A war of words between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) broke out on Saturday over snooping allegations against BJP general secretary Amit Shah.
While information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari demanded a thorough probe in the case, BJP president Rajnath Singh defended Shah saying the Congress’ “dirty tricks wing” was responsible for stirring up the fresh row.
Condemning Shah in the wake of the controversy, Tewari said, “As we go about upholding constitutional values... dark clouds... loom ominously over the horizon.”
Two news portals on Friday had made public tapes in which Shah is purportedly heard directing police to put a young woman and a senior IAS officer under illegal surveillance in 2009, when he was Gujarat’s minister of state for home.
With Gujarat chief minister and the saffron party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi also being dragged into the controversy, BJP president Rajnath Singh said Chhattisgarh capital in Raipur, “There's no question of rethinking about our choice for PM candidate. We apprehend that the Congress’ dirty tricks wing will make such allegations... as the elections draw near.”
Investigative news websites Gulail and Cobrapost on Friday had played out to the media a series of conversations in Gujarati, which they claim were between Shah and GL Singhal, then superintendent of police in the Gujarat anti-terrorism squad.
The BJP president on Saturday pointed out that Cobrapost itself had said it cannot make any claims about the authenticity of the CD.
HT couldn’t independently verify the claim that the voice was that of Shah, who couldn’t be reached for comments.
The woman’s father, however, has denied that the Gujarat government and police had put his daughter under surveillance, and charged “vested interests” with giving a political colour to a personal issue.
“The girl's father has also given a statement that he had asked Modi, with whom he had family relations, for security for his daughter. The head of the government is responsible for ensuring the safety and security of the people. Modi was only performing his dharma,” Singh said.
The tapes also reveal that Shah also allegedly instructed Singhal to keep an eye on the movements of IAS officer Pradeep Sharma, who was apparently known to the woman.
The CBI, which, according to the portals, has the entire set of telephone recordings and Singhal’s statement, said the matter was under investigation.
“We are looking into the conversations provided by GL Singhal to see whether they form part of any conspiracy in the Ishrat Jahan case or any other case under investigation by the CBI,” a senior CBI official told HT on condition of anonymity.
But Congress leader Digvijaya Singh did not miss out on the opportunity to kick up a storm in Twitter. “Modi and Amit Shah use Gujarat Police to spy on an innocent girl! Didn't Gujarat Police and then Home Minister violate the Law of the Land?” he said on the social network site.
(With inputs from IANS, PTI)