Officials of the Income Tax Department in Udupi posed as health officials spreading awareness about monkey fever to enter the house of Congress politician Udaya Shetty. The officials then proceeded to conduct an Income Tax search that continued even on Friday.
The searches were conducted at Udaya Shetty's house in Muniyal village in Karkala, a cashew factory near his home, a fish products store in Kota and another house in Perampalli near Manipal. The search began on Wednesday when income tax officials forced their way into Udaya Shetty's residence by claiming that they were from the health department spreading awareness about the outbreak of monkey fever in nearby Shivamogga. A vehicle with a sticker on the front which read, "Kyasanur Forest Disease - A Public Health Awareness Programme" was used to enter the politician's residence.
Officials seized several documents pertaining to Udaya business interests. However, they did not confirm whether they were investigating a discrepancy in the accounts of Udaya Shetty or one of his businesses. Officials in the Anti-Corruption Bureau in Udupi further confirmed that they were not investigating Udaya Shetty and the search was fully coordinated by the Income Tax department.
Udaya is a contractor by profession and manages a fish products store and cashew factory He is currently the District Vice-President of the Congress Party in Udupi.
The search by the IT department comes at a time when Udaya Shetty is preparing for a bid to become the Congress candidate for he Udupi-Chikkamagaluru Lok Sabha seat in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
Alongside senior leaders like Vinay Kumar Sorake and Pramod Madhwaraj, he is one of the Congress leaders being considered as the candidate for the Udupi-Chikkamagaluru seat. He was denied a seat from the Karkala Assembly constituency for the State Assembly elections last year.
Congress officials in Udupi however attempted to play down reports that the I-T search was conducted in an attempt to undermine Udaya's bid to contest in the Lok Sabha elections. "He is one of the aspirants for the ticket to be the Lok Sabha candidate of the Congress party from Udupi however these raids do not appear to be politically motivated from within the Congress. This kind of raid is usually conducted on people who own big businesses", a Congress leader in Udupi told TNM.