Karnataka water resources and medical education minister and senior Congress leader, DK Shivakumar has landed in a soup even as the details of his paying unaccounted money to the All India Congress Committee (AICC) are coming to light. This claim has been made by the Income Tax department before the special court for economic offences.
The Income Tax department has claimed that the offending cash payments were made by V Mulgund to the AICC. The department has stated that on January 1 2017, Rs. 3 crore was delivered personally to the AICC by Mulgund on the directions of Shivakumar and Sunil Kumar Sharma, another accused in the complaint. Sharma is the proprietor of Sharma Transports that runs a fleet of luxury buses and provides transport services to individuals on a rental basis. On January 9, another Rs. 2 crore was delivered. In fact, the Income Tax authorities have accused the duo of regularly transporting huge amounts of unaccounted money through ‘hawala’ channels with the help of three other accused in the case. The others accused in the case are Anjaneya Hanumanthaiah, Sachin Narayan and N. Rajendra, who is believed to be Shivakumar’s business partner.
The department further alleged that DK Shivakumar has set up an extensive network of persons and premises between Delhi and Bangalore in order to facilitate transportation and utilisation of unaccounted money. The Income Tax department claims to having busted the entire network which was involved in transportation of unaccounted money.
Hanumanthaiah, who is also an accused in this case, works at the Karnataka Bhavan in New Delhi. It has been accused that he was responsible for storing and handling unaccounted cash sent by Shivakumar in Delhi. It is believed that he works for Sunil Kumar Sharma, besides looking after properties belonging to Shivakumar and Sharma.
The Income Tax department has, in unambiguous words, accused the Karnataka congress minister of setting up an extensive network across Delhi and Bangalore in order to transport and utilise unaccounted cash. He has been alleged of indulging in organised tax evasion as part of a conspiracy by engaging others. Raids were conducted in Delhi and Bangalore last August and unaccounted cash to the tune of Rs. 20 crore was recovered.
Shivakumar has risen to limelight as the last ‘resort’ of the Congress, both literally and figuratively. After the Karnataka elections, it was Shivakumar who detained Congress and JD (S) MLAs in his resort in a bid to ensure that none of the legislators listens to his inner conscience before the trust vote. He has been instrumental in coming to the grand old party’s rescue several times in the past also. Whenever the Congress fears that its members might switch loyalty given its waning popularity, it is Shivakumar who is pressed into service. Shivakumar epitomises money and muscle politics. In fact, in 2013, he declared assets worth Rs. 251 crore in his election affidavit making him the second richest minister in the country. By the end of Congress’ last tenure, his net worth almost tripled, and in his last election affidavit he declared assets worth a whooping Rs. 700 crore. In such circumstances, the Income Tax department’s action against him comes as a death blow to the Congress.
It is clear that rich and powerful elements like Shivakumar are Congress’ lifeline, even as it is facing turbulent times. However, it seems that the Income Tax department has caught hold of his ‘hawala’ network. If the Income Tax department is able to nip him in the bud, then it is going to not only deprive the Congress of significant finances, but is also going to be a serious loss of face for the family-run party. Even if the Income Tax department is not able to nail him by 2019 Lok Sabha elections, it is still going to build up tremendous pressure on the Congress which is already facing a dip in fortunes.