New Delhi, Dec. 8: The tape scandal has sucked in some of the biggest names in national politics as the BJP threatened to unleash the CBI on Sonia Gandhi and her party sought to link L.K. Advani and Arun Jaitley to the “sting operation” against Ajit Jogi.
Whether the confrontation that stalled Parliament today will snowball into a fullblown battle will be clear tomorrow when Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is scheduled to make a statement in the Lok Sabha on the cash-on-camera scandal which snared Dilip Singh Judeo and led to one of the most vicious election campaigns in the country.
BJP sources said that though many in the party are keen to see the CBI question Sonia, whose name is mentioned in the tape with the purported voice of Jogi, the Prime Minister is not expected to agree to such a demand. Magnanimous in his hour of triumph, Vajpayee is unlikely to take any step that could generate a ripple of sympathy for Sonia.
But the BJP made full use of the scandal to hit the Congress and gunned for Sonia.
The party demanded an explanation from Sonia on the premise that, without the Congress president’s nod, Jogi could not have written to the Chhattisgarh governor pledging support to a prospective breakaway group from the BJP.
The BJP has given a notice for breach of privilege against Sonia, describing Jogi’s alleged bribery attempt as the “most shameful episode in India’s five decades of democracy”.
The Congress struck back by threatening not to cooperate with the government in passing bills if the BJP tried to drag Sonia into the scandal.
The ruling coalition needs the Opposition’s support in the Rajya Sabha to clear legislation.
Congress spokesperson S. Jaipal Reddy claimed that deputy Prime Minister Advani had “prior information about the sting operation”.
Referring to law minister Jaitley, Reddy said it was “unprecedented” for a Union minister to be “privy” to a sting operation.
“It is unprecedented. It is improper and unlawful. We, therefore, demand that the deputy Prime Minister explain through Parliament about his knowledge of the sting operation,” Reddy added.
He described as “ridiculous and malicious” the attempts to implicate Sonia. “Even according to the alleged transcript, Jogi did not mention the name of Sonia Gandhi. It was the other person who named her. It is highly condemnable,” the spokesperson said.
In the Rajya Sabha, two MPs came close to blows over the scandal. The BJP’s S.S. Ahluwalia and the Congress’ H.R. Bhardwaj were about to pounce on each other but senior leaders intervened. The Congress and the BJP later expressed regret.