The income tax (I-T) department on Wednesday (August 2) conducted a series of high-profile search operations at several locations in Karnataka, the last remaining big state controlled by the Congress, as well as Delhi related to the state's energy minister – DK Shivakumar in connection with a case of tax evasion.
Shivakumar is hosting 44 Congress MLAs from Gujarat who have taken shelter in the state to avoid the BJP's alleged ploy to allure them and break the Congress's house to jeopardise the chances of Ahmed Patel, the lieutenant of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, to win the upcoming Rajya Sabha election.
In all, 39 premises of Shivakumar and his family were being searched by a heavy team of I-T department with the aid of the central paramilitary forces, it was reported.
Whether it was just a routine search since it is the season of filing I-T returns or there is a serious gameplan behind the raids, there is no doubt that the raids will deal a body blow to the Congress in not one but two states – Gujarat and Karnataka – both of which are poll-bound within a space of time.
Congress should have safeguarded Karnataka, its last big bastion
The Gujarat MLAs taking refuge in Karnataka has given the opponents' strategy masters a big opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. While the erosion in the Congress's ranks in Gujarat puts the fate of Patel under question, the raids and recovery of the money from Shivakumar's place will also put the Siddaramaiah government in Karnataka in a spot of bother ahead of the next state elections.
Shivakumar is a very important leader of Karnataka Congress and the heavyweight Vokkaliga leader could also become the next chief of the party in the state and fill up the void which has been created by the exit of veteran leader SM Krishna who joined the BJP earlier this year. When Siddaramaiah is leading the party with aggression against the BJP by arousing sub-nationalist sentiments and targeting the Lingayat vote-bank, finding Shivakumar in a corner would be a solid retaliatory move by the opponent.
The Gujarat MLAs should have been flown to Kolkata instead; that would have won Congress an ally as well
The Congress think-tank should have avoided placing the MLAs from Gujarat in Karnataka as it has helped the ruling party's calculations. If the BJP's alleged pressure on its MLAs is indeed too heavy, the Congress should have taken them to say a state like West Bengal, where the ruling party is a staunch opponent of the BJP.
This would have helped the Congress to not allow Karnataka, which it badly needs to retain in next year's Assembly election, also land in the tussle and also find an ally to collectively accuse the BJP of indulging in politics of vendetta had the I-T department carried out a raid in a resort in say Kolkata. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee would have grabbed the opportunity with both hands to attack PM Narendra Modi and the BJP, especially after the blow the Opposition has received in the wake of the Nitish Kumar episode in Bihar.
The Congress failed to think smarter yet again and allowed the opponent to win the mind game.