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Gujarat snooping controversy: Allegations and counter allegations

Narendra Modi and his close aide Amit Shah in the middle of political storm over snooping row.

Gujarat chief minister and BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and his close aide Amit Shah are in the middle of a political storm after a snooping controversy leading to a war of words between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress.

Modi’s close associate and former Gujarat minister of state for home Amit Shah has been accused of misusing his powers and police machinery for illegal surveillance of a young woman in August 2009 “at the behest of his saheb”.

Here is a chain of events that unfolded ever since a taped conversation by two investigative portals claimed Shah of ‘snooping’ the woman:

# Two investigative portals,Cobrapost and Gulail,on Friday last claimed that Modi’s aide and former Gujarat Home Minister Amit Shah had ordered illegal surveillance of a woman at the behest of one “Saheb”. An alleged half-an-hour taped conversation between Shah and Gujarat IPS officer G L Singhal aired by news portals,purportedly featured Shah instructing Singhal to closely monitor the movements of the woman referred to in the report as “Madhuri” (not her real name).

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# Congress and BJP on Saturday engaged in a slugfest over the alleged illegal snooping row. Congress demanded a CBI probe into the issue,saying that BJP will be forced to rethink its prime ministerial candidate if snooping allegations against former Gujarat minister Amit Shah were true. The saffron party,on the other hand trashed allegations of illegal snooping against Modi,claiming that the Congress’ “dirty tricks wing” was behind the controversy.

# The illegal snooping row intensified on Sunday with Congress demanding inquiry by a sitting SC judge and BJP accusing the Congress of bringing a private matter into the public domain for political gain.

# The Congress fielded its senior women leaders to target the Modi government for ‘stalking’ and ‘disregard for individual privacy guaranteed by the Constitution’. The leaders said that Modi had lost the “moral right” to be the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate. BJP spokeswoman Meenakshi Lekhi hit back at Congress saying,”The Congress does not have any locus standi to demand a probe. The surveillance was done legally with due approval….This is an attempt at character assassination.”

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# On Sunday Union Minister Manish Tewari asked why no PSO was provided if the woman in question was being protected at her father’s behest. Coming to the defence of Modi,Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha,Sushma Swaraj described the snooping allegation as a “dirty trick” by a “frustrated” Congress.

# The Congress party accused Modi of heading a “fascist” set up in Gujarat. Supporting the Congress’s demand for a probe by a Supreme Court judge,the JD(U) also demanded Modi’s resignation.

#The Gujarat snooping controversy on Tuesday reached the Supreme Court with a suspended IAS officer Pradeep Sharma urging it to take cognisance of audio tapes aired by news portals saying it contains proof of how the state government had tried to frame him in “frivolous” cases.

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# Sparring over the illegal snooping row got shriller with the Congress fielding two senior ministers to take on Narendra Modi asking him to “come clean” on it and the BJP accusing the ruling party at the Centre of engaging in “mafia-style politics” to target the opposition.

Union minister Kapil Sibal said the time has come for the main opposition to come clean on the “real story behind the manufactured one”. In Mumbai,Finance Minister P Chidambaram took a dig at the Modi government,saying that in the “wonderful state of Gujarat,security is provided by stalking and snooping”.

# The Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) on Tuesday declared to launch a statewide street agitation until Chief Minister and his close confidant resigned from their posts for their alleged involvement in “stalking” of a young woman.

# Pranlal Soni,the father of the woman allegedly put under illegal surveillance by Narendra Modi’s government,was learnt to have written to the national and Gujarat women’s commissions,asking them not to take cognizance of the matter even if “any person,body,political party or authority” approaches them. Soni was learnt to have said that his daughter was “fully aware” of the “help” provided by the state government,and that there “has been no encroachment of her privacy”.

(With PTI inputs)

First published on: 20-11-2013 at 15:37 IST
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