The Congress on Sunday said Gajendra Singh Shekhawat must step down as the Union minister so that he cannot interfere in any investigation into the leaked audiotapes in which the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader is allegedly heard conspiring to topple the Rajasthan government.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala had briefed the media on Friday about the existence of the tapes where BJP leaders, including Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, can be heard conspiring with rebel MLAs from the Sachin Pilot camp to topple the Ashok Gehlot-led government.
Surjewala’s allegations were refuted by Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, who represents Jodhpur in Parliament. He has also demanded a probe to verify the authenticity of the audiotapes that have gone viral on social media.
The BJP has also dismissed the tapes as “manufactured” by the Congress, which was “frustrated at its inability to keep its house in order”.
On Sunday, senior Congress leader Ajay Maken shot five questions as well as the demand for Gajendra Singh Shekhawat’s removal or resignation. Maken also asked the Union water minister to come forward and give his voice sample to end the row over audio clips.
“Now that Gajendra Singh Shekhawat has been named in the FIR and his voice in the audiotape has been recognised by people who know him, why is he holding the post of a Union minister?” Ajay Maken asked during a press conference in Jaipur.
“I heard that he is saying that the voice in the audiotape is not his but of another Gajendra Singh. If it is so, he should give his voice sample and step down from the post until the probe is completed,” Maken added.
Maken also shot other questions at the BJP, asking why Bhanwarlal Sharma and Vishwendra Singh, rebel Congress MLA and former minister of the Gehlot cabinet respectively, are being stopped from giving their voice samples.
He also questioned whether other big leaders of the central government are involved and why it is the party trying to suppress the names by conducting a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The BJP had on Saturday demanded a probe by CBI into what it called a “saga of illegalities and concocted lies” and wondered whether the state adopted “unconstitutional” methods to tap into the phones of politicians.
Ajay Maken also said that the BJP should also talk about the source of the black money when it is talking about bribing leader withs Rs 25-35 crore.
The senior Congress leader also asked why are the rebel leaders in Pilot’s camp are being given protection and being forced if the BJP has no role. He also questioned the role of the Centre, the Haryana government, income tax department, Enforcement Directorate and the Delhi Police.
Rajasthan Police’s Special Operations Group (SOG) on Friday registered two first information reports alleging a conspiracy to topple the Congress government in the state after the party’s chief whip Mahesh Joshi lodged a complaint on Thursday night citing three audiotapes, purportedly of conversations detailing the plot.
The FIR and the charges come in the middle of a raging political battle in the state between Gehlot and his former deputy Sachin Pilot, who was also the president of the party’s state unit until he was divested of both posts by the Congress on Tuesday.
Gehlot, who has the support of at least 101 MLAs in the 200-member assembly, has blamed Pilot of conspiring with the BJP to bring down his government.
Pilot, who has at least 21 MLAs supporting him and are at the ITC Grand Bharat in Manesar, has maintained he and his allies are only opposed to Gehlot’s “dictatorial” ways and have nothing to do with the BJP.