- Karnataka minister DK Shivakumar was raided by tax officials
- Rahul Gandhi declined to comment on the income tax raids on Wednesday
- Congress leaders have questioned timings of raids on Karnataka minister
But when asked to comment, the party's vice president Rahul Gandhi had none to make. Not today, anyway.
"I am going to Gujarat in two-three days. There, you can ask me as many questions about Gujarat as you want," Mr Gandhi, who is due to be appointed Congress president in a few months, told reporters on Wednesday. He had just launched two departments in the party, one to reach out to professionals and another, for the unorganised workers. And he was determined not to digress from the agenda at the impromptu briefing.
For other leaders of the party that Mr Gandhi leads, the Karnataka raids were all that they could talk about.
They questioned the timings of the raids, alleging that the action was meant to intimidate the Congress' Gujarat legislators ahead of Rajya Sabha polls in which the BJP is attempting to prevent the re-election of the Congress' Ahmed Patel, the Congress president's political adviser.
"Why conduct raids now? Couldn't they do it 15 days before? Or even 15 days after?" said the Congress' Mallikarjun Kharge.
In the Rajya Sabha, former union minister Anand Sharma called the raids an attempt to "derail and hijack" the elections to the Rajya Sabha. Leader of the opposition in the House Ghulam Nabi Azad said elections "should be held without fear in a free and fair manner but this is not happening in the Gujarat election."
Another former union minister Kapil Sibal reached the election commission with a representation alleging that attempts were being made to scare the Gujarat legislators. Mr Sibal demanded that the poll body ensure no coercive steps be taken against its lawmakers to "force" them to switch sides.
From early on Wednesday morning, tax officials raided about multiple locations across Karnataka and Delhi including Bengaluru's Eagleton Golf Resort where the Congress legislators from Gujarat have been staying since last week. They were flown out of Gujarat after six legislators quit the party over two days, three of them promptly joining the BJP.
The BJP has nominated one of them, Balwantsinh Rajput, as its candidate against Ahmed Patel in the August 8 election.
"The BJP is on an unprecedented witch-hunt just to win one Rajya Sabha seat," Ahmed Patel tweeted.
In Parliament, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has rubbished the Congress charge, insisting that the raids were "on the minister and not the MLAs" and had nothing to do with the Gujarat election. Responding to the allegation about the Centre abusing its powers, Mr Jaitley said the use or abuse (of power) would depend on the nature of recoveries". By evening, tax officials said they had found Rs 11 crores in cash.