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Rajasthan govt admits to tapping phones, BJP says powers abused | India News – Times of India

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JAIPUR: The belated formal public acceptance of an Ashok Gehlot cabinet official that phones were tapped in Rajasthan has reopened old wounds and led the saffron party to give new life to allegations about Congress misusing government machinery.
Union Jal Shakti minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, who had been accused of trying to topple the Gehlot government in July 2020 in connivance with Congress MLA Bhanwarlal Sharma, took the first swipe at the CM. “Gehlot acted like a saint while reacting to the allegations then. He should respond on the issue now. He has misused the government machinery to settle the power struggle within his party,” the BJP veteran said.
State BJP president Satish Poonia demanded a CBI inquiry into the phone-tapping row, claiming the government’s official response to BJP MLA Kalicharan Saraf’s question contradicts the denials of CM Gehlot, the then chief secretary and subsequent officers that anyone’s phone had been tapped.
The belated reply to Saraf’s August 2020 question in the assembly does not mention that the phones of any public representative — MLAs and MPs — had ever been tapped. Neither does it mention numbers or names of people whose phones had been “intercepted”.
“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,” it states. “Interception cases are reviewed as per rules under the chairmanship of the chief secretary of Rajasthan. All cases up to November 2020 have been reviewed.”
The question posed by Saraf was fairly specific, relating to the time period when the Ashok Gehlot government was facing a rebellion by deputy CM Sachin Pilot, and the state government’s reply has set off a fresh political row as there had been widespread speculation about phone tapping.
The controversy has raised concerns in Congress whether this dilutes the party’s campaign against the Centre for “misusing” central agencies.

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