The Congress on Sunday demanded the resignation of Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on “moral grounds” after his alleged role in a conspiracy to topple the Ashok Gehlot government in Rajasthan was revealed in some audio tapes. If the Minister does not quit, he should be removed from office, said the Congress.
Senior Congress leader Ajay Maken, camping in Jaipur as the party's central observer, said since the Anti-Corruption Bureau of the State police had registered a case against Mr. Shekhawat and others, the Union Minister should be removed to ensure that he does not influence investigation. “Why is he afraid of giving his voice samples when he claims that the voice in audio clips is not his,” Mr. Maken asked.
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Late on Sunday night, a team of the Rajasthan Police reportedly reached Best Western Resort near Pachgaon in connection with the case on the alleged attempt to topple the State government.
Chief Minister Gehlot’s meeting with Governor Kalraj Mishra on Saturday night, when he reportedly submitted a list of MLAs supporting him, has raised the possibility of a brief State Assembly session this week for the government to seek a trust vote. However, Leader of Opposition Gulab Chand Kataria said the BJP had not called for a floor test in the House.
Separately, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala repeated that former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot and the MLAs supporting him should give up the hospitality offered to them by the BJP and discuss all issues within the party. “These issues cannot be discussed through the media,” he said in an online interaction with journalists.
Mr. Surjewala said the BJP government in Haryana was supporting the dissident MLAs by deploying police in large numbers at the places where they were staying.
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“Mr. Pilot has to decide whether he wants to remain trapped in the BJP’s conspiracy or discuss things within the family,” he said, adding that the Congress’ top leadership had spoken to Mr. Pilot several times.
Asked about the possibility of holding a floor test, Mr. Maken said that it was the Chief Minister's discretion to decide. “The decision will be taken by the Chief Minister and the government after considering if it is required and when is it required,” he said.
Mr. Maken raised five questions about the BJP's “direct and unambiguous” role in the political turmoil created after Mr. Pilot's rebellion and accused the Centre of threatening the State government in the name of CBI, as it wanted to stop the probe into the conspiracy that could expose some powerful people.
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PUCL flags sedition cases
Meanwhile, the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) has questioned the slapping of sedition charges on the rebel MLAs in the case registered by Special Operations Group (SOG), saying it went against the Congress party's own manifesto in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, in which it had pledged to omit Section 124-A of Indian Penal Code.
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“We have seen for the first time the wilful misuse of sedition law against legislators in Rajasthan. Even if we go by the Supreme Court’s interpretation in the Kedar Nath Singh case of 1962, it is applicable only if the disaffection results in inciting violence in the society, which is not the case here,” PUCL-Rajasthan general secretary Anant Bhatnagar said.