Jaipur, March 15 : The Rajasthan BJP on Monday launched a scathing attack on the Ashok Gehlot government after it accepted phone tapping during the political crisis of July last year. It accused Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot of “crossing all limits and bypassing laws” just to “save his chair”.
Eight months after leaked phone conversations between a Union minister and Congress leaders in Rajasthan triggered a political crisis in the state, Gehlot’s government recently confirmed that phones were indeed “intercepted”.
The confirmation was posted on the website of the Rajasthan Assembly in reply to a question asked during the House session of August 2020.
BJP MLA Kalicharan Saraf in his question asked: “Is it true that phone tapping cases were done in the last days? If yes, under which law and on whose orders? Place details on the table of the House.”
In the reply, furnished after a delay of many months, the government said: “In the interest of public safety or public order, and to prevent the occurrence of a crime which might risk public safety or public order, telephones are intercepted after an approval by a competent officer under the provisions of section 5(2) of The Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, and section 419 (A) of The Indian Telegraph (Amendment) Rules, 2007, as well as section 69 of the Information Technology Act, 2000.”
“Telephone interception has been done by the Rajasthan Police under the above provision only after obtaining permission from the competent officer.”
“As per the provision described in Rule 419(A) and Section 69 of the Information Technology Act 2000, the approval of the competent authority is granted,” it said.
Cases taken on antitrust are reviewed as per rules under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary, Government of Rajasthan. All the cases up to the month of November 2020 have been reviewed, the answer informed.
However, details regarding the telephone numbers that were intercepted, and the time for which they were put under surveillance have not been shared and the answer remains limited in its approach.
Meanwhile, state BJP president Satish Poonia in his tweet attacked Ashok Gehlot and accused him of conspiring against the people of his own party.
In his two tweets, he also accused Gehlot of wearing a false mask of Gandhism and shedding crocodile tears for democracy.
“Those who wear the false mask of Gandhism and cry for democracy @ ashokgehlot51 Ji crossed all limits for the sake of saving the chair; They conspired against the people of their own party, but even tapped the telephone of the leaders of the opposition party in an unethical manner; indulged in spying,” he said in his tweet.
In his second tweet, he shared the media cuttings and said that “The government has accepted this in response to the Vidhan Sabha question. Now what will Gandhi of Marwar answer?”
Meanwhile, Saraf said that he is yet to receive a written reply from the state government.
The political crisis in the Rajasthan government was reported in July 2020 after recordings of phone conversations among Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, then Rajasthan Tourism Minister Vishvendra Singh, and Congress MLA Bhanwar Lal Sharma among others, were “leaked”.
Soon after, the Special Operations Group of the Rajasthan Police made them the base for an FIR against Shekhawat and Sharma among others.
However, Gehlot at that time denied the allegations and claimed that it was “not the way” of his government to tap the phones of Ministers and MLAs.