Two days after The Indian Express reported that the PMO has received a complaint that the Essar Group allegedly tapped telephones of several VVIPs, including Cabinet ministers, between 2001 and 2006, the Congress Saturday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to tell the country what action he has taken on the complaint, and whether he has ordered an inquiry.
“We would like to ask the Prime Minister certain questions. Is it a fact that a complaint was submitted to your office? Has the Prime Minister ordered an inquiry into that complaint? If the inquiry was ordered, when was the inquiry ordered? And if not, why was no inquiry ordered given that there are serious allegations,” Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari asked.
Stating that there cannot be smoke without fire, he said, “There has been a lot of smoke over the last two days. Smoke about conversations allegedly illegally recorded by a corporate house. If those reports are correct… some very respected, reputed publications have put them out, then it points to the fact that the entire NDA-I government was completely and absolutely compromised. That the NDA-I government was completely subverted.”
He said media reports had alleged that the budget, telecom policy, ministerial appointments, disinvestment processes, parliamentary committee proceedings and “allegedly even criminal investigations involving influential ministers in the then government were also fixed.”
On the tapes, Tewari claimed, were the then National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra, former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s foster son-in-law Ranjan Bhattacharya, then cabinet ministers Jaswant Singh, Ram Naik and late Pramod Mahajan, current Union Ministers Piyush Goyal and Suresh Prabhu, BJP leader Sudhanshu Mittal and Lok Sabha MP Kirit Somaiya.
“Some of these people are still very much around. So therefore, if the NDA-I government was subverted, was compromised… is it the case that the current government is also subverted in the same manner?… We are at this point of time not saying that the allegations are correct or incorrect. But allegations have been made. Did the Prime Minister call those ministers who have been allegedly named in the complaint and asked them as to what this entire matter is all about. Why is the BJP so silent? Has the BJP completely forfeited the ownership of the NDA-I government?” he asked.
Asked why he was referring to the NDA when the tapping went on till 2006 — the UPA government came to power in May 2004 — he said, “As far as I understand, the reports apparently point to the period between 2001 and 2005. If there is any more material which is available, let it also come out.”