Congress leader Lakshmi Hebbalkar, a close associate of state unit president D.K Shivakumar, has claimed that she has received specific information that Lokayukta police and IT department are planning raids on as many as 50 opposition candidates and their relatives.
"We have learned that the BJP plans to target as many as 50 candidates or their relatives. I believe even my name is included in the list of persons being targeted. But then, such wrong methods will not succeed," Hebbalkar said while addressing a press conference in Belgaum.
Claiming that she received a tip-off on the impending raids from her well-wishers and informants within the state departments, Hebbalkar said that such punitive action by the BJP-led government will not deter her.
Hebbalkar said that such targeted action against opposition candidates will distract them from focussing on their campaign especially in the crucial few days ahead of the polling.
A Lingayat from Belagavi district, Hebbalkar is the Congress candidate from Belagavi Rural constituency from where she is seeking reelection.
A close associate of Shivakumar, Hebbalkar has been embroiled in multiple controversies including facing several charges of irregularities and corruption.
A little known figure in Belagavi sugar co-operative scene, Hebbalkar's fortune saw a meteoric rise after she came in contact with Shivakumar in the early 2000s.
Shivakumar has faced accusation of allocating G category sites belonging to Belagavi Urban Development Authority to Hebbalkar and her family when he was the urban development minister during tenure of former Chief Minister SM Krishna regime.
While her sugar factory and other businesses forays failed, Hebbalkar managed to secure the Congress nomination in 2013 Assembly polls from Belagavi Rural. She lost to BJP candidate Sanjay Patil. Despite the loss, she was elevated as the president of state women’s Congress.
With Congress party back in power in the state, Hebbalkar and her family members once again entered the sugar business by establishing Harsha Sugars Ltd in Belgaum with an capital of Rs 69.9 crore.
In 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Hebbalkar was fielded as party candidate from Belagavi Lok Sabha constituency but again lost to late Suresh Angadi.
In 2017, Hebbalkar was again in the eye of a storm after a local daily published details of agricultural lands purchased just two months before the e-tender was called to set up 1-3 MW solar projects. Incidentally. Shivakumar was then the energy minister of the state.
In 2018, several Congress party workers in Belagavi district sought the intervention of then Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to act on what they alleged were brazen illegalities committed by Hebbalkar. However Hebbalkar continued to grow in strength inside the party due to steadfast support of Shivakumar.
In 2019, Hebbalkar courted another controversy when it emerged that she and her family members started a real estate company Harsha Builders and Developers with a capital investment of ₹215 crore.
Hebbalkar's rising prominence in party affairs, thanks to her proximity to Shivakumar, was cited as the reason for exit of Ramesh Jarkiholi from Congress. With full backing of Shivakumar, Hebbalkar and her associates ousted Jarkiholi brothers from control of primary land development (PLD) bank in Belagavi in 2018. The election result triggered a series of events that led to Jarkiholi switching allegiance to BJP.
During an Income tax department raid on the premises of Hebbalkar in 2019, the official found undisclosed assets worth ₹162 crores.
Hebbalkar was also summoned by Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with the money laundering case against Shivakumar, when the later was lodged in Tihar jail.
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