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Were phones of politicians tapped in Rajasthan? BJP demands CBI probe

PTI New Delhi | Updated on July 18, 2020

BJP National Spokesperson Sambit Patra   -  THE HINDU

Congress earlier demanded the arrest of Union Minister Shekhawat and rebel Congress MLA Bhanwarlal Sharma

The BJP on Saturday asked if the Congress government in Rajasthan resorted to “unconstitutional” methods to tap phones of politicians and demanded a CBI probe into what it called a “saga of illegalities and concocted lies“.

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra hit back at the Congress a day after it cited some audio clips to accuse some party leaders, including Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, of conspiring to topple the Ashok Gehlot government in the state.

Patra said senior Congress leaders, including Chief Minister Gehlot, have been claiming that these audio clips are authentic even though the FIR registered by police does not say so.

“These are serious questions that we want to ask the Congress high command and Ashok Gehlot. Was phone tapping done? Assuming that you’ve tapped phones, was the SOP followed? Did the Congress government in Rajasthan use unconstitutional ways to save themselves when they found themselves cornered?” Patra asked at a press conference.

People of Rajasthan want to know whether their privacy has been compromised, he said, asking if phones of people related to politics are being tapped?

“Is it not a case of veiled emergency in Rajasthan?” he asked.

 

Patra demanded an immediate reaction from the state government and called for a CBI investigation into this “saga of illegalities and concocted lies“.

He cited regulations governing phone tapping to say that it can only be done by authorised agencies as per due process of law and subject to approved safeguards and a standard operating procedure (SOP).

The Congress on Friday demanded the arrest of Union Minister Shekhawat and rebel Congress MLA Bhanwarlal Sharma after two audio clips surfaced pertaining to the alleged conspiracy to topple the Gehlot government.

The BJP had described the audio clips as “manufactured“.

Shekhawat has denied the charge too, saying the voice in these clips was not his. He said he was ready to face any probe.

Patra also insisted that the political crisis in Rajasthan is an outcome of factional feud between Gehlot and rebel Congress leader Sachin Pilot and noted that the Chief Minister has said that he was not on “talking terms” with his deputy for 18 months.

The two groups had been fighting since the Congress won the assembly elections in the State in 2018 over who would become Chief Minister, the BJP spokesperson said.

They have been in a “cold war”, he said.

Scoffing at the Congress’s allegation that the BJP was behind the rebellion, Patra cited Gehlot’s recent digs at Pilot and said the conspiracy grew within the state’s ruling party.

“The political drama unfolding in the Congress in Rajasthan is a cocktail of conspiracies, concocted stories, manufactured lies and illegalities... The sin was theirs. Conspiracies existed within the Congress,” he alleged.

The Congress has a history of “phone tapping and bugging”, Patra said, and referred to a row involving Pranab Mukherjee and P Chidambaram, both senior ministers in the erstwhile Congress-led UPA government, over alleged snooping.

Published on July 18, 2020

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