NEW DELHI: With the Gujarat elections drawing nearer, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s troubles seem to be multiplying each new day. Adding to the party’s headache of countering more and more political opposition, the BJP has now run into fresh controversy over allegations of snooping. Senior Congress leader Ashok Gehlot has claimed that officials from the Intelligence Bureau and the Gujarat police carried out searches at hotel rooms where he met Hardik Patel, who had spearheaded a militant agitation by the influential Patidar community, as well as the firebrand Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani on Monday, October 23. Digging in their heels, both these leaders have taken to a warpath against the BJP in the forthcoming assembly polls in December.
Ahead of the assembly polls, the Congress received a major boost on October 21, when OBC leader Alpesh Thakor announced his plans of joining the party after meeting the Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi.
According to a report in the Scroll.in, the Congress had invited both Patel and Mevani to join the party ahead of the assembly elections in Gujarat.
It is amidst such speculations of electoral realignment that could adversely impact the BJP’s poll prospects that the All India Congress Committee general secretary Gehlot has now told Indian Express that authorities at Ummed Hotel in Ahmedabad informed him that both the police and IB were making inquiries about who all had come into the hotel to meet him. Gehlot further said that “they took away CCTV footage and gave it to the media.”
Angered by the revelations, the Congress leader took to Twitter and hit out at the ruling party and the prime minister, claiming “all this surveillance (was) being done on BJP’s orders.”
He further questioned why the authorities had taken CCTV footage from the hotel and whether the right to privacy was the“sole proprietorship of #JayAmitShah.”
Further muddying the waters, the authorities at the hotel have confirmed sharing the CCTV footage – which was telecast by TV channels, leading to speculations about a meeting between Patel and Gandhi – according to the Indian Expressreport.
Gehlot further said that he was informed by the hotel authorities that police and IB personnel told them they would inspect the rooms. “They wanted to know who stayed in which room. Whether Hardik [Patel] stayed… in which room Ashok Gehlot stayed,” he said. “It is the first time I have seen people stooping to this level,” he said.
Vikram Singh Shekhawat, chief security officer of the hotel in Ahmedabad, however, was quoted by the daily as saying: “no room was searched by police but there were many police and IB officials deployed in the hotel throughout the day due to VVIP visits. The police did ask for CCTV footage and, after consulting our top management, we provided it to them,” adding that they did so only for security reasons.
(With agency inputs)