Gehlot’s counter came on a day when BJP legislator Madan Dilawar was suspended from the House for a week for alleged misbehaviour when his party was demanding a debate on the issue.
The CM claimed squabbling within BJP was the reason behind the resurgence of a non-issue, more so after he had long contested charges of phone-tapping and said on record that “it is not the tradition of the state to tap phones of MLA and MPs illegally”. He released a statement in which he categorically said that “it (phone-tapping) has never happened in Rajasthan”.
‘BJP’s claims don’t hold true’
“This is a fight of domination within BJP ranks,” Gehlot said in his rejoinder on FB. “The issue is being unnecessarily raised, and it is being done to disturb the house.”
The embers of the phonetapping debate were reignited by the state administration’s official reply to an August 2020 question by BJP MLA Kalicharan Saraf in the assembly belatedly appearing on the assembly’s portal. The reply states that phone calls had been “intercepted” by the police “after obtaining permission from the competent officer”. This was done “in the interest of public safety or public order”, the reply mentions.
BJP has since accused Gehlot of lying in the assembly about not tapping phones and demanded a CBI inquiry.
On BJP’s allegation about Congress resorting to phonetapping to save the Gehlot government in the face of a Sachin Pilot-led revolt, the CM said, “BJP’s claims don’t hold true. The chief secretary or the home secretary, all of them have to do their job legally. Surveillance is done in accordance with rules and regulations.”
Gehlot said the onus was on BJP to come out with definite proof about whose phones were tapped and why. “If these allegations are proved, I will leave politics,” he said.
In the assembly on Tuesday, suspended MLA Dilawar allegedly shouted down Independent legislator Sanyam Lodha, who had been speaking on demands for grants for education,, to demand a debate on the phone-tapping episode.
After Lodha objected to Dilawar’s behaviour, Speaker C P Joshi warned the BJP MLA to back down. When Dilawar allegedly did not pay heed, Joshi asked parliamentary affairs minister Shanti Dhariwal to bring a motion to suspend the legislator. The motion to suspend Dilawar from the House for seven days was passed by a voice vote. When assembly marshals removed the suspended member, BJP MLAs formed a human chain around their colleague. A scuffle ensued, following which the Speaker adjourned the House for 30 minutes, the fourth adjournment of the day.