Video on 3 former Ministers `taking money'

JAIPUR, APRIL 24. In a major embarrassment to the Congress in the midst of the Lok Sabha polls, three Ministers of the erstwhile Ashok Gehlot Government in Rajasthan were today shown purportedly taking bribes on a video.

A property dealer released CDs of the video to the electronic media, showing the former Ministers "taking money while promising official favours."

Ranveer Pehalwan, property dealer who carried out the "sting operation," said he had taped the deals last year, but was releasing the CDs now since he and his family had started receiving threat calls. ``I approached various media organisations, but they refused to take the risk. So I had to call this press conference.''

The videocassette, shot in a city hotel last June, also showed deals being allegedly struck. The amount of money ranged from Rs. 2 lakhs to Rs. 2.5 lakhs.

Neither Mr. Gehlot nor his Ministers and the others shown on the video could be reached for comments, but the Congress described the tape as the BJP's ``poll stunt.''

``The tapes are doctored and have been released as part of the BJP's game plan to tarnish the Congress' image,'' the PCC spokesman, Suraj Khatri, said.

`Authenticity questionable'

In New Delhi, the Congress dismissed the videotape, saying that the authenticity and timing was questionable.

``The timing is intriguing. If the tapes were authentic, why were they released one year late?'' the Congress spokesman, Anand Sharma, said adding the ``credibility was questionable. ''

The authenticity of the tape was yet to be proved, Mr. Sharma said. — UNI

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