A raging political battle is underway in Rajasthan between chief minister Ashok Gehlot and his former deputy Sachin Pilot.(HT Photo)
A raging political battle is underway in Rajasthan between chief minister Ashok Gehlot and his former deputy Sachin Pilot.(HT Photo)

BJP demands CBI probe into audio tapes released by Congress amid Rajasthan crisis

Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala had briefed the media on Friday about the existence of tapes where BJP leaders including Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat can be heard conspiring with rebel MLAs from the Sachin Pilot camp to topple the state government.
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By Smriti Kak Ramachandran | Edited by Meenakshi Ray
UPDATED ON JUL 18, 2020 11:06 AM IST

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday lashed out at the Congress and demanded to know if the phones of state leaders in Rajasthan are being tapped amid an alleged conspiracy to topple the Ashok Gehlot government.

The party also demanded an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the allegations made by the Congress in Rajasthan it has audio tapes to prove that the BJP was in collusion with rebel Congress leaders to bring down the Gehlot government.

“Is phone tapping not a legal issue? Were the standard procedures laid down followed for phone tapping? The chief minister should answer if the state machinery was misused and if there is a veiled emergency in the state,” BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said during a press conference.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala had briefed the media on Friday about the existence of tapes where BJP leaders including Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat can be heard conspiring with rebel MLAs from the Sachin Pilot camp to topple the state government.

Surjewala’s allegations were refuted by the BJP as well as Shekhawat, who asserted that the voice on the purported tapes was not his.

Patra alleged that there is a conspiracy within the Congress party and the blame is being pinned on the BJP.

“Our morality is crystal clear and we work as per the Constitution. Which is why we want a CBI probe,” Patra said.

“These are serious questions that we want to ask the Rajasthan Congress and Ashok Gehlot,” the BJP tweeted as well.

“1. Was phone taping done? The Congress govt in Rajasthan must answer. 2. Is it not a sensitive and legal issue, if phone taping has been done? 3. Assuming that you’ve taped phones, was the SOP followed? The people of Rajasthan want to know whether their privacy has been compromised. 4. Did the Congress govt in Rajasthan use unconstitutional ways to save themselves when they found themselves cornered? 5. Is phone of any person who is related to politics is being tapped?” it asked.

Rajasthan police’s Special Operations Group (SOG) on Friday registered two first information reports (FIRs) alleging a conspiracy to topple the Congress government in the state.

The FIRs came the party’s chief whip Mahesh Joshi lodged a complaint on Thursday night citing three audio tapes, purportedly of conversations detailing the plot.

Soon after the FIRs were registered -- with several charges including “sedition” -- the Congress demanded the arrest of Union water minister Shekhawat, rebel Congress MLA Bhanwarlal Sharma, and alleged middleman Sanjay Jain.

The Congress also suspended Sharma and former tourism minister Vishvendra Singh from the party and sought an explanation about the tapes.

HT could not independently verify the veracity of the tapes. The tapes were shared with media persons over WhatsApp from unverified numbers.

The FIR and the charges come in the middle of a raging political battle in the state between chief minister Ashok Gehlot and his former deputy Sachin Pilot.

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