MHA seeks report from Raj govt over alleged phone tapping

New Delhi: The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Saturday sought a detailed report from the Rajasthan government over the alleged phone tapping issue in the state, said sources.

The ministry has asked Rajasthan Chief Secretary to submit the report by next week over the issue after the Special Operations Group (SOG) in Rajasthan on Friday lodged a case against Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat for trying to destabilise the Ashok Gehlot government by attempting to offer money to the MLAs.

The development comes after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into all the aspects of the alleged phone tapping.

The Congress on Friday suspended two rebel MLAs — Bhanwar Lal Sharma and Vishvendra Singh — from party’s primary membership after alleged audio clips of a conversation between the two and Shekhawat surfaced on social media. They were allegedly talking against the Gehlot government.

Shekhawat, however, denied that it was his voice in the alleged clips and said that he was ready to face any inquiry.

In a press conference earlier in the day, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said the events around the unfolding of the political crisis in Rajasthan were a mix of “conspiracy, lies and illegalities by the state Congress government in the state”.

He then asked five questions on the alleged tapes made public by All India Congress Committee (AICC) General Secretary Randeep Surjewala on Friday.

“Phone tapping can only be done by authorised agencies as per due process of law and subject to approved safeguards and SOPs. Each case is also reviewed by a committee chaired by a Cabinet Secretary in case of Centre and State Secretary in case of a State government,” Patra said.

“These are serious questions that we want to ask the Rajasthan Congress and Ashok Gehlot. Was phone tapping done? The Congress government in Rajasthan must answer. Secondly, is it not a sensitive and legal issue, if phone tapping has been done? Assuming that you’ve tapped phones, was the SOP followed? The people of Rajasthan want to know whether their privacy has been compromised. Did the Congress government in Rajasthan use unconstitutional ways to save themselves when they found themselves cornered? And finally is the phone of any person who is related to politics being tapped,” asked Patra.

“We demand a CBI probe into all the illegalities of this alleged tapping,” he said.

The BJP’s aggressive stance comes after the case against Shekhawat and after the Haryana Police rushed to regulate the ingress of an SOG from Rajasthan at the Manesar hotel where rebel Congress MLAs loyal to Sachin Pilot are lodged.

An FIR was filed by the SOG in Rajasthan against Shekhawat and two others on the basis of a complaint by Congress whip Mahesh Joshi soon after three audio clips with alleged conversations on toppling of the Ashok Gehlot government were released by the ruling party.

The clips have recorded purported conversation between Shekhawat, Congress MLA Bhanwarlal Sharma and Jaipur resident and BJP leader Sanjay Jain while discussing plans and actions to topple the Congress government.