Bhubaneswar: Poll-bound Padampur in Odisha saw back-to-back raids by the Income Tax and GST departments on Monday just a week ahead of the December 5 assembly by-election.
The IT department raided the Padampur rown residences of three businessmen known to be close to the ruling BJD, while the GST department of the state government cracked down on on BJP-supported traders.
A 12-hour bandh has been called on Tuesday by the local traders against the GST crackdown on traders at Padampur, Paikmal and Jharabandha towns. One of those whose premises was raided by the GST department is Sunil Agarwal, the president of Padampur town unit of BJP.
The bandh will be held by the local traders from 6 am to 6 pm, Padampur Banika Sangha president Pratap Mishra said.
All shops and business establishments will be closed during the duration of the bandh. Government and private offices, schools and educational are, however, exempted from the purview of the bandh, he said.
The IT raids were conducted in the houses of traders considered to be close to the late Padampur MLA Bijay Ranjan Singh Bariha, whose death has necessitated the by-poll.
The BJD this time has fielded Bariha's daughter Barsha Singh Bariha as its candidate in Padampur, where a tough challenge has been posed by former MLA and Odisha BJP Krushak Morcha president Pradip Purohit. Congress has fielded its three-time MLA Satya Bhusan Sahu.
BJD has denounced the IT raids amidst the intense campaigning for Padampur by-poll.
Senior party leader Sashi Busan Behera said, "The IT raids ahead of the by-election is not acceptable. IT had all the time to raid any place, but unfortunately did so now".
BJP Odisha general secretary Prithviraj Harichandan supported the searches saying "It is unfortunate that some people are opposing the IT raids. Should the investigating agency probing into different crimes wait for the election to be over? The IT conducts raids as and when it gets confirmed information regarding irregularities." The IT raids were held with security by CRPF personnel brought from Chhatisgarh, police said.