The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Karat off-key for Cong

New Delhi, Jan. 4: The Congress today tried to turn the tables on Mulayam Singh Yadav and Amar Singh, but was forced to pause by a statement from CPM general secretary Prakash Karat.

Amar Singh, the Samajwadi Party general secretary, who, with his leader Mulayam, has accused the government of tapping their phones, met Karat to drum up support and will visit Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa tomorrow.

Karat spoke of a “conspiracy”, but did not say who was behind it. But that was enough of an endorsement for Amar Singh and cause for worry for the Congress.

“It is a serious matter because it has been established that through a private telephone company, tapping has been done illegally. There should be a proper investigation to uncover the conspiracy behind it,” Karat said.

The Congress latched on to this private telecom company there to mount its counter-attack. Delhi police yesterday arrested a franchisee of Reliance Infocomm in connection with the tapping.

Reliance Infocomm is owned by Anil Ambani, close to Amar and Mulayam Singh and nominated to the Rajya Sabha by their Samajwadi Party.

Congress general secretary Ambika Soni said: “The phone tapping was not done by a government agency but Reliance Infocomm.”

She wondered why Mulayam and his “fund-raiser” (Amar Singh) repeatedly attacked the Congress and Sonia Gandhi, but had not filed an FIR'

“What sort of a probe does he want against this company'” Soni asked.

She tried to brush aside Karat’s statement, saying: “I have also said the matter is serious and unlawful if permission (to tap the phone) was not sought.”

But the Congress is concerned that through it the CPM is again sending out the message that its sup- port cannot be taken for granted.

CPM sources said Karat’s statement proved his predecessor Harkishen Singh Surjeet was not the only Mulayam backer in the party. Karat had shared a platform with the Uttar Pradesh chief minister in Lucknow right after taking over as general secretary.

Amar Singh alleged that two joint directors of the CBI had said in a meeting called by Delhi police yesterday that he had to be “fixed once and for all”.

Soni said Mulayam and Amar Singh were sounding “paranoid”. “Which conversation(s) was tapped that has frightened them so much' The chief minister (Mulayam) gave an indication (in his news conference on Monday) when he said his fund manager constantly spoke to film actors,” she added.

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