The Bharatiya Janata Party on Saturday demanded to know whether the Congress government in Rajasthan had indulged in phone-tapping, after audio clips surfaced of two MLAs of the ruling party allegedly talking to a Union minister, ANI reported. The party said it wants a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry into the matter, to ascertain whether there was phone tapping.
The Congress had used the clips to claim that horse-trading had been taking place, with the BJP colluding with the dissident Sachin Pilot faction in the Rajasthan Congress.
“The state government should answer whether they indulged in phone tapping, as the Chief Minister [Ashok Gehlot] and other leaders are saying that the audio is authentic, whereas in the first information report it is mentioned as ‘purported’,” BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said. “Is there an emergency situation in Rajasthan? Are all political parties being targeted this way?”
The Congress hit back, calling for an independent investigation into the BJP’s “nefarious activities” in Rajasthan. “Who is providing all this black money and where did it come from?” the party asked in a tweet.
Congress Spokesperson Pawan Khera alleged that while the BJP was trying to destroy democracy in Rajasthan, it was only bothered about why its actions were being recorded while it was doing so.
On Friday, the Congress suspended dissident MLAs Bhanwar Lal Sharma and Vishvendra Singh for allegedly plotting with the BJP to overthrow the government in Rajasthan, accusing them of talking to Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat. The Congress also demanded a warrant against Shekhawat. Shekhawat however rejected the allegations and said he is willing to be investigated.
The political crisis in Rajasthan
Pilot was sacked as the Rajasthan deputy chief minister and as the Congress’ state unit chief on July 14, after he rebelled against Gehlot and proceeded with a few MLAs to Delhi. The following day, Assembly Speaker CP Joshi disqualified Pilot and 18 other legislators.
The dissident legislators filed a petition in the Rajasthan High Court, which on Friday directed the Speaker not to take any action against them till July 21.
A Special Operations Group of the Rajasthan Police was sent to Manesar in Gurugram on Friday, to seek out the MLAs who are holed up in a hotel. Particularly, the team wanted to question Bhanwar Lal Sharma. But they were stopped and detained at the entrance for nearly an hour before being allowed to go in. The Congress cited this as evidence of a BJP conspiracy to destabilise the Gehlot-led government in Rajasthan.