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BJP, Congress spar over illegal snooping row

Last updated on: November 18, 2013 20:29 IST

The illegal snooping row intensified on Monday with the Bharatiya Janata Party rejecting Congress demand for a probe by a sitting Supreme Court judge and the ruling party

accusing Narendra Modi of heading a "fascist" set up in Gujarat under which a woman was allegedly ordered to be stalked.

The BJP said that the Congress has no authority to ask for a probe as the woman has not lodged any complaint in the matter. Questioning the authenticity of the taped conversation allegedly between former Gujarat State Home Minister Amit Shah and Indian Police Service officer G L Singhal, BJP Deputy Leader in Rajya Sabha Ravi Shankar Prasad said even Cobrapost --  which made the audio CD public -- has not vouched for it.

"Congress talk of a probe is all non-sense. Law and Order is a state subject. Has the woman complained about the matter? Her father has issued a statement saying he had asked for security for her. With what authority is the Congress and the government asking for a probe? Prasad said.

He said the "dirty tricks department" of Congress is behind the issue and sought to know how Cobrapost got possession of the tapes, which Singhal had handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation much earlier.

Dismissing the BJP's charge, the Congress suggested that the cap fits Modi as he has shown "unconstitutional and dirty attitude" by putting an illegal surveillance on the young girl.

Congress leaders Rita Bahuguna Joshi and Sobha Ojha said the Gujarat chief minister will have no right to stay in office if the charges in the case against him were found to be correct.

"What is being witnessed in Gujarat is a fascist arrangement where dictator is one -- the chief minister. He can kill any body and he can put any body under surveillance."

Two investigative portals, Cobrapost and Gulail, had claimed on November 15 that Amit Shah, the former home minister of Gujarat and Modi's close aide, had ordered illegal surveillance of a woman at the behest of one "saheb".

They had released taped conversation between Shah and an IPS officer to back up their claim, adding that its authenticity could not be confirmed. The Congress had promptly demanded a probe by a sitting Supreme Court judge to fix accountability and said Modi has lost the moral right to be BJP's prime ministerial candidate.

Prasad alleged that there has been a quid pro quo between BI and Singhal. "After this trade-off, Singhal was given bail," Prasad said. CBI had not objected to the bail application of Singhal in the Sohrabuddin encounter case.

The BJP said that IAS officer Pradeep Sharma of Gujarat cadre had taken this issue to the Supreme Court in which his counsel Colin Gonsalves said on May 12, 2011 that "neither he nor the petitioner has any intent to make the faintest allegation of any personal impropriety against the chief minister".

Prasad claimed Sharma had taken back all charges against Modi and wondered why the same allegations -- "which were rejected by the Supreme Court" -- are now being raked up.

Having a dig at the Congress, he said, "People had walked out of Rahul Gandhi's rally yesterday. I can understand the Congress frustration."

On its part, Congress sidestepped questions about cases against former Rajasthan Ministers Mahipal Maderna and Babulal Nagar.

"You are confusing the issue. We are not talking about individuals, but we are talking of misuse of power. Maderna is in jail in the wake of Bhanwari Devi murder case, while Nagar had to leave ministership following allegations of atrocities against a woman.

This is for the second day in a row that women leaders of the Congress have been fielded before the media to target Modi.

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