Amidst the political turmoil in Rajasthan, an FIR has been filled by the Special Operations Group (SOG) against Union Minister for Jal Shakti Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, BJP leader Sanjay Jain and rebel Congress MLA Bhanwar Lal Sharma on the basis of a complaint by Congress chief whip Mahesh Joshi in the audio clips case.
The Congress today claimed that the audio clips contained “horse-trading” discussions between Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and Sachin Pilot loyalist Bhanwar Lal Sharma, where they spoke about bribing MLAs and bringing down the Ashok Gehlot government.
Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala also released what it claims are transcripts of alleged audio conversations between BJP and a rebel MLA. However, the audio tapes were not played before media.
He further demanded the Rajasthan Government and Special Operations Group (SOG) to register an FIR and arrest the culprits as “plenty of evidence has surfaced now”.
“The Modi government and BJP are conspiring to grab power instead of fighting the coronavirus pandemic,” Surjewala said while reading out transcripts of the alleged audio conversations.
Meanwhile, the Congress has suspended MLAs Bhanwar Lal Sharma and Vishvendra Singh from primary membership of the party. The party has also issued show-cause notices to them.
Notably, Shekhawat has denied any of the tapes has his voice while another BJP leader said the tapes were doctored.
“The voice in the tape is not mine and I am ready for investigation,” the Union Minister claimed. He also said that he is not in touch with Jain and Sharma and added that there are many people goin by the name of Gajendra Singh in the state.
Earlier in the day, Congress leader Bhanwar Lal Sharma also claimed that the audio clips that have gone viral are “fake”. “Officer on Special duty to CM, Lokesh Sharma is trying to pressure MLAs by getting fake audios made as the CM is in despair,” he was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Meanwhile, Ashoke Rathore, ADG Special Operations Group (SOG), Rajasthan said that his team has been actively following the case with many proofs submitted by the ruling Congress, while adding that a case was also registered against Sharma and Jain. The official said that the veracity of clips is also being investigated.
Congress chief whip Mahesh Joshi said the party already had “subtle proofs” against the three accused as named in the audio clip. “We are going through the legal route,” he said.
A press note was also issued by the camp of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot late Thursday night claiming that the three audio clips are of conversations between the BJP’s Shekhawat and Pilot loyalist Bhanwarlal Sharma.
The press note says that the audio is of Sharma’s updates on the progress in meeting the set target of bringing in 30 MLAs into their fold and the purported voice of Shekhawat, on the other side, says that this will bring in the Gehlot government on its knees.
The person, said to be Shekhawat as per the note, also says that Sharma and other MLAs should stay in the hotel for 8-10 days.
After Sachin Pilot and the rebel MLAs gave the second CLP meeting a miss on Tuesday, the MLAs, who were reportedly present showing their support to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, had unanimously demanded that Pilot be removed from the party.
Following this, the Congress announced the removal of Sachin Pilot as the Deputy Chief Minister as well as the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief.
Two other ministers, Vishvender Singh and Ramesh Meena, who joined him in his revolt, were also dropped from the Ashok Gehlot cabinet.
The Congress in Rajasthan is witnessing a power tussle between Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his former deputy Sachin Pilot, who is upset since he was denied the Chief Minister’s post after the December 2018 assembly elections.
On July 12, sulking leader Sachin Pilot had declared open rebellion against his party by claiming that he has the support of 30 MLAs.
The crisis exploded following the night of July 10 when the Rajasthan Police sent a notice to Pilot, asking him to record his statement over an alleged attempt to bring down the government.