While you stood in line for 100s, this minister stashed away 160 crores
The Congress government in Karnataka is under massive pressure to drop its Small-Scale Industries Minister after his large scale undisclosed income was unearthed by IT officials.
Ramesh Jarkiholi, one of the Sugar brothers of Belagavi, and Congress women’s wing president, Lakshmi Hebbalkar's homes were raided by Income Tax officials. The duo had admitted to owning over Rs 162 crore undisclosed income.
The raids also unearthed unexplained cash of Rs 41 lakh and 12.8kg gold and jewellery that was obtained after the November 8 note ban, an Income-Tax official said on Monday.
And as the Karnataka government hibernates on taking any action in the case, the BJP is demanding Jarkiholi’s resignation, and is alleging that corruption runs deep in the state government machinery.
Reacting strongly to the state government’s silence on the issue, BJP leader GVL Narasimha Rao alleged on CNN News 18 that the corruption went up to the Chief Ministerial level.
“Why has the Congress not demanded Ramesh Jarkiholi's resignation? It is obvious that the party has vested interests in protecting Jarkiholi. The corruption goes up to the Chief Ministerial level and further up to the leadership in Delhi,” he alleged.
“The money was being transacted through various benami accounts and this was used to fund election campaigns, which is why the party is not saying anything and is protecting the Minister,” Narasimha Rao alleged.
Congress claims ignorance, takes no action
The Congress’s absurd reaction of course is that corruption takes place across party lines. While the Chief Minister has claimed ignorance about the issue since the ‘IT-officials are yet to update’ him, a party MLA, Dinesh Gundu Rao lashed out at the BJP and said that the ‘BJP election did not take place without corruption across party lines.’
Targeting the Central government, the MLA called the Modi government “vindictive”, while adding that even BJP leaders were scared to approach the party’s national leaders.
“The I-T department has not yet provided clear cut evidence of illegal transactions or activities. The press statement said that Ramesh Jarkiholi and Lakshmi Hebbalkar had admitted to having Rs 162 crore unaccounted money. Once they provide proof for it, no matter who the person is, strict action will be taken,” Narasimha Rao said.
The I-T department, in its press release, did not give the break-up of the undisclosed income unearthed at the homes of Jarkiholi and Hebbalkar but said that both had business holdings related to sugar production.
The search also led to evidence of tax evasion by both the persons and that huge unexplained cash deposits were made in bank accounts of their family members and associates while benami accounts were opened in primary cooperative societies, through which money was transferred to business entities producing sugar, noted the statement.
Who are the Jarkiholi brothers?
No matter which party has been in power, the Jarkiholi brothers - known as the Sugar brothers of Belagavi - have ruled the roost in the district for over two decades.
The family members contest from different political parties during the polls and ensure that one of them grabs a ministerial post.
From arrack contractors, the Jarkiholis rose to become one of the most powerful families in the district and control its sugar production. The family holds three of Belagavi’s largest sugar factories and the construction of another one is underway.
Ramesh Jarkiholi, a four-time member of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly, represents the Gokak constituency, which has been ruled by the family for over 15 years. His brothers, Balachandra and Satish represent the Arabhavi and Yamakanamaradi constituencies in Belagavi as well.
Ramesh was first elected as an MLA in 1999 through a Janata Dal (United) seat in Gokak and since 2004, has contested the polls as a member of the Congress party.