There is consternation in the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) camp, with the Income Tax department and Enforcement Directorate beginning raids on relatives of Telangana ministers on Wednesday. A massive IT raid was on till evening at the Hyderabad offices, residences and properties linked with state Labour and Employment Minister C Malla Reddy, his two sons and son-in-law, on allegations of tax evasion.
Simultaneously, the ED is conducting a probe against the brother of the Minister for Backward Classes Welfare and Civil Supplies, Gangula Kamalakar. The ED is also investigating a brother of Animal Husbandry Minister Talasani Srinivas Yadav. Party sources said they expect several ministers and MLAs who own construction firms or are into real estate, education or liquor businesses, to be raided by central agencies at any time.
An angry Malla Reddy on Wednesday accused the IT officials, and the CRPF jawans accompanying them, of threatening and intimidating his sons Bhadra Reddy and Mahendra Reddy, as well as his son-in-law Rajashekar Reddy. “The BJP is showing its true colours. They have resorted to blatantly targeting BRS ministers and leaders by using central agencies. They know they do not have any political future in Telangana, so they are openly targetting us. We are not going to be afraid. We will fight back,” he said.
Malla Reddy runs a chain of educational institutions under the banner of CMR Education Society, in which his wife, Kalpana Reddy, is vice-president. He also runs the Malla Reddy Education Society, MGR Education Society and Chandramma Educational Society. There was no official statement from the IT Department, but the raids are allegedly regarding tax evasion.
On November 10, ED and IT officials searched the properties of Gangula Kamalakar’s brother Venkanna, at Karimnagar and Hyderabad. The brothers run granite businesses under the names Swetha Granites, Mahavir Granites and Arvind Granites. The allegation is that they evaded tax to the tune of over Rs 120 crore in the export of granite to other countries via Kakinada and Krishnapatnam ports in Andhra Pradesh. Karimnagar-based advocate B Mahender Reddy and Telangana BJP chief Bandi Sanjay Kumar had lodged a complaint with the ED regarding the alleged tax evasion in November 2021.
“We have nothing to worry about. All our transactions are on record and we did not do anything illegal. In fact, I returned from a family trip to Dubai to cooperate with the investigation,” Gangula said.
On November 16 and 17, ED officials questioned Animal Husbandry Minister Talasani Srinivas Yadav’s two brothers Mahesh and Dharmendra Yadav, in connection with alleged violation of Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA). The case involves Chikoti Praveen, a Hyderabad-based businessman who organises casino tours for VIPs to Nepal. The two Talasani brothers allegedly violated FEMA rules when they went to Nepal and gambled at a casino. “BRS leaders are not afraid of IT, ED or the BJP at the Centre. These are intimidations and targeted attacks on BRS ministers using central agencies. We won’t be cowed down,” Srinivas Yadav said Wednesday. “Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao had already warned us that this would happen. The BJP is very vindictive,” he said.
On Wednesday evening, BRS MLC and KCR’s daughter Kalvakuntla Kavitha hit back at the BJP over the raids. Accusing the BJP of intimidating leaders, she said the only policy the BJP preaches is “Ram-Ram japna, paraya leader apna”, riffing on a popular Bollywood song to hint at BJP’s horse-trading attempts, when it uses central agencies to intimidate Opposition if the lure of money fails. Kavitha said that if the BJP did no wrong, why was its leader B L Santhosh evading a SIT probe. “The BJP does not have any organisational strength in Telangana. Hence, it’s misusing power and money to threaten leaders of other parties to join them. We are the people of Telangana, we can’t be threatened. We’ll fight, win and always be there in the service of our people,” she said.
With the state inching closer to Assembly elections, Kavitha said more such leaders with mass appeal, ministers and MPs of the BRS are being harassed by the BJP.