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Ashok Gehlot ordered phone tapping of Sachin Pilot, rebels; asked to leak audio clip, his former aide alleges

Lokesh Sharma, former officer on special duty (OSD) of Ashok Gehlot, levelled several accusations against the former Rajasthan Chief Minister. Sharma, who was questioned in the illegal phone tapping case, alleged that Gehlot had given him the audio clips of cabinet ministers, and he was asked to release them to the media.

Ashok Gehlot ordered phone tapping of Sachin Pilot, rebels during 2020 Rajasthan crisis asked to leak audio clip, his former aide alleges gcw
First Published Apr 25, 2024, 8:34 AM IST

Former Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot's officer on special duty (OSD), Lokesh Sharma, claimed that Gehlot had ordered the surveillance of party rebels' phones and whereabouts, including Sachin Pilot, during the 2020 party crisis in the state. Sharma further said that the former chief minister of Rajasthan gave him call records and told him to give them to the press.

During a press conference, the former OSD to Gehlot said that he had not spoken up to date even after going through strenuous 8–9 hour interrogations in Delhi by the Crime Branch over the phone tapping case. “The person who was responsible for the phone-tapping incident decided to leave me in the lurch. I was made to take the fallout,” Sharma added.

According to India Today report, he also claimed that Gehlot gave him a pen drive with phone recordings of Sanjay Jain, Bhanwarlal Sharma, the Congress politician, and Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, with instructions to leak them to the media. Sharma said that when it was known that Pilot and his allies were about to address the Congress high command about problems with Gehlot's leadership in the state, their phones were bugged.

"It is incorrect to claim that Ashok Gehlot's administration was being overthrown by the BJP. Sachin Pilot wished to share his thoughts with the party high command over the state leadership. When he and people close to him were planning to go to meet High command, their phones were put on tapping,” he said.

Sharma is also named as an accused in an FIR filed in Delhi in March 2021, related to these audio recordings, following a complaint by Shekhawat. Sharma and others are accused of "unlawfully intercepting telegraphic signals (telephonic conversation)" and criminal conspiracy in the FIR.

A political crisis in Rajasthan occurred in 2020 when three audio tapes purportedly included Congress MLAs Bhanwarlal Sharma and Vishvendra Singh, a middleman called Sanjay Jain, and a person described as Gajendra Singh (suspected to be Shekhawat).  These recordings purportedly captured discussions about orchestrating the downfall of the Gehlot government. Following the leak, then Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot led a rebellion of 19 Congress MLAs.

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