The raids by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) followed by imprisonment in Tihar Jail, submission of charge sheet against Karnataka Congress President D.K. Shivakumar, have failed to “tame” the leader.
Congress leaders say that it is an open secret in Karnataka that the sole motive of the raids was to pressurise Shivakumar, a dominant Vokkaliga leader of the Congress. Shivakumar is often referred to as “bande” (boulder) in Karnataka politics. Congress party workers claim that the BJP failed miserably in its attempt to bend Shivakumar.
Congress party insiders say that after the raids and his imprisonment, Shivakumar has emerged as one of the tallest leaders of the community which plays a decisive role in elections.
If the Congress projects him as the Chief Minister, there are high chances of the Vokkaliga community rallying behind him as they extended their support to former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda’s family.
The ED had recently submitted a charge sheet against Shivakumar. The development was seen as a setback to Shivakumar and the Congress party in Karnataka as assembly elections are scheduled to be held in less than a year.
Reacting to the development, D.K. Suresh, brother of Shivakumar, stated that the development is politically motivated. There is no question of surrendering to the BJP.
The struggle of Shivakumar and the Congress will continue in the state. The investigation has been going on for four years. “Let them (BJP) do anything. It has been eight years since the BJP has come to power at the Centre. All institutions have been misused,” he said.
He stated that, “we don’t expect justice from the BJP. We are ready to face any consequences.” Suresh was the only Congress candidate to win in the Lok Sabha elections from the state.
The ED is investigating the charges of illegal money transfer against Shivakumar. He was imprisoned in Tihar Jail on the same charges for 50 days. Later, he obtained bail in the case.
The charge sheet has been submitted to the special court in New Delhi 30 months after the raids conducted on Shivakumar’s residence and offices in Bengaluru and New Delhi.
The raids were conducted by the Income Tax Department and after finding Rs 8 crores in cash at his residence on Safdarjung Road in New Delhi, the case was handed over to the ED. The ED sleuths after interrogating Shivakumar arrested him.
Sources said that Shivakumar put in all his might to save the Congress government in Maharashtra when the BJP was making efforts to install its government. Union Home Minister Amit Shah was the BJP president then. The rivalry between Amit Shah and Congress leader late Ahmed Patel was at its peak.
The Maharashtra MLAs were brought to Bengaluru and kept at a resort. Shivakumar was in the forefront of monitoring the MLAs.
He was also in the forefront of installing a JD (S) and Congress coalition government, which signalled the formation of a formidable alliance against the BJP after the 2018 Karnataka assembly elections, said sources.
Shivakumar continues to be on the radar of the BJP. At the same time all this has brought him close to the Congress high command. The grand reception he was accorded when he reached Bengaluru after being released from Tihar Jail was phenomenal and clearly indicated his rising popularity graph.
Surya Mukundaraj, state general secretary of the Congress Legal Cell, said that Shivakumar became an MLA at 26 years of age. Since then, he has been with the Congress party. He will not bend at any cost.
It is clear that the raids are selective. There are no scheduled offences under the IPC against Shivakumar. The money laundering case does not apply to him as the seized money is claimed. Why are there no raids in connection with the Maharashtra developments? questions Mukundaraj.
The ruling BJP is yet to give answers regarding the use of the Enforcement Directorate against Shivakumar.
BJP leaders maintain that the Congress party is a master in misusing the central government organisations to tame opponents from other parties as well as insiders. “It is a known fact how the Congress led UPA government misused the CBI against former Karnataka CM B.S. Yediyurappa and blackmailed him to form a new party and attain a simple majority. They have no right to speak about the abuse of central agencies.”