegde still remain in people’s memory, as they took on the might of the corrupt and succeeded in booking even those with strong political clout. Prominent among the Reddy brothers, Janardhan Reddy spending years in jail and former CMs BSY and HDK along with many other facing the heat in the aftermath of illegal mining even to this day display former Lokayuktha's commitment.
Raid by the state’s another investigation agency, Anti–Corruption Bureau (ACB) akin to I-T raids in all probability, is an "impossible task", considering the conditions under which it functions. Former Lokayuktha Justice Santhosh Hegde vehemently opposed the formation of ACB, right from the word "go" by the present state government.
Interacting with newskarnataka.com, he had said, "The ACB can never bring out corruption cases having far reaching consequences, mainly on account of the fact that it has to take prior permission from the ministry concerned/state government." In simple terms, if ACB wants to raid DKS, relatives like I-T department did, it has to take state government’s approval, which is unlikely in all circumstances considering the political fallout, Justice Hegde had stated citing similar example.
Being aware of the lacuna that prevails in the state’s investigation system, I-T officials opted for central forces to provide security to their own officials (CRPF) during raids without giving any hint on it.
This decision understandably left the state government fuming but those raids have seriously cast a doubt on state’s investigation agencies and their future. If the I-T department manages to justify its 3-day long search with startling revelations on unaccounted wealth by the energy minister, then it will be curtains down for ACB which does not possess the autonomy unlike Lokayuktha.
Even if ACB manages to book cases against few corrupt officials, its role will be under the scanner all the time with "Lokayuktha" in place. Though it was initially predicted that ACB would dilute Lokayuktha, in reality ACB is fast losing its own real identity. It is able to retain its position mainly on account of Lokayuktha remaining dormant for now, after many flip-flops on decsions over its continuity in the last 2-3 years.
Meanwhile, these are the doubts that have surfaced following the I-T raid:
*Is it the political strategy of BJP to woo Vokkaligas by going soft on DKS on one side, while holding him on tenterhooks on the other to achieve its "Mission-150?"
*If Income tax officials are going to swoop down without notice to act against corruption in major cases, then what kind of cases will Lokayuktha pursue?
*If ACB needs the nod every time it plans a raid, what will be its future?
The ongoing events leave many questions unanswered in the game of uncertainties, called politics, played out in public sphere.