The Congress on Wednesday said Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi had awarded government contracts without bidding to the woman who was later allegedly put under police surveillance at his behest.
Surveillance was particularly extensive during BJP leader Amit Shah’s time as junior home minister in Gujarat cabinet from 2003 to 2010. (Ashok Dutta/ HT)
Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil told a press briefing that Modi must come clean on what "benefits have been given to the woman's company and her family" and if he fails to do so the Congress will reveal the "evidence to expose the government's dirty deeds".
"The chief minister, who talks about everything, makes comments about somebody's wife, makes derogatory remarks about national leaders' illness, must come clean on this," Gohil said.
"How many works in Gandhinagar grid solar project and other government projects have been given to the woman and her family?" he asked.
The Gujarat Congress leader's remarks came hours after the BJP warned the Congress it "will have nowhere to hide if the skeletons in its cupboards are brought in the open".
BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar told reporters in New Delhi the Congress should let the matter rest following the letter written by the woman's father to the National Commission for Women, which states the Modi government had made security arrangements for his daughter with the family's consent.
"If personal attacks begin, Congress has many skeletons in its cupboards and it will have nowhere to hide," Javadekar said, accusing Congress of attacking the privacy of a family to target Modi.
Union minister Manish Tewari countered the BJP's onslaught saying the main concern for Indian voters was whether they should be voting for a person who backs unauthorised state surveillance on "mothers, sisters and daughters".
"There is a difference between surveillance and security. They are trying to fool people about it," he said.
Two news portals recently claimed Modi aide Amit Shah had asked a senior IPS officer to put the woman under surveillance in 2009.
Tewari told reporters in Goa his party will not demand Modi's resignation as "we should ask resignation from that person who has got some morality, shame and etiquette".
"If he had to submit his resignation he would have given it after the 2002 (Godhra) massacre," Tewari said.
It appears the issue will simmer for some time, especially after home minister Sushilkumar Shinde said security agencies were collecting information on the whole issue and a probe could be ordered if needed.
The NCW meanwhile asked the Gujarat government to probe the snooping charges, while asking the woman's father to come the forefront and clarify the matter.
The NCW wants the Gujarat government to explain whether due process was followed before orders were given to put the woman under 24x7 state surveillance; it has requested Shinde to institute a probe into the surveillance; while it wants the woman’s father to confirm the authenticity of the letter believed to have been sent by him to the NCW on Tuesday.
In the letter, the woman’s father says that his request to Modi to keep an eye on his daughter was done with her knowledge while requesting no further pursuance of the matter.
“We have sent notice to the Gujarat home minister, chief secretary and Amit Shah who was home minister in 2009 when the snooping took place to probe under what circumstances orders were passed, if it violated constitutional rights of privacy and whether state machinery was misused for the purpose,” Nirmala Samant Prabhavalkar told HT.
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(With inputs from PTI)