Upping the ante in the escalating snooping row, the Congress on Wednesday said that the Bharatiya Janata Party should change Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate, as the saffron party rejected its demand for a probe into "illegal" police watch of a woman allegedly at the behest of his close aide Amit Shah.
The BJP said the matter involving the woman in Gujarat should be put to rest after her father did not want any probe. Countering the Congress demand for a central probe, the BJP said it was "politically motivated" and wondered why it was insisting on this when the matter was a state subject.
Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde indicated that security agencies were collecting information on the whole issue and if required a probe could be ordered. "We are collecting information on this and after that we will look into the matter," he told reporters.
Shah, the man at the centre of the controversy, refused any comment when he was repeatedly asked about his stand in Agra where he is overseeing arrangements for a Modi rally to be held later in the week.
"Yes, I always said that," Union Minister and senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal said when asked whether the BJP should replace Modi as the party's PM candidate in the aftermath of the snooping controversy. "Sooner or later it will be done," he added.
Sibal said the Gujarat government should order a probe even if the woman's father was not in favour of it. Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley said there is more political interest in the subject, rather than facts.
"Even after the concerned woman and her father are saying that security was provided on their request they are not complaining, but Congress is concerned about this," the Leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha said.
"The basis of the case is in itself wrong. Security and protection is not snooping," he added. Questioning the motive of Congress, Jaitley said, "Has this (Congress) government ordered a probe how thing were done in other cases? When the woman and her father herself was saying that this was the protection given to her at her own request for some specified reasons, then where is the question of probe in this."
Jaitley's party colleague Ravi Shankar Prasad said the matter concerned was under the jurisdiction of the state government and noted that the girl's father had no grievance.
BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said Congress should let the matter rest now that the girl's father has written to the National Commission for Women stating that the Modi government had made security arrangements for his daughter with the family's consent.
The father has also told the NCW in a letter that his daughter does not want any probe into the issue as there was no encroachment on her privacy.
Notwithstanding the letter, the NCW asked the Gujarat government to probe the incident.