Arun Jaitley told parliament that no searches were conducted at Bengaluru's Eagleton Golf Resort.
New Delhi: An angry Congress shouted slogans in parliament on Wednesday as its senior leaders accused the BJP-led central government of "abuse of power," questioning the timing of raids on a Karnataka minister, DK Shivakumar, that saw Income Tax officials visit a luxury resort in Bengaluru, where the Congress has kept 43 legislators from Gujarat to prevent defections before a crucial Rajya Sabha election. Union minister Arun Jaitley rejected the allegation stating that the raids were "on the minister and not the MLAs" and had nothing to do with the Gujarat election. The Election Commission has sought a report from the centre after the Congress complained to it.
Here are the 10 latest developments in this story:
Mr Sivakumar, who is being investigated in a tax evasion case, was picked up from Bengaluru's Eagleton Golf Resort by taxmen. He had been tasked by his party, the Congress, to look after the Gujarat legislators and so was staying there. Tax officials raided 39 locations in Delhi, Bengaluru and Kanakapura, 60 km from Karnataka's state capital, linked to the minister on Wednesday.
Union minister Arun Jaitley told Rajya Sabha that no searches were conducted at the resort where the Gujarat legislators are staying. "A particular individual had lodged himself there," Mr Jaitley said. When the tax officials reached, they found him "tearing papers". "Those torn papers and documents were recovered" and the "individual has been taken to his residence and is being interrogated, Mr Jaitley added.
"The use or abuse (of power) would depend on the nature of recoveries," Mr Jaitley said in response to the Congress' Anand Sharma, who alleged, "It has become a brazen trend to use state power and agencies, be the Income Tax department or the CBI."
Mr Sharma said the timing of the raid, days before the Rajya Sabha election and when MLAs from Gujarat were in Karnataka, was "questionable", especially since they were against Mr Shivakumar. Later, Congress' Mallikarjun Kharge made the same point. "Couldn't they do it 15 days before? Or even 15 days after?" he said.
"Elections cannot happen under threats and blackmails," said another senior Congress leader, Ghulam Nabi Azad. Rajya Sabha was repeatedly adjourned amid the Congress' loud protests.
Tax officials said Rs 11 crore has been recovered from Mr Shivakumar's Delhi home.
The Congress flew 43 MLAs out of Gujarat last week after a spate of resignations. Six senior legislators quit the party over two days, in a move allegedly engineered by local heavyweight Shankarsinh Vaghela to exact revenge after the Congress sidelined him and, according to Mr Vaghela, sacked him.
The legislators who have quit are all loyal to Mr Vaghela. Three of them have joined the BJP and any more defections could jeopardise the election to the Rajya Sabha next Tuesday of Ahmed Patel, senior leader and political adviser to party president Sonia Gandhi.
Elections to three Rajya Sabha seats in Gujarat will be held next Tuesday, August 8. The BJP, which rules Gujarat with a big majority, will easily win two seats and its chief Amit Shah will make his debut in Parliament from one, while union minister Smriti Irani will be re-elected from the second.
For the third seat, the BJP has fielded Mr Vagehla's close relative Balwantsinh Rajput to challenge Ahmed Patel. "The BJP is on an unprecedented witch-hunt just to win one Rajya Sabha seat," Ahmed Patel tweeted after this morning's raids.