New Delhi: The Congress may end up with egg on its face after its sensational charge of ‘political espionage’ against the government on Saturday seemed to run into a fuller array of facts that complicated the story.
By Sunday evening, it was clear that the proforma left at Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s Tughlak Lane residence by ASI Shamsher Singh of the Delhi Police was part of the same routine security audit that had in the past covered Congress president Sonia Gandhi, current President and once party stalwart Pranab Mukherjee and even former PM A B Vajpayee and present PM Narendra Modi.
Faced with the avalanche of big names — over 500 politicians, in all, since 1998 — who were revealed to have once filled out the proforma with no fuss, the Congress party’s allegation seemed on the verge of collapsing.
The party stuck resolutely to its guns though, saying it was not the proforma per se that they had issues with. It was the nature of probing questions that the sub-inspector had asked about Rahul’s movements and associates — not part of the set questionnaire — that set alarm bells ringing, party spokespersons said. “There was always the chance that the government was using the pretext of a standard security audit to carry out a deeper espionage,” said a Congress spokesperson. On top of this, there was the tantalising promise/threat held out by spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi on Saturday that the party had in its store more “facts” that would be revealed in due course.
The party also tried to widen the scope of the alleged snooping, charging that Opposition leaders were being targeted on the “Gujarat pattern”.
“The present government has much to answer when it comes to right to privacy of citizens. They are now trying to do everywhere what was happening in one State. Both Modi and Amit Shah are now here,” said Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma. He added that “it is not confined to one person”. “The practice they had adopted in Gujarat, they want to carry out everywhere now.” Sharma said the Opposition had raised the issue of their phones being tapped in the last Parliament session, when Home Minister Rajnath Singh had assured them of no such occurrence. “India cannot be converted into a police state… we will raise the issue in Parliament,” he asserted.
However, he could not give proof of his allegations, and said orders would not have been written down. “Letters are not sent for phone tapping to political leaders, judges and others… It can be proved only if the PM, Home Minister give letters to Opposition leaders on their phone tapping,” he said.
“@PMOIndia needs to explain why it needs details of a person protected by the SPG. All his movements are recorded by SPG,” tweeted Congress LS member Shashi Tharoor.
Over 500 politicians profiled since 1998
The proforma left at Rahul Gandhi’s Tughlak Lane residence by ASI Shamsher Singh of Delhi Police was part of the same routine security audit that had in the past covered party president Sonia Gandhi, President Pranab Mukherjee and even ex-PM A B Vajpayee and present PM Narendra Modi. Over 500 politicians, since 1998, were revealed to have once filled out the proforma with no fuss.
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