On 28th March 2019, IT department conducted raids on some contractors, PWD engineers, businessmen and few other bureaucrats at various cities in Karnataka, based on credible information against them that they were involved in money laundering. Ordinarily, this would not have been a big issue. But the nation is now looking at the big theatre conducted by the coalition partners on the day after the world celebrated theatre day.
How did this become such a big issue? If some news reports on local channels are to be believed Karnataka CM got information about IT raids from a cab driver (on 27th March 2019 itself) allegedly booked by IT department for the purpose of these raids. Mr. H.D. Kumaraswamy assumed that the raids are against him and his family members. Why would he think that, is anybody’s guess. He promptly called a press conference and announced that there will be IT raids on him and his family members the next day. But the IT department did not only not raid HDK, but they also did not touch even a single Minister or MLA of the coalition partners.
HDK had prepared only for 2 eventualities, either to be projected as martyr if the IT raid did take place and he was incriminated or to demonstrate that he is a strong leader who scared a central agency away. This raids on unrelated people rattled CM’s already dwindling stock in the state as IT not only conducted successful raids based on credible information but also stayed clear of the political quagmire.
This has disappointed HDK terribly but he anyway went ahead with his planned protest. The printed placards, political workers from the different parts of the state descending in Bangalore in the middle of the election season point out clearly that this is a staged protest. HDK even issued a prepared statement questioning why IT raids were not carried out against BJP leaders like B.S.Yeddyurappa, Shobha Karandlaje, etc., completely ignoring the fact that IT did not raid a single political leader.
With its brazen dynastic politics and problems with its coalition partner Congress, JDS (Just Devegowda & Sons) is facing a very real possibility of drawing a blank in the present Lok Sabha elections. HDK thought this IT raid would be a plank on which to lift the dwindling prospects of the election of his family members. However, by not raiding any MLA or minister the IT department has already taken out steam from this Nautanki. People are questioning why are the coalition partners rattled if the raids are conducted against some unrelated contractors, bureaucrats, etc.?
Even beyond this, there are issues which HDK has ignored which will derail his ambition of becoming Mamata Banerjee of Karnataka. Unlike Bengal, where TMC could use anti-social elements against opposition party workers to silence their dissent, BJP has a much stronger ground network to organize a counter protest to this state government sponsored nautanki. Unlike in Bengal, where Mamata Banerjee is the unquestionable leader of government & party, Siddaramiah the Karnataka strongman in Congress is not part of this charade, thereby weakening the stand taken by the coalition partners.
So the best case scenario for HDK in this issue is if the Nautanki he has started fizzle out gradually without further ado. Else, this issue may very well backfire so spectacularly that the image of JDS becomes synonymous with corruption and guarantee a clean slate to JDS in upcoming Lok Sabha elections. HDK tried to become Mamata Banerjee of Karnataka but forgot Karnataka is not Bengal.