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Monday, September 21, 2020

Rajasthan power play: Congress demands Shekhawat’s resignation over audio clips

While there are indications from Raj Bhavan that the Assembly session may be called on Wednesday, Maken said, “The CM and the government will decide on a floor test, if and when needed.”

Written by Hamza Khan | Jaipur | July 20, 2020 1:25:30 am
gajendra singh shekhawat, gajendra singh shekhawat audio tapes, fir against gajendra singh shekhawat, rajasthan government crisis, congress gajendra singh shekhawat bribing mlas, bjp bribing mlas, rajasthan latest news Congress leader Ajay Maken at a press meet in Jaipur. (PTI)

THE CONGRESS Sunday demanded the resignation of Union Jal Shakti Minister and Rajasthan MP Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, saying he has no “moral authority” to continue after his name surfaced in the purported audio calls and he faces FIRs from the Special Operations Group (SOG) and the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).

Addressing a press conference, Congress leader Ajay Maken said, “If he [Shekhawat] is fearful of giving his voice sample, then it makes it very clear — that it is indeed the same Gajendra Singh Shekhawat who is being mentioned in the audio clips… Does he still have a right to continue as a minister in the Union government.” He should either resign or be sacked so that he does not interfere with the investigation, he said.

While there are indications from Raj Bhavan that the Assembly session may be called on Wednesday, Maken said, “The CM and the government will decide on a floor test, if and when needed.” To a question on the Home Ministry’s letter to the state Chief Secretary regarding phone tapping, he said he doesn’t think such actions have been undertaken in violation of Constitution or law.

Apart from Congress MLA Bhanwarlal Sharma and businessman Sanjay Jain, one Gajendra Singh has been named in separate FIRs lodged by the SOG and ACB. While the SOG is investigating the case under IPC sections for sedition and criminal conspiracy, the ACB is conducting an investigation under Section 7 (public servant taking gratification other than legal remuneration in respect of an official act) and 7a (expecting to be a public servant) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

“Why is the BJP police in Haryana, Delhi police and Karnataka police next, preventing the collection of voice samples of Bhanwarlal Sharma and Vishvendra Singh,” Maken asked. “Why was the SOG team, which went to Haryana to collect voice samples, stopped? If they are innocent and say that the voices aren’t theirs then why don’t they come forward and give their voice samples.”

Later, he said Gajendra Singh’s name too as one of the three whose voice sample collection by SOG was being stopped by Delhi police.

BJP state president Satish Poonia told The Indian Express, “Whatever is happening in Rajasthan is politically motivated. Who will resign just because Ajay Maken demands so? He doesn’t have any moral right because we have been asking questions regarding [phone] tapping but they haven’t answered any.” He also reiterated the party’s demand for a CBI inquiry into the matter. “The manner in which they are misusing SOG and ACB and are threatening public representatives puts their integrity in question.”

Additional Director General, SOG, Rajasthan Police, Ashok Rathore said the SOG team continues to be in Delhi, even as the whereabouts of rebel MLAs are not known and they are learnt to be shifting between hotels.

Maken asked, “Is the Central government threatening with CBI because other senior people are involved in this? That there are other politicians. Don’t threaten with CBI; by threatening with CBI, you want to stop the investigation here itself so that the branches of this investigation don’t reach [beyond].”

“If BJP doesn’t have a role to play, then why from Central government to Haryana government, and Income Tax, Enforcement Directorate, Delhi Police, they are protecting [rebel] Congress MLAs and aggressively trying to pressurise the [Congress] MLAs here [in Jaipur].”

“It is very clear that BJP is involved in this conspiracy,” he said.

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