Rajasthan crisis: FIRs filed against union minister, rebel MLA; 1 arrested

Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala had earlier in the day demanded the arrest of union minister and BJP leader Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and rebel Congress MLA Bhanwarlal Sharma

The Congress alleged that Shekhawat's voice figured in the audio clips. Photo: PTI (File)

The Rajasthan Police registered two FIRs on Friday (July 17) over a complaint lodged by the Congress regarding the alleged conspiracy to topple the Ashok Gehlot government through horse trading of MLAs.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala had earlier in the day demanded the arrest of union minister and BJP leader Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and rebel Congress MLA Bhanwarlal Sharma after two audio clips surfaced pertaining to the alleged conspiracy.

“Congress has suspended Bhanwar Lal Sharma and Vishvendra Singh from the primary membership of the party. The party has also issued show-cause notices to them,” Surjewala said, according to NDTV.

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Though the Congress leader mentioned Shekhawat during the media briefing, there was no mention of the leader’s name in the FIR lodged by party chief whip Mahesh Joshi. The complaint mentions “Gajendra Singh” but does not say if it pertains to the union minister.

Union minister Shekhawat said his voice was not in those recordings and that he was ready to face any probe. “I am ready to face any investigation. The audio doesn’t have my voice. If I am called for questioning, I will definitely go,” NDTV quoted Shekhawat as saying.

Simialrly, Sharma too denied the allegations and called the audio recordings ‘fake’. He also claimed it was not his voice in the audio.

ADG (ATS and SOG), Ashok Rathore, said, “Two FIRs have been registered under IPC Sections 124-A (sedition) and 120-B (conspiracy) to probe into horse trading of MLAs and alleged audio recordings that went viral on social media.”

He said Sanjay Jain, whose name surfaced in one of the audio recordings, was called for interrogation on Thursday and is being further questioned.

However, NDTV reported that Jain had been arrested by the police.

Talking to reporters, Joshi claimed, “We can recognise the voice of Bhanwarlal Sharma. He is heard talking with Sanjay Jain and then Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat. Those who have heard the audio feel that the voice matches with that of Gajendra Singh Shekhawat”.

“We have registered FIR and it will become clear in the investigation. If the minister is saying that it is not his voice, then we would also be happy because if it is the voice of the union minister, this is blot on politics. He should come on his own to SOG and should give voice samples. The MLA should also give the voice samples,” he said.

Joshi had on Thursday night lodged a complaint demanding a probe and registration of an FIR under sedition charges against three persons, including Sharma, Gajendra Singh and Jain after the audio clips went viral.

“I had lodged a complaint with the Special Operations Group (SOG) after audio recordings went viral on social media to investigate the matter. FIR has been registered but I am yet to receive its copy,” he said.

“Earlier also I had lodged a complaint and several questions were raised about evidences and delay in probe but audio recordings are now a proof. Those talking in audio recording should be identified and arrested,” he added.

The SOG has so far registered three FIRs based on complaints of alleged horse trading of legislators.

(With inputs from agencies)

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