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In a press conference on Saturday, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra lambasted the Congress party for making false allegations of horse-trading against the BJP and posed serious questions over the sensational phone tapping controversy. At the very onset, Patra said, “We are witnessing the political drama unfold in Rajasthan. It’s a mixture of conspiracy, fabrication, fraud and violation of law. The political game that is being played in the State is a mixture of all these ingredients.”
He continued, “The State government was constituted in 2018. After Ashok Gehlot was sworn in as the Chief Minister, a situation similar to that of Cold War ensued within the Congress party. Yesterday, Ashok Gehlot conceded to the media that there was a communication gap between the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister (Sachin Pilot).”
The BJP spokesperson then proceeded to pose serious questions about the phone tapping row that has now added fuel to the fire of the political conundrum in Rajasthan. Sambit Patra asked whether phone tapping was done at the behest of the Congress party. He enquired, “Is it not a sensitive and legal issue if phone tapping has been done?”
— BJP (@BJP4India) July 18, 2020
BJP accuses Congress of breach of privacy, unconstitutional behaviour
Sambit Patra asked whether standard operating procedures (SOPs) were followed while tapping the phones of people who are connected to politics. He added, “The people of Rajasthan want to know whether their privacy has been compromised.” The BJP spokesperson asked the Congress party whether they resorted to ‘unconstitutional ways’ while trying to save themselves on being ‘cornered’ in Rajasthan.
BJP demands CBI inquiry
Patra stated that phone tapping by a State government can be done, following a review by a committee chaired by the State Secretary. He emphasised, “Phone tapping can only be done by authorized agencies as per due process of law and subject to approve safeguards and SOPs.”
The Bharatiya Janata Party has demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into the matter. “Did the Congress tap phones? Were SOPs followed? Was the same treatment meted out to politicians from other political parties? There must be an urgent CBI probe in the case,” Sambit Patra emphasised.
Audiotape scandal and political drama
On Friday, the Congress party held a presser in Jaipur, claiming that some ‘viral’ audio recordings had been found which hinted at ongoing ‘dealings’ to ‘buy’ MLAs. Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala told in a presser that Congress leader Bhanwar Lal and Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, and another BJP leader Sanjay Jain were talking about bringing the Gehlot government down. On the basis of some ‘leaked’ and ‘viral’ audio clips, Surjewala claimed that Shekhawat was plotting with some Congress MLAs to get them to the BJP side. Reportedly, a complaint was later filed against Surjewala and Govind Singh Dotasra by a BJP leader Laxmikant Bhardwaj for making false accusations against the union minister.
Political crisis in Rajasthan
Speculations are rife that Rajasthan government may go the Madhya Pradesh way as the infighting between Congress leaders continue and Sachin Pilot reached Delhi on Saturday along with 20-25 Congress and independent MLAs. Following the 2018 Rajasthan Assembly elections, a power tussle ensued between Congress old guard Ashok Gehlot and youth leader Sachin pilot for the coveted post of the Chief Minister. Eventually, Gehlot was made the CM, and Pilot was sidelined.
The divide between the two factions, within the State government, seemed to have widened over time. The rebel Congress leader has told Ashok Gehlot that ‘majority’ has to be proven on the floor of the House and not in the back garden of Gehlot’s residence. Sachin Pilot stated, “If they have numbers as claimed, then, why not do a headcount? Take them to the Governor instead of moving them to the hotel.”