The Congress on Monday renewed its attack on Amit Shah, a close aide of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and former minister of state for home, over allegations that the state police in 2009 illegally monitored the movement and phone calls of a young woman on his instructions, at the behest of one "saheb".
"State Sponsored Stalking akin to state intruding into people's bedrooms. Would u live in a society where state stalks your wives &daughters? (sic)" Manish Tewari, Union minister of information and broadcasting, tweeted.
"BJP claims lady protected at father's behest - Was the threat assessed? Why PSO's (personnel security officers) not provided? Why court ignominy of being the Stalking Sahebzada," Tewari said in a comment on Twitter Monday morning.
"This is a breach of civilised behaviour. This is not the way a state behaves," Tewari later told reporters.
"They (BJP) need to come clean on this and say whether it was an isolated incidence...," he said.
On November 15, news portals Cobrapost and Gulail released a report and made public tapes in which Shah is purportedly heard directing the state police to monitor the movements of a young woman and a senior IAS officer. The websites alleged three key wings of the Gujarat police were involved in this snooping effort.
The Bharatiya Janata Party blamed the episode on "dirty tricks department of Congress".
"Congress is scared of the popularity of Narendra Modi, so their dirty tricks department has become active," BJP leader Ravishankar Prasad said.
"Has the girl complained? Has the father complained? They are invading the privacy of the lady in question. Their political fortune is declining, this shows the desperation of Congress," he said.
Asked about the BJP's claim that the Congress is invading the woman's privacy, Tewari said that "it is a concern for the whole nation".
The Congress on Sunday had demanded that a sitting Supreme Court judge probe the allegations levelled against Shah.
Senior Congress leaders - Jayanthi Natarajan, Girija Vyas, Rita Bahuguna Joshi and Shobha Oza - said if the allegations are found to be correct, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi "does not deserve" to be the BJP's prime ministerial candidate.
"If government machinery is misused… Modi has no moral and political right to govern Gujarat... He does not deserve to be the PM candidate of BJP," Joshi said, addressing a joint press conference along with Vyas, Natarajan and Oza at the AICC headquarters.
"Can he violate the law by snooping upon every conversation of the girl? Can the chief minister be allowed to use the entire state resources to snoop and invade the privacy of one young woman even if her father made that request? It is shameful," Natarajan asked.
"Under what provision of the law was the Indian Telegraph Act violated? Who should be punished for these violations?" she asked.