May 6, 2014 12:05:48 am
All of UPA’s exertions on ‘Snoopgate’ have invited suspicions of political motivation and timing.
After audio recordings purportedly revealed that the then Gujarat minister of state for home, Amit Shah, had master-minded the extensive and illegal surveillance of a young woman involving state agencies in late 2009, allegedly at the behest of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the UPA loudly demanded answers. It saw a political opportunity to attack a rival, and senior Congress leaders have made a point of referring to the spying scandal in political speeches since. But the UPA’s decision to set up a judicial inquiry, even while the Gujarat government-appointed probe panel is still on the job, lent itself to the charge of being merely an act of political score-settling.
The UPA should rightfully have waited until the Gujarat government inquiry is complete. Now, with the UPA making motions to find a judge, less than two weeks before the election results are announced and the government must step down, even UPA allies like the NCP and National Conference have expressed their reservations about setting up the commission at the last political moment. The message that such a move would send out is indeed that of an outgoing government taking a last stab at vendetta politics.
In the crude political machinations that have surrounded it, it has become easy to lose sight of the fact that “Snoopgate”, first and foremost, calls for an explanation from the Gujarat chief minister and now the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, and his government — and that both have so far failed to address or answer the charges. The BJP’s explanations have only further clouded the matter. The party first said law and order was a state subject, and then claimed that the alleged snooping had been conducted at the request of the young woman’s father, as though that were reason enough to invade the privacy of an adult citizen. The unauthorised physical and electronic trailing of the young woman allegedly extended beyond Gujarat, into Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and possibly Karnataka.
By pursuing the matter, from the very start, in a way that invites suspicions of political motivation and timing, the UPA has deflected attention away from the real issue and towards its own manoeuvring. In this scenario, as “Snoopgate” becomes a political weapon amid the heat and dust of electoral battle, it is clear that truth and justice will have to wait for a less fevered time.
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