Mumbai: Amid allegations that the previous BJP-led dispensation in Maharashtra tapped the phones of opposition leaders, former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis Friday said phone-tapping was not the culture of the state and his government had not given any such orders.
He also said that the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government was free to conduct an inquiry into the phone- tapping charges against the previous BJP-led dispensation.
“Phone-tapping is not the culture of Maharashtra. My government had not given any such orders,” Fadnavis, who is the Leader of Opposition in the state Legislative Assembly, said in a statement.
“The whole country knows the credibility of those who have levelled such allegations,” Fadnavis, who was the chief minister of the state between 2014 and 2019, said.
“The state government is free to probe the allegations with the help of any machinery. People of Maharashtra know the truth. A Shiv Sena leader was the minister of state for home during my tenure,” he added.
“I have a request- the government should immediately conduct an inquiry and make the report public. If it wants to go to Israel for the probe, it should do that,” he said.
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut Friday said that a BJP leader had informed him that his phone was being tapped by the previous Devendra Fadnavis government in Maharashtra.
On the NCP’s allegation that the Centre has withdrawn party chief Sharad Pawar’s security at his official residence in New Delhi, Raut said it could have been because Pawar was instrumental in forming the Shiv Sena-led government in the state.
“A BJP leader had told me that my phone was being tapped. I said if anybody wants to listen to what I am saying I welcome it. I am Balasaheb’s chela (disciple), whatever I do, I do it openly,” Raut told reporters here.
“In spite of the phone-tapping, we formed the government in Maharashtra,” he said.
Raut’s remarks come a day after state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh alleged that the Fadnavis dispensation misused government machinery to tap the phones of opposition leaders, especially during the formation of the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government.
“The cyber cell of Maharashtra police has been asked to look into the various complaints of snooping/phone tapping that came in during the previous government,” Deshmukh had said Thursday.
Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh had earlier also alleged that phones of opposition leaders were tapped by the Fadnavis government. He had also raised questions about the involvement of officials in the phone-tapping episode.
On the NCP’s allegation about withdrawal of Sharad Pawar’s security, Raut said, “It could have been because Pawar was instrumental in the formation of the Shiv Sena-led government in Maharashtra. A few years ago, he was attacked in Delhi. Even the Gandhis’ SPG security was withdrawn recently.”
The Rajya Sabha MP was referring to the Centre’s recent move of withdrawing the Special Protection Group (SPG) cover of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her children Rahul and Priyanka.