The Ministry of Home Affairs on Saturday ordered Rajasthan Chief Secretary Rajeeva Swarup to submit a report on alleged phone tapping amid the political crisis in the state, PTI reported. This came after two audio clips of a purported conversation about a conspiracy to overthrow the Ashok Gehlot-led government emerged.
On Friday, the Congress suspended dissident MLAs Bhanwar Lal Sharma and Vishvendra Singh after a purported audio clip of them conspiring to topple the state government with Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat emerged on social media. The Congress also demanded a warrant against Shekhawat. Shekhawat, however, rejected the allegations and said he was prepared to be investigated.
The Rajasthan Anti-Corruption Bureau has filed a case against the suspended MLAs on a complaint by Congress chief whip Mahesh Joshi, according to the news agency. A special police team has also been formed to investigate and the case. One suspect was arrested on Saturday.
BJP had on Saturday demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry into the allegations of phone tapping. Congress, on the other hand, had used the clips to claim that Sachin Pilot was involved in horse-trading with the BJP.
Last week, Gehlot had claimed that he had proof of Pilot being involved in horse-trading. “Money was offered,” he said. “And who gave the clarification that nothing was happening? Those who were themselves part of the conspiracy were giving clarifications. Our deputy chief minister and PCC [state Congress committee] president himself was doing the deal and was giving statements that no horse-trading was taking place.” Pilot’s supporters had hit back at Gehlot and alleged that even he had offered money to Bahujan Samaj Party MLAs to jump ship over the last few years.
Pilot’s rebellion against the Congress in Rajasthan has brought the Gehlot administration to the brink of a collapse. Pilot was removed as the deputy chief minister of Rajasthan and from his position as the Congress’ state unit chief on July 14 after he did not attend the second round of meetings convened by the Congress to discuss the political crisis in the state. Several Congress leaders had reached out to Pilot since Sunday in an attempt to resolve his feud with Gehlot.
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.
The power struggle between Gehlot and Pilot had been going on for quite some time, but the latest crisis was triggered after Pilot was summoned by the Rajasthan Anti-Terror Squad and the Special Operations Group earlier this month.
The SOG had sought time from Pilot to record his statement in a case of conspiracy and sedition registered after attempts were allegedly made by the BJP to bribe Congress MLAs to switch sides during last month’s Rajya Sabha elections. However, Gehlot had pointed out that the notice was misinterpreted, adding that a similar notice was sent to him as well.