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MHA Seeks Report from Rajasthan Chief Secretary over Allegations of Phone Tapping of Politicians

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot. (PTI File)

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot. (PTI File)

The Congress government, embroiled in a political crisis in the state, has been accused by the BJP of resorting to "unconstitutional" methods to tap phones of politicians.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has sought a report from the Rajasthan Chief Secretary over allegations of phone tapping in the state after two audio clips of conversations purportedly regarding a "conspiracy" to topple the state's Congress government emerged amidst the ongoing political crisis in the state, officials said.

The Congress government has been accused by the BJP of resorting to "unconstitutional" methods to tap phones of politicians. The BJP has demanded a CBI probe into what it called a "saga of illegalities and concocted lies".

In a communication, the MHA told the Rajasthan chief secretary to send a report on the allegations of phone tapping. The official has been told to provide the details of the incident after two audio clips emerged.

The Rajasthan Police's Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) registered a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act in connection with the two clips of conversations purportedly regarding a "conspiracy" to topple Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot's government.

ACB Director General Alok Tripathi said it has registered an FIR on a complaint by Congress chief whip Mahesh Joshi.

The FIR mentions details of conversations of (Congress rebel MLA) Bhanwarlal Sharma with Gajendra Singh (Congress claims it is a reference to Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat) and a third man called Sanjay Jain.

The Congress on Friday had demanded the arrest of Shekhawat and Sharma. The BJP had described the audio clips as "manufactured".

Shekhawat has denied the charge, saying the voice in these clips was not his. He said he was ready to face any probe.

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra on Saturday said senior Congress leaders, including Gehlot, have been claiming that these audio clips are authentic even though the FIR registered by police does not say so.

"These are serious questions that we want to ask the Congress high command and Ashok Gehlot. Was phone tapping done? Assuming that you've tapped phones, was the SOP followed? Did the Congress government in Rajasthan use unconstitutional ways to save themselves when they found themselves cornered?" Patra said at a press conference.

The people of Rajasthan want to know whether their privacy has been compromised, he said, asking if phones of people related to politics are being tapped? "Is it not a case of veiled emergency in Rajasthan?" he asked.

Patra demanded an immediate reaction from the state government and called for a CBI investigation into this "saga of illegalities and concocted lies". He cited regulations governing phone tapping to say that it can only be done by authorised agencies as per due process of law and subject to approved safeguards and a standard operating procedure (SOP).