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Apr 25, 2010 at 04:38pm IST

Battle lines drawn on phone tapping row

New Delhi: A news magazine report that the government tapped phones of four senior politicians had opposite reactions on Sunday: of denial and allegation of return to Emergency.

Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh rejected Outlook magazine’s report that his own party government had tapped his phone. "I know that the Madhya Pradesh government taps my phone. I have no problem with it,” said Singh, who was twice Chief Minister of the state.

"I don't believe this story because Manmohan Singh's government cannot do such an unethical and illegal task," he said.

Battle lines drawn on phone tapping row

LIVING MEMORY: Senior BJP leader L K Advani wants tougher laws against phone tapping.

Senior BJP leader L K Advani, however, does not trust the government. He said the magazine’s report was “shocking” and reminded him of the Emergency.

It is a "shocking report describing how the Government of India has been making use of the latest phone tapping technology to prepare records of telephonic conversations of prominent political leaders including Chief Ministers like Nitish Kumar, Union Ministers like Sharad Pawar, communist leaders like Prakash Karat and the Congress party's own office bearers like its General Secretary, Digvijay Singh," said Advani in his blog on Sunday.

"This reminds me of an interesting encounter I had 25 years back. In 1985, one morning a stranger arrived at my house carrying a brief case full of papers. This brief case, he told me, contained ‘dynamite’ which could blow up this Government. He opened his brief case and out poured some 200 sheets of closely typed records of telephonic conversations of many VIPS.

“Some of those papers were telephonic conversations which I had had with Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee. What surprised me even more was that those transcripts included tape-recorded conversations not only of opposition leaders but also of eminent journalists and some extremely distinguished VVIPs like Gyani Zail Singh.

Advani’s blog, titled Is the Emergency back, demanded that a new legislation be enacted to protect citizens' privacy.

CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat has called the tapping of telephones of as ‘illegal and intolerable”. "The UPA government has to own up responsibility and take action against those responsible,” he said on Saturday.

The Opposition plans to press the government for a joint parliamentary probe into the allegations.

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