Odisha, Apr 17, 2019 : With less than 24 hours before the second phase of polls on Thursday, the Election Commission’s flying squad is swooping down on houses of political leaders, their vehicles and choppers, to check for unaccounted cash, allegedly being used by parties to bribe voters. Choppers and cars of three senior politicians - Naveen Patnaik, HD Kumaraswamy and BS Yeddyurappa - were checked in the last 48 hours. Raids were also carried out overnight at DMK leader Kanimozhi’s house in Tamil Nadu’s Thoothukud, NDTV reported.
Officials of the flying squad stopped the chopper of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, as it was about to take off, at a helipad in Rourkela today and scanned his luggage. The Chief Minister was seated in the chopper as election body officials inspected cases. The officials however have not said if anything objectionable was found.
Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy’s luggage was also checked by the flying squad as soon as his chopper landed at a helipad in Shivamogga district today. The Karnataka Chief Minister has been openly critical of the income tax raids. He alleged that the Prime Minister was running an "administration of fear."
"Why should I be afraid of I-T raids...the way I-T is working - is it right?" he was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
The tax men had carried out raids at multiple locations in Bengaluru, Mysuru, Mandya,Ramanagara, Shivamogga and Hassan, triggering strong reaction from Mr Kumaraswamy and Congress leaders in Karnataka, who accused the Centre of vendetta politics.
Mr Kumaraswamy hit out at PM Modi, referring to a box, allegedly unloaded from his helicopter at Chitradurga, during a recent visit. Opposition leaders slammed the election body for not looking into a video of a black case, allegedly unloaded from the PM’s chopper and carried away in an SUV. Opposition leaders cited the video, widely circulated on social media, and demanded that the election body must investigate what was in the box and whose vehicle was used to carry it.
The Election Commission’s flying squad conducted raids at former Puducherry Chief Minister, N Rangaswamy’s house today. The All India NR Congress (AINRC) founder was reportedly at home when raids were carried out.
On Tuesday, the flying squad inspected the luggage of former Karnataka Chief Minister and state BJP chief BS Yeddyurappa, at a helipad in Shivamogga. The Election Commission has however not disclosed what was found.
Earlier, the tax department had seized Rs. 1.66 crore in cash during raids conducted across Karnataka. On March 28, a total of 24 premises were searched by the I-T department.