BJP in a bind over phone-tapping issue in Rajasthan


The BJP’s bid to corner the Ashok Gehlot government over the phone-tapping issue came a cropper, with an influential faction of the party led by former Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje distancing itself from the entire development. The saffron party being ill-prepared was another reason why its attempt to pull Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot was futile. On the basis of the Gehlot government’s reply to a question related to phone-tapping in the Assembly, the BJP sought to go after the CM and his government over this issue.

The BJP started targeting the state government over the phone tapping “scandal” only to find itself on the backfoot at the end of the day. The Ashok Gehlot government took the wind out of the BJP’s sail by simply explaining that the police have the right to tap the phones whenever it is required. While raising this issue, what the BJP lost sight of was that there are umpteen number of phone-tapping cases which are related to Gujarat where the saffron party is in power. The BJP realized that if the issue was lent a bigger proportion, then Gujarat will also figure in discussions, with the Congress looking ready to take it up in an aggressive manner. CM Ashok Gehlot has been alleging that all the people of the country are under fear of their phones being tapped. The BJP, which was seeking a CBI probe into the phone tapping scandal, lapsed into silence the moment it realized that the issue might open the floodgates of allegations against its governments as well. This is the reason why the deadlock ended in the Assembly.

In fact, the factionalism in the BJP is also behind its strategy getting weakened. The central leadership is finding itself hard-pressed to deal with the group fighting in BJP in Rajasthan. The central high command wanted to hand over the party charge in Rajasthan to Gajendra Singh Shekhawat at the time of Assembly polls. But it could not be possible due to all powerful Raje’s opposition. After the formation of the Gehlot government, BJP understandably continued its efforts to explore possibilities to gain power. Satish Puniya was given the reins of the party in the state. Shekhawat was appointed Union minister, and the central leadership tried to project him as the key face of the party in Rajasthan. Then emerged an audio tape when the Gehlot government was struggling to survive last year. It was alleged that the tape had the voice of Shekhawat. It was said that Shekhawat no longer commanded political clout after the tape incident and also after his name featured in a scam. But many feel that this is not the situation. Shekhawat continues to be an influential leader. The names of Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and Diya Kumari are also considered to be the front-runners for the main face of the BJP in Rajasthan.

But Shekhawat is said to top the list of front runners. This is the reason why Shekhawat targeted the state government over the phone-tapping issue by tweeting several comments. But the moment the phone tapping cases in Gujarat were referred to, the BJP relented. The party understood that the Congress would then demand a probe into audio tapes which were found to be containing a clip matching allegedly the voice of Shekhawat.