Rajasthan crisis: Congress demands arrest of Union minister Shekhawat
The Congress on Friday demanded the arrest of Union minister and BJP leader Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and rebel Congress MLA Bhanwarlal Sharma after two audio clips surfaced pertaining to an alleged conspiracy to topple the Ashok Gehlot government.
AICC spokesperson Randeep Surjewala also demanded the arrest of Sanjay Jain, whom he described as a BJP leader.
Cracking the whip, the Congress suspended party MLAs Sharma, who is purportedly talking with the minister in the audio clips, and Vishvendra Singh from the primary membership of the party and issued them show cause notices.
Sharma, a Sachin Pilot loyalist, has, however, denied the allegations. When the audio tapes surfaced on Thursday, he had termed them as fake and said the voice in it was not his.
Surjewala charged that the conspiracy to topple the Congress government was clear in the audio tapes, terming it as a black chapter in the history of democracy.
"Two audio tapes surfaced last night on the so-called conversation of Union minister Gajendra Singh, Congress MLA Bhanwarlal Sharma and BJP leader Sanjay Jain. The conspiracy to topple the Congress government is clear through the so-called conversation. This is a black chapter in the history of democracy," he said at a press conference outside a hotel where the Congress MLAs are lodged.
He demanded that the Special Operations Group of the Rajasthan Police register an FIR against Shekhawat, Sharma and Jain and arrest them for the alleged conspiracy to topple the government.
Surjewala said that if there are any chances of influencing the investigation by misusing the post which, he says, appears to be the case, then Shekhawat should be arrested by obtaining a warrant.
Similar action should also be taken against Sharma and Jain, the Congress leader demanded.
He said the alleged involvement of others, who are holding posts in the central government, officers and agencies, in this conspiracy should also be made in the investigation.
Apart from those who have been named in the conversation in the audio tapes, he said, it should also be probed whether any other person or MLA is involved in alleged exchange of money for toppling the government.
Surjewala also demanded that Sachin Pilot, who has already been sacked as deputy CM and PCC president, to make his stand clear publicly about the alleged mention of providing the list of MLAs to BJP' in the audio tapes.
He said that chief whip Mahesh Joshi has given a complaint to the SOG for registration of the FIR in connection with the audio tapes.
In the press briefing, Surjewala read out a transcript of the audio tapes.
Targeting the central government, he charged that the Modi government is busy toppling Congress governments during the coronavirus pandemic.
Surjewala said the country was suffering from coronavirus but Prime Minister Narendra Modi did nothing till the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh was toppled on March 24. After this, lockdown was imposed.
"The number of coronavirus cases has crossed 10 lakh. China has forcefully encroached India's border but instead of serving the country, Modi government is fulfilling its lust of power," he charged.
Congress MLA Chetan Dudi, whose name was also discussed during the purported conversation in the audio tapes, said he will approach the SOG to record his statements because he was allegedly offered money.
Chief minister Ashok Gehlot was initially scheduled to brief the media on Friday.
Pilot has been upset since the Congress picked Gehlot as the chief minister after the 2018 Assembly polls, while his own supporters insisted that he deserved credit for the party's victory as its state unit president
The current crisis erupted last Friday when the Rajasthan Police sent a notice to Pilot, asking him to record his statement over the alleged bid to bring down the government
The same notice was sent to the chief minister and some other MLAs, but Pilot's supporters claimed that it was only meant to humiliate him.