On Wednesday, the Congress members disturbed the proceedings in Parliament protesting the IT raids against a Karnataka minister, as Finance minister Arun Jaitley told them to not relate the raids with the Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat. The Finance minister, Arun Jaitley, talked on the matter in both of the houses Parliament, also said that no search was led at the resort in Karnataka where Gujarat MLAs have been staying.
The minister, however, who had “gone and parked himself” at the resort, was taken from there for questioning, he said as Congress members loudly brought the issue in both the houses. On the other hand, they also constrained three adjournments of the Rajya Sabha and also staged a walkout from the Lok Sabha. The Congress members blamed the government for using the investigating agencies like ED, CBI and IT on them. The finance minister, however, said, “Whether it is a use or abuse, it depends on recovery.” Talking about the reality that the searches were being done at 39 other places and “not at this resort”, Jaitley said that the raids “should not be linked to the Rajya Sabha election in Gujarat”.
The senior Congress leader, Anand Sharma, raised the issue in the Upper House met today and said that an effort was being made to “derail and hijack” the elections to the Council of states and the searches were “targeted”. While questioning the timing and place of the raids, Sharma said, “Since morning they (ED and IT) have started the raids.” Ghulam Ali Azad, the leader of the Opposition, said that the Rajya Sabha elections should be held without fear in a free and fair manner. “But in this election (in Gujarat) all these three things are not happening. This is against democracy,” Azad said and alleged that Congress MLAs were being “kidnapped” as well. “Taking place today and not a month later or before,” he also questioned the timing of raids on the minister.
While reacting to them, the finance minister Jaitley said that the properties of a “particular” minister of the Karnataka government were looked. “In that resort where your MLAs are staying, no search has taken place, no MLA has been searched. A particular individual was to be searched. He has gone and parked himself at that resort. So the authorities, because they had to confront him with the recovery, they had gone to get him to his residence, so that he could be adequately questioned by the authorities,” the Finance minister added. Jaitley also said that the minister was being taken to his residence from the resort. The Finance Minister also added that the resort was not an area from where the Karnataka minister can get “immunity from the law”.
The Congress members, disappointed with the remarks of Jaitley, crowded into the center of the Rajya Sabha and started shouting slogans. After this, the house was adjourned for the next 10 minutes. Afterward, the house took up Zero Hour notices. The Congress members, however, again started raising slogans amid the questions hour. The chairman Hamid Ansari again adjourned the house for the 10 minutes and later till 2 pm. The senior Congress leader, Mallikarjun Kharge, raised the issue in the Lok Sabha, but Jaitley clearly said that the matter must not be related to the polls in Gujarat for Rajya Sabha seats. Kharge accused the government of using central agencies for personal benefits and said this would “ruin the ethos of democracy”. He also termed the raids as “a political vendetta and witch-hunting”.
Kharge said, “I appeal to the government, not to terrorize and threaten the MLAs. You will also have to face this tomorrow….. If there is any offense, then action should be taken, even if it involves me. You are resorting to this to defeat one person (Ahmed Patel) in the Rajya Sabha poll.” For the polls in Gujarat, Patel is the candidate from the side of Congress. However, the Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said that the searches were the part of acting against black money and corruption. He termed the allegations of Kharge’s as “baseless”. Belongs to the Karnataka, Ananth Kumar, also said that the state government had decided to hit a penalty of Rs 942 crore on the resort. He also said that Gujarat MLAs are lodged there.
“Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Ahmed Patel should explain this. They should come out clean on this matter,” Kumar added. Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi were present in the house earlier as well. In a reply to the Kharge’s allegations, Jaitley said that “Don’t link it with (the) Gujarat) MLAs, link it with economic offense”. “I have taken details from the income tax department and verified (them) myself. No resort where the Gujarat MLAs is lodged has been searched. Yes, searches have taken place at 39 locations involving a Karnataka minister,” Jaitley said. He added that “He himself went to the resort. As per the procedure, the person against whom the raid was conducted has to be confronted to take his statement. The officials only visited the resort where the minister was tearing off the papers. We have also collected these papers and done a ‘panchanama’.”