IT raids on Samajwadi Party leaders in poll-bound UP are intimidation tactics: Akhilesh


Income tax raids on some Samajwadi Party (SP) leaders considered close to party chief Akhilesh Yadav warmed up the political atmosphere in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh (UP) on Saturday, with Yadav, who is on a tour of Rae Bareli, saying that the BJP was misusing the central agencies.

“The BJP too is acting like the Congress did in the past. Turn back the pages and you will see that whenever the Congress had to intimidate anyone, they would misuse the central agencies,” Yadav said in Rae Bareli soon after news about the raids on SP leaders trickled in.

Several teams of the income tax department raided offices and residences of the state’s main opposition party leaders who promptly dismissed them as the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s coercion tactics just ahead of the elections.

According to the information that is available, those leaders whose premises were searched included Jainendra Yadav, a close aide of Akhilesh Yadav. Vishal Khand’s Gomtinagar residence was also searched. Others whose premises were searched were the party’s spokesperson Rajiv Rai (Mau’s Sahadatpura premises) and a prominent contractor Manoj Yadav from Punjabi Bagh locality of Mainpuri, who is also believed to be close to Yadav.

“What else could it be,” said Rajiv Rai when journalists asked him if he thought the raids were politically motivated.

Income tax search operations are usually carried out on tip-offs about tax evasion.

“I am a leader with no criminal record. Yet these raids are being carried out. All I want to tell to my supporters is to maintain calm and give no excuse to the police to make a case against you on the pretext of disturbing law and order,” Rai said while blaming the income tax officials for “unnecessarily” delaying the entire exercise.

“I told them to go ahead with the exercise and do it quickly. If they want, they can finish all in 15 minutes. But they are delaying things. They told me that all my friends, acquaintances and family, including those in Bangalore, were under the scanner. But I want to tell them that I won’t be bullied and will continue to help the poor,” he said.

The income tax teams and their leaders weren’t available for comment and most other IT officers too refused comment on the raids that are expected to become the latest flashpoint between the ruling BJP and the main opposition Samajwadi Party. There was no reaction from the Bharatiya Janata Party or the state government on the issue so far. “We don’t know anything,” a BJP leader said.

Reacting to the raids, Samajwadi Party (SP) national president Akhilesh Yadav said: “Now, the income tax department has jumped into the election fray (from the BJP government’s side).”

Addressing a press conference in Rae Bareli before starting his second day of the Vijay Yatra, he quipped: “We were wondering where the IT department was. This (raids on SP leaders) was awaited. Now IT has come, soon ED and other agencies will come in. I had always been saying that as imminent defeat is nagging BJP, such things will begin. And they have begun. Anyone who takes on this government will be victimized. Look at Azam Khan (SP MP who is in jail for land grabbing issue), look at the farmers–what did this BJP government do to them?”

Akhilesh said: “Rajiv Rai is our leader. He is a spokesperson of the party. Why did the raid come shortly before the elections? Why did the IT department not act when he submitted his balance sheet and other documents?”

The SP leader also said that “socialism is Ramraj” and attacked the BJP over chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s criticism of socialism on Thursday. “The CM said that remove socialism, bring Ramraj. He doesn’t understand that socialism is Ramraj.”

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