Zee Media Bureau/Ritesh K Srivastava
New Delhi: The war of words between country`s two main political parties - Congress and the BJP – intensified on Friday with the former defending the Centre`s decision to set up an inquiry panel to probe snooping allegations against Narendra Modi-led Gujarat government and the latter threatening to take legal action.
Rejecting BJP`s charge of political vendetta in the Centre`s move to set up an inquiry commission to probe the snoopgate case, Congress general secretary Shakeel Ahmed said, “It was a genuine need.”
Ahmed also alleged that snooping on the girl was done at the behest of Narendra Modi not only inside but outside Gujarat too.
"Snooping on the girl was done on behest of "Saheb" not only inside but outside Gujarat also. An all-India inquiry was a genuine need," Ahmed tweeted.
The two sides engaged themselves in a bitter duel minutes after the Centre ordered the setting up of an inquiry commission on Thursday to probe allegations of snooping against the Gujarat government led by Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
While the Congress defended the Centre` move and said that the alleged spying on a woman officer by the Gujarat government was a gross violation of Indian Telegraph Act and the IT Act, the main opposition party termed it as a politically motivated move.
One by one, all top BJP central leaders slammed the UPA government`s decision to set up a commission of inquiry into the alleged snooping on a young woman by the Gujarat Police and said it was "political vindictiveness" against its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
"The centre`s decision to institute a fresh inquiry into the alleged snooping case is an attempt to tarnish the image of the Gujarat government. It is a step against the federal structure of our constitution. When the state government had already ordered a probe, what was the point behind setting up a new commission of inquiry," BJP chief Rajnath Singh said.
Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said the decision would be challenged in court.
"The Gujarat government has already set up a commission of inquiry… The setting up of a parallel commission by the central government ostensibly on the pretext of this issue covering more than one state is without basis… I am sure it can be legally challenged," he said.
The young woman, an architect who was in Karnataka capital Bangalore, was allegedly under the surveillance of Gujarat Police.
Jaitley said the setting up of the new commission was "politically motivated".
"It is an affront to the states. I hope other chief ministers also join the protest against this action," he said.
BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman told mediapersons, "Congress is trying to hit at the principal opposition party`s prime ministerial candidate. It is a clear case of political vindictiveness coming into play."
The Congress leads the United Progressive Alliance government.
Sitharaman said the probe was into a matter that was a state subject. Also, an inquiry was being held under the Commission of Inquiry Act by a retired judge and another member.
She accused the Congress of a "fascist mindset" and said it was a clear case of "getting back" after a crushing defeat in assembly elections in four states.
The Gujarat government also questioned the rationale of setting up the judicial commission, when the state has already formed a similar panel to inquiry into the raging scandal which came to light last month.
"As per the Commission of Inquiry Act, it is illegal to appoint another commission, when one commission has been appointed to inquiry into a particular incident," Gujarat Government spokesperson Nitin Patel said last night.
"We will explore all legal options against the commission of inquiry constituted by the Central Government," said Patel, who is also Gujarat`s Finance Minister. This is an attempt by the UPA Government to harass Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, he alleged.
In mid-November, two websites Cobrapost and Gulail.Com had released tapes of Shah and IPS officer G S Singhal revealing the alleged snooping of the woman, whose family hails from Gujarat, by state machinery.
As the issue snowballed into a major controversy, the Modi Government in late November formed a two-member inquiry commission headed by Justice (retd) Sugynaben Bhatt and asked it to submit a report in three months.