Union minister Shekhawat demands probe into Rajasthan phone-tapping controversy

·3-min read

Jodhpur (Rajasthan), Mar 28 (PTI) Union minister and BJP leader Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on Sunday demanded an investigation into the alleged tapping of phones of politicians amid a rebellion within the state's ruling Congress last year, and said anyone found guilty should be prosecuted.

The episode was an attack on privacy of public representatives and the people of the state, the Union Minister of Jal Shakti said.

Talking to reporters here, Shekhawat said he had filed a complaint with the Delhi Police in the matter as he was targeted by the Ashok Gehlot-led state government and a case of treason was filed against him by the state's Special Operation Group (SOG).

'Surprisingly, a case was registered for treason against a Union cabinet minister accusing him of trying to topple the state government and (it was) withdrawn in 10 days,' he said, adding that the people and their representatives should know what dawned on the government during the 10-day period.

'Even after filing the case, many Congress leaders and ministers said that Gajendra Singh is not giving his voice samples. I want to ask in which case they wanted my voice samples while the case they have referred to has already been withdrawn by themselves,' the minister said.

He also pulled up the state government for admitting the phone tapping and legitimising it by stating that it was done in compliance with legal procedure.

'The chief minister, the chief secretary and the additional chief secretary (Home) had claimed earlier that no phone tapping ever happened, and now Parliamentary Affairs Minister Shanti Dhariwal replied in the Assembly that recording was done but legally,' Shekhawat said.

Defending his decision to file a complaint with the police, the minister said that since these allegations were an attempt at 'my character assassination and disturbed my mental peace, I wanted to have these allegations investigated and know whether there was any phone tapping or not and what procedure was followed in it'.

He also asked if this phone tapping was done legally, how did it reach the chief minister's office and how his OSD (Officer on Special Duty) accessed it and made it viral.

He said that he has been told by some police officers that the Congress dispensation had tapped the phones of its own public representatives to save its government. The phone-tapping controversy erupted in July last year in Rajasthan during a political crisis due to the rebellion of former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot and 18 other Congress MLAs against Gehlot's leadership.

These audio clips purportedly having a telephonic conversation between Shekhawat and Congress leaders had surfaced amid the rebellion by the Congress MLAs.

The Congress leaders of Gehlot's camp had then alleged that the BJP leaders were involved in horse-trading to topple the state government.

Referring to the state government's allegation on financial embezzlement in Sanjeevani Credit Cooperative Society, Shekhawat said none of his family members had ever been a member of the society and that the money he received was out of sale of his shares in the society.

'I am a bona fide seller of my shares and got this money legitimately. So how could I be accused of conspiring with the society to embezzle money of investors,' he asked. PTI CORR SMN SMN