The Congress on Sunday asked Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat to give voice samples and called for his resignation to end the row over the audio clips amid the political crisis in Rajasthan, PTI reported.

On Friday, the Congress had alleged that Shekhawat and two rebel MLAs – Bhanwar Lal Sharma and Vishvendra Singh – were conspiring to topple the Ashok Gehlot-led government. It released the transcript of the audio clips, which surfaced on social media, claiming it revealed their role in the conspiracy. The party suspended Sharma and Singh. Later, the Rajasthan Anti-Corruption Bureau registered a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act based on the tapes allegedly revealing efforts at luring lawmakers with money. The first information report named Sharma as the one making the deals.

“If Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat is claiming that it is not his voice and the reference in the audio clip is of some other Gajendra Singh, then why is he afraid of giving voice samples,” Congress leader and former Union minister Ajay Maken asked at a press conference in Jaipur.

Maken added that Shekhawat has no moral authority to continue as a Union minister and should resign so that the investigation is not influenced. He also questioned why the Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states are not allowing the police to collect voice samples of the suspended Congress MLAs.

“Why did Rajasthan’s rebel Congress MLAs choose Haryana for camping,” Maken asked. “BJP’s role is clear.”

The Congress leader added that the Centre wants to stop the inquiry in the matter. On Saturday, the BJP had demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry into alleged illegal phone tapping that resulted in the audio tapes which has been touted by the Congress as an admission of the former’s involvement in horse-trading. BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra had claimed that the events unfolding in Rajasthan were a mix of “conspiracy, lies and illegalities” by the Congress government. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Home Affairs has ordered Rajasthan Chief Secretary Rajeeva Swarup to submit a report.

Rajasthan minister Pratap Khachariyawas told ANI that the home ministry’s intervention came after the Special Operations Group gathered evidence to prove that the audio clip is authentic. “Nation knows the chief minister’s honesty,” he added. “He had said if audio is proven to be false, he’ll retire from politics. After this, Gajendra Singh, Gulab Chand Kataria, Satish Poonia, Rajendra Rathore declared the audio to be false. Can they give a statement like [the] chief minister? Narendra Modi and Amit Shah should come to the front, they should say if they will resign. Chief minister has said clearly.”

Meanwhile, GC Kataria, Leader of Opposition, claimed the Bharatiya Janata Party never demanded floor test in Rajasthan. “We are watching their fight,” he said. “When the time is right and we have to do something, we will discuss and move in that direction. As of now, we are being unnecessarily dragged into this matter.”

The Congress government won back the support of Bharatiya Tribal Party, which has two members in the Assembly, when a delegation of party leaders handed over a letter of support to Gehlot on Saturday. The BTP had earlier issued a whip to its two MLAs to remain neutral in case of a floor test. The Congress had earlier claimed the support of 109 MLAs in the house of 200.

The political crisis

Sachin 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 flew to Delhi with a few MLAs. The following day, Assembly Speaker CP Joshi disqualified Pilot and 18 other legislators.

The dissident lawmakers 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.