Opposition condemns move, accuses government of being insensitive
Searches by the Income Tax Department on the Adichunchanagiri Math premises here kicked up political dust on Friday with the Opposition in the Legislative Council, cutting across political affiliations, expressing anger over subjecting religious and charitable institutions to I-T raids.
Offices of four major educational institutions in the State, including that of the Adichunchanagiri Math, were searched on Thursday by I-T sleuths.
As soon as the House assembled in the morning, Leader of the Opposition D.V. Sadananda Gowda raised the issue and termed the searches “condemnable”. Pointing out that the math was running about 450 educational institutions, he expressed concern that such raids would demoralise the organisation.
He urged the State to tell the Centre not to resort to searches when it came to dealing with religious and charitable institutions.
“If there were any irregularities, the I-T Department or any authority could have conducted a probe into irregularities. But this method of conducting searches on the math premises is not proper as it would demoralise the organisation at a time when admissions to educational institutions are going on in full swing,” he argued.
He said the math had taken up several welfare measures for the poor even before the State government could think of them.
“We should be sensitive to the sentiments and the image of these charitable institutions,” he noted.
He was joined by all the Opposition members who stressed the need for adopting different methods, rather than raids, while dealing with the religious institutions. The former Minister and BJP leader V. Somanna alleged that the I-T raids were part of a conspiracy to defame the math that had substantial influence among people.
‘Need to comply’
The discussion came to an end after Chairman D.H. Shankaramurthy asked members to raise the issue only with due notice as per the norms of the House. House leader and Minister S.R. Patil too made it clear that the government had a lot of respect for the service being rendered by the Adichunchanagiri Math. “But we need to comply with the norms such as giving a notice in advance to take up the issue for discussion,” he said.