Accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party of a political witch hunt, former Union Minister and TDP MP CM Ramesh said that the Centre was exploiting independent agencies and targeting the opposition party.
A 60-member team of IT officials raided his residence and offices in Kadapa, Delhi and Hyderabad on Friday morning. Angered by this, Ramesh said that the Centre had targeted him because he had issued notices to the Income Tax Department to furnish details about recent IT raids.
Three days ago, Ramesh, who is a Public Accounts Committee member, sought details from the IT department pertaining to its raids across the country. He specifically wanted information on the IT raids in Andhra Pradesh.
Ramesh alleged that the IT agency had targeted him because he had questioned them. He further asked how the agency could search his residence in his absence since Ramesh was in New Delhi at the time.
Ramesh said that he pays his taxes and his company’s accounts are transparent.
TDP leaders rushed to support Ramesh, noting that the BJP was scared of the former union minister and wanted to silence and intimidate him through the raids. Ramesh had questioned the BJP on its alleged injustice to the state, they said, adding that he also went on a hunger strike demanding a steel plant in Kadapa.
The TDP leaders said that the raids by ED officials on Rajya Sabha MP Y Sujana Chowdary and IT raids on TDP senior leader Beeda Masthan Rao were part of the elaborate vindictive plan under ‘Operation Garuda’ orchestrated by the BJP, a theory first put forward by Telugu actor Sivaji, who was earlier with the BJP.
Taking to Twitter, in a series of tweets, Minister of IT, Nara Lokesh lambasted the Centre for allegedly targeting them. He said that the Prime Minister has been taking revenge against them because they have been fighting for Special Category Status and other promises denied by the Centre.
దీక్ష చేసి ఈ రోజుకి వంద రోజులు పూర్తయ్యింది అయినా కేంద్రంలో చలనం లేదు. ఆంధ్రప్రదేశ్ కి పెట్టుబడులు రాకుండా చెయ్యాలి అని మోడీ రాష్ట్రంలోని పారిశ్రామికవేత్తలు, పరిశ్రమల పై ఐటీ దాడులు చేయిస్తున్నారు. ఎన్ని ఇబ్బందులు పెట్టినా హోదా సాధనలో వెన్నక్కి తగ్గేది లేదు.— Lokesh Nara (@naralokesh) October 12, 2018
“As part of Operation Garuda this is an attack on the people of Andhra. Because we questioned about Special Category Status along 18 other promises, Modi is taking a revenge on Andhra Pradesh. The other day it was Beeda Masthan Rao, yesterday Sujana Chowdary and today it is CM Ramesh. The IT raids on Ramesh are happening because he fought for Andhra’s right for Kadapa Steel plant.”
Lokesh further alleged that Prime Minister Modi is stopping the investments in the state by carrying out raids against industrialists and industries in the state. He said that the gift awarded by Modi for the 100-day strike of CM Ramesh was IT raids, which people of Andhra would forget and give a befitting reply for their intimidatory tactics.
“The Centre has begun intimidation politics with IT raids on party leaders Mastan Rao garu, Sujana garu and now CM Ramesh garu . TDP leaders are being unduly targeted for raising voice against the Centre for breaking every promise made during bifurcation.” (sic) he wrote.
The Centre has begun intimidation politics with IT raids on party leaders Mastan Rao garu, Sujana garu and now CM Ramesh garu . TDP leaders are being unduly targeted for raising voice against the Centre for breaking every promise made during bifurcation.— Lokesh Nara (@naralokesh) October 12, 2018
However, the BJP was quick to deny the claims made by Lokesh and the TDP, BJP leader GVL Narasimha Rao said that it was a regular routine by the IT department to conduct raids against those who evade tax. He said that it was not a political vendetta by the BJP.
He alleged that the TDP is spreading such allegation only to cover up their mistakes and fearing that their party’s image would take a dent.