Karnataka BJP, Congress Spar Over Coffee Day Founder’s Alleged Letter

Karnataka BJP, Congress Spar Over Coffee Day Founder’s Alleged Letter

Bengaluru: A letter reportedly written by Cafe Coffee Day founder VG Siddhartha, who was found dead this morning, 36 hours after he went missing from a bridge near Mangaluru in Karnataka, and addressed to board members and employees of the coffee chain, has sparked a war of words on Twitter between the state units of the BJP and the Congress.
In the letter, which has been accessed by news agency ANI, Mr Siddhartha alleged harassment by an income tax officer and expressing regret for not being able to create “the right profitable business”.

The exchange between the BJP and the Congress began after a tweet posted at 8.32 am today, in which the Karnataka Congress described the tragic death of the businessman as “unfortunate”. The party also alleged that Mr Siddhartha’s death was the result of “harassment by IT officials” and said it indicated a “virulent” fall in the country’s entrepreneurial circles.

“#VGSiddhartha case is very unfortunate. Result of harassment by IT officials & decline of India’s entrepreneurial position turning virulent by the day, with Tax Terror & collapse of economy. Companies which flourished under UPA have been shut down with many people being jobless,” the party tweeted.

Senior Congress leader and former Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah also tweeted, criticising “tax terrorism… ugly face of politically motivated institutions”.

“The death of V G Siddhartha is both disturbing &mysterious. The reasons & the invisible hands that ended his life in this tragic way should be unearthed through impartial &fair investigation,” the former chief minister wrote.

In response, the Karnataka BJP criticised the Congress and its tweet as the work of “opportunistic vultures” and asked the party to sympathise with Mr Siddhartha’s family members.

“Opportunistic political vultures flocking in full force totally disconnected from the emotions of family members of #VGSiddhartha. Investigation will reveal the facts behind this tragic incident. Until then respect the sentiment of masses & display some humanity if left with any,” the tweet read.

In the letter, which was posted on social media by ANI, Mr Siddhartha, 60, had said he could not take the pressure applied by a private equity partner.

“…I could not take any more pressure from one of the private equity partners forcing me to buy back shares… tremendous pressure from other lenders lead to me succumbing to the situation. There was a lot of harassment from the previous DG income tax… This was very unfair and has led to a serious liquidity crunch”.

The Income Tax Department on Tuesday denied charges of harassment, pointing out that his available signature was different from that on the letter. It also said Mr Siddharatha had admitted holding stash income after raids on his offices in 2017.

VG Siddhartha, founder of India’s largest coffee chain, was last seen on the bridge over the Netravati river on Monday evening, according to police.

In his statement, Mr Siddhartha’s driver said they were going to Sakleshpur from Bengaluru when he was asked to turn towards Mangaluru. As they approached the bridge, he was told to stop the car. Mr Siddhartha, according to the driver, got out and told him to drive towards the other end and wait there.

With input from ANi