‘D K Shivkumar’s Arrest Is A Political Strategy’
D K Shivkumar. Image Courtesy : The Hindu
Karnataka Congress called for a bandh today (September 4) protesting the arrest of senior Congress leader, D K Shivkumar by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case. The arrest of the seven time legislator has resulted in protests across the state, with the protests in Ramnagar district taking a violent turn. Speaking to ANI, senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said, “As per rules whenever the Income Tax Department and ED called, he responded. He is cooperating. Is he absconding? Why are they doing this? Just to harass and mentally torture him. I condemn this.” The Congress is looking at the arrest as a political vendetta of the Bharatiya Janata Party government in the state.
Indian Express reported that supporters of Shivakumar burned state transport buses in Kanakapura and Ramanagara on Wednesday morning to mark their protest.
Shivkumar was arrested under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) by the ED in a money laundering case worth Rs 7 crore. The ED in September 2018 had registered the money laundering case against him and others based on a complaint filed by the Income Tax Department in a court for alleged tax evasion and hawala transactions worth crores. Shivkumar had filed a writ petition in the Karnataka High Court challenging the summons of the ED. Reportedly, the petition was dismissed on August 29, 2019. Following which, according to a report by the Indian Express, ED officials from Bengaluru and Delhi approached him with a fresh summons notice late at night on the same day. This sudden summon, the Congress is arguing, is malafide.
Also read: Karnataka’s Political Drama at Its Peak
Given the political influence of D K Shivkumar in the state, his arrest has raised several questions about the current political climate in the state. Is he arrested only because of corruption? Or are there any other political reasons behind it?
Shivkumar tweeting about the arrest said, “I congratulate my BJP friends for finally being successful in their mission of arresting me. The IT and ED cases against me are politically motivated and I am a victim of BJP’s politics of vengeance and vendetta. I appeal to my party cadre, supporters and well-wishers to not be disheartened as I have done nothing illegal. I have full faith in God & in our country’s Judiciary and am very confident that I will emerge victorious both legally and politically against this vendetta politics.”
However, such arrests are not new. Ever since the Modi-led BJP has formed the government at the Centre, leaders of various opposition parties, especially Congress, across the country are being hounded by the ED, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Income Tax department (IT). It all began with a corruption case filed against Congress’ Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh in 2015; and now P. Chidambaram and his son Karti; Bhupinder Singh Hooda, former Chief Minister of Haryana; Motilal Vora, former treasurer of Congress; Kamal Nath; Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, are facing the wrath of Modi-Shah’s government. Many in the state are also questioning the silence of the authorities in cases where BJP leaders are accused to be involved in the horse trading of the MLAs of the former Congress-Janat Dal (Secular) [JD(S)] coalition.
Why D K Shivkumar?
Speaking to NewsClick, Shivsundar, a journalist, political commentator and activist explained, arresting Shivkumar “is a political strategy of the BJP.” He said, “BJP has been very open about achieving “Congress mukt Bharat” (Congress free India) and as all the other states in the country ruled by the BJP, even in Karnataka, the BJP is attempting to delete Congress. Leaders like Shivkumar and Siddaramaiah have been actively involved in attempts to strengthen Congress at the national level too. So Shivkumar being the target is no surprise.”
However, Shivkumar does not have a clean record. He has an empire in old Mysore region. The activist told NewsClick that, in the diary recovered from Shivkumar, there are various names of the BJP leaders including that of Yeddyurappa’s son. “BJP has no strength of its own in Karnataka. They are solely depending on the charisma of Modi. Since Yeddyurappa is not popular both within the BJP and in the state, it seems like the central government is focusing on building new leadership by weakening Congress. It will not be wrong to suspect if the so called “grilling” of Shivkumar by the ED for the last four days was an investigation at all. It wouldn’t be surprising if this consultation is an attempt to force him to support the BJP.”
Shivkumar also belongs to the Vokkaliga community, which is a major vote bank of the state. According to Shivsundar, the BJP has two options, one is to marginalise Congress by keeping Shivkumar off the Congress, which would weaken the party in the old Mysore region; or get Shivkumar to support BJP. “However Shivkumar is a hard nut to crack. One has to wait and watch what happens now,” he added.
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