Chhatarpur, Madhya Pradesh: Amid allegations that a young woman in Gujarat was illegally tailed by some of the state's most senior police officers, the BJP's Narendra Modi, who is running for PM, today asserted that the country's women support him regardless of "threat or conspiracy".
The Congress wants a Supreme Court judge to investigate allegations that in 2009, Mr Modi's close aide and then Home Minister Amit Shah verbally ordered the state police to monitor the movements and phone conversations of a young woman architect. In secretly-recorded phone conversations, Mr Shah allegedly says that "saheb" or 'boss' wants detailed reports of the woman's activities. (Read: Congress targets Narendra Modi for alleged snoop-gate)
"It is clear that 'saheb' is Modi," said Congress leader Rita Joshi today, who described the BJP leader as a "dictator" on whose watch "anyone can be killed or put under surveillance." (Watch) Union Minister Manish Tewari did not mention Mr Modi but said the scandal exposes "the stalking shahzada" of the BJP.
At an election rally, Mr Modi said, "The women of this country offer me such a protective shield (suraksha kawach) that no threat or conspiracy will work."
The allegations against him are pivoted on a series of audio tapes that were given to the CBI earlier this year by a senior Gujarat police officer, GL Singhal. News website Cobrapost and Gulail claim that in the conversations, the Home Minister and the cop are heard discussing the illegal surveillance of the woman, whose identity cannot be revealed for legal reasons.
CBI sources say they cannot verify whether the voices on the tape are really those of Mr Singhal and the then Home Minister.
"No family member has complained," said the BJP's Ravi Shankar Prasad. He also said that the federal system demarcates law and order as subjects for the state government to handle, and that the Congress cannot demand any sort of central investigation.