Asaram targets Sonia, Rahul for his troubles; Congress rejects allegation

Controversial self-styled godman Asaram Bapu faces arrest if he fails to turn up before police for questioning in the sexual assault case.

Bhopal/Jodhpur: Controversial self-styled godman Asaram Bapu, who faces arrest if he fails to turn up before police for questioning in the sexual assault case, on Thursday indirectly targeted Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul alleging he was being framed at their instance.

The Congress rejected the allegation outright asking why should it bother to "conspire" against Asaram.

Asaram (72), who is accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old inmate of his ashram, will face arrest if he fails to appear before the Jodhpur Police tomorrow, Jodhpur Police Commissioner Biju George Joseph told reporters.

"We will wait until August 30 as per the deadline of the summons served on him and if he fails to turn up by August 30, we will send a team to arrest him on August 31," he said.

Asaram, while seeking to drag Sonia and Rahul into the sexual assault controversy surrounding him, also said he would not seek more time to present himself before the police.

"I am not against any party but people tell me that it is at the instance of madam and her son that this is happening. For four-years-and-a-half those behind (religious) conversions are getting their support," Asaram told reporters in Bhopal without naming Sonia or the Congress vice president.

Asaram flew into a rage when asked if anybody was protecting him.

"Nobody is trying to protect me....What you are saying is wrong...No party is in my support...Don`t talk like this ...Don`t torment me," a furious Asaram told reporters, abruptly ending his media interaction. As he was whisked away by armed police escorts, his supporters shouted slogans against the media.

Senior BJP leaders Uma Bharti and Prabhat Jha had recently defended Asaram, terming rape charges against him as a "Congress conspiracy".

Reacting to Asaram`s allegations directed at Sonia and Rahul, Congress spokesperson Renuka Chowdhury said, "Why would the Congress bother to conspire against him? He has a huge following and is instigating people."

Senior Congress leader Karan Singh also took umbrage at Asaram`s charge.

"A case has been filed against him so he is speaking like this," he said, and asked, "But how can one speak like this without any proof."

Meanwhile, none of the three employees of Asaram, who were summoned for interrogation by the Jodhpur police today in connection with the sexual assault case, turned up.


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