Haveri: Commercial Tax department officials have raided the residence and office of BJP MLC and former Minister R Shankar at Ranebennur here.
During the raid on Tuesday night, officials found various items such as sarees, plates and school bags, among others, stocked in large quantities, with Shankar’s photo stamped on it. They were allegedly meant to be distributed among voters ahead of the Assembly election, which is likely to be held before May.
Official sources said that the Assistant Commissioner of Haveri has been asked to check the bills of the items and submit a report to the state government. Tax officials are likely to file a case if Shankar fails to provide bills for the items found at the properties linked to him, they said.
Alleging that the raid was part of a conspiracy against him, Shankar on Wednesday said the items found at his place were for distribution to people as part of charity work that he has been doing for several years now, and has nothing to do with the Assembly polls.
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“I’ve been doing this charity work with my own money by selling my property. There is no ill-gotten money in this. I have documents and bills for everything. Without GST, no materials are sold these days, as you are aware,” he told reporters, adding that he has been asked to produce the bills and documents of the purchases within the next couple of days.
Expressing displeasure about the BJP’s treatment of him, Shankar said he had decided to contest the upcoming Assembly election whether the party gave him a ticket or not. If the party denied him a ticket, he would stand as an independent, he said.
The MLC also indicated that he was open to contesting on the symbol of any other party that would give him a ticket.
Shankar was elected to be the MLA from Ranebennur in the 2018 Assembly election from Karnataka Pragnyavantha Janata Party. He subsequently supported the Congress-JDS coalition government.
Later, he decided to back the BJP during the political turmoil in the state that led to the collapse of the coalition government, following defection of several Congress and JD(S) MLAs. He was one among the legislators who were disqualified following the defection.
The BJP, on forming the government later, did not give him a ticket for the bypoll, but instead made him an MLC. Shankar has also served as a minister for some time.
Commenting on the raid, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said all agencies had been given a free hand under his government. “There is no need for the BJP to get someone raided. Let him (Shankar) give a clarification if there is no wrong doing,” he said.