The Congress on Saturday criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party for accusing it of tapping phones, and called for an independent investigation into the saffron party’s “nefarious activities” in Rajasthan. “Every day, a new layer comes out exposing the direct links of the BJP in creating some kind of a crisis [in the state],” party spokesperson Pawan Khera said.
The BJP has demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry to check whether the Congress government in the state had indulged in phone-tapping, after audio clips surfaced of two MLAs of the ruling party allegedly talking to a Union minister. 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.
In a press briefing, Khera alleged that while the BJP has now admitted to its role in the “murder of democracy” in Rajasthan, it was only bothered about why its actions were being recorded while it was doing so. “We all witnessed, over the last week, the daylight murder of democracy being attempted by BJP in Rajasthan,” he said.
Khera said “it is like a murderer saying that the witness who saw me committing the murder and who went an informed the police.. didn’t he violate my privacy when he peeped into the room when I was committing the crime.”
“The BJP officially misused its machinery in [Chief Minister Manohar Lal] Khattar’s Haryana to thwart an open investigation into the matter,” Khera alleged. “The track record of BJP in Rajasthan, Haryana convinces us that we cannot allow BJP to kidnap our MLAs and let them create a crisis in the state.”
Khera wondered why Sachin Pilot trusted the Haryana government more than the Rajasthan government. “What is the reason that on one hand, celebrated lawyers of the BJP are proving in the court that these MLAs are in the Congress, and on the other hand, they take protection from the Haryana Police?” Khera asked referring to Pilot’s plea in the Rajasthan High Court against disqualification as MLA.
Khera also claimed that the dissident MLAs escaped from the hotel in Gurugram when the police reached there to take their voice samples. The Congress spokesperson alleged that there were rumours that the legislators will be taken to BJP-ruled Karnataka.
Mayawati calls for President’s rule in Rajasthan
Meanwhile, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati accused Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot of acting illegally and called for the imposition of the President’s rule in the state.
“Rajasthan Chief Minister first violated the anti-defection law and betrayed the BSP by admitting its MLAs into the Congress,” she tweeted. “And now he apparently made another illegal decision by tapping phones. The Governor of Rajasthan should take effective cognizance of the continuing political deadlock, mutual disturbance and instability in the government and recommend imposition of President’s rule in the state so save democracy.”
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 legislator once again hit out at the Congress on Saturday and said the MLA’s at Fairmont Hotel in Rajasthan were doing everything except for serving the public of the state. “This is Gehlot-led government’s special fencing arrangements,” he tweeted. “Play, dance, sing, cook, eat... But working for the poor people of Rajasthan is not allowed.”
Former Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, meanwhile, said it was unfortunate that the people of Rajasthan have to “bear the brunt of the infighting in the Congress,” ANI reported. “They are attempting to put the blame on the BJP,” she said.
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 next 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.