New Delhi: The war of words between the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) and the Congress has intensified in the face of allegations against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's key aide Amit Shah which accuse him of using the state machinery for illegal surveillance of a young woman in 2009.
The conversations captured by investigating media house Cobrapost reveal that there are references to a certain 'saheb' in the conversations. The Congress is now alleging that the references are being made to Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
"It is strange that whoever revealed that there was snooping has not come forward to talk about this. 'Sahib' and who he is," Minister of Information and Broadcasting Manish Tewari said while taking potshots over Modi.
Citing the seriousness of the matter, Law Minister Kapil Sibal's had also said that the BJP will be forced to rethink its prime ministerial candidate after the allegations.
However, terming the allegations baseless, the BJP has accused the Congress of engaging in dirty politics over its prime ministerial nominee.
"There is no question of doing a rethink on our prime ministerial candidate even if a thousand baseless allegations of this kind are made against Modi. We had already said much earlier that we apprehend that the dirty tricks wing of the Congress will make such baseless allegations against Modi as the elections draw near," BJP President Rajnath Singh said.
The Congress is demanding a CBI probe into the matter stating that Shah has been infamous for such acts in the past as well. "The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) must take note of this as its already investigating the Ishrat Jahan case. Amit Shah is notorious for such acts," Congress leader Meem Afzal said.
The twist in the tale came with defence giving the argument that the snooping was ordered only because the girl's father requested Gujarat state government's help as she was involved with someone. The defence has been trashed by the Congress as political noises get shriller as the battle for states intensifies.
The allegations against Shah were made at a press conference along with release of over half-an-hour of tapped telephonic conversations, purportedly between Shah and Gujarat IPS officer GL Singhal, which two investigative portals claimed have been submitted before CBI in the Ishrat Jahan murder case.
While the tapped conversations that purportedly took place between August and September 2009 do not mention Modi, the BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate by name, the websites said that "listening to the conversations leaves no doubt that the people involved in the operation knew the 'saheb'," at whose behest the alleged snooping was being carried out.
It was claimed by the two portals that Modi had met this woman - an architect from Bangalore whose parents were in Gujarat - in 2005 during a public function of Bhavnagar Municipal Corporation.
The girl's father, however, said in a statement that his daughter, who was based in Bangalore, had come to Ahmedabad when her mother was to undergo a surgery. She was required to commute at odd hours between the hospital and a nearby hotel which was a matter of concern to him.
He had, therefore, orally requested Modi, "with whom we have long-standing family relations" to "take care" of her. He was shocked that some "vested interests" were approaching the media in this regard.