The Congress's allegation that Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat was recorded conspiring against the Rajasthan government with two rebel MLAs on an audio tape, is part of a conspiracy to malign the BJP, the party leader Satish Punia said on Friday. Questioning the authenticity of the tape, he claimed the Congress is pinning the blame for its infighting on the opposition.
"An audio tape was released. It is ridiculous that they have named Gajendra Singh and one Sanjay Jain...he (Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot) was talking as if he is the SOG DG (Special Operations Group chief). Where did he get the tape? Is there any proof of the authenticity of a tape, which was released on social media? Was it properly probed? Was it released from the Chief Minister's residence by some Lokesh Sharma?" he said.
The Congress on Friday released transcript of the alleged audio clip, which emerged on social media, and alleged that the Union Minister and two rebel MLAs -- Bhanwar Lal Sharma and Vishwendra Singh - were trying to break a deal to topple the Rajasthan government. It has demanded an investigation. It has also suspended the two MLAs.
NDTV cannot vouch for the authenticity of the tape.
Mr Punia, while denying that the minister was among those heard in the tape, said the Congress leadership was trying to malign the BJP.
"Similarly, in connection with the Rajya Sabha election, based on a recorded tape, it was said that the BJP was trying to horse-trade? Before that, they had said they would win, and they won. It was said that the conversation was recorded on the 13th but they had locked their MLAs on 9th. How is it possible?
"The Congress party chief and the Rajasthan government are trying to malign the BJP...They are fighting and are blaming us for it," he added.
The Union Minister had called the tapes fake and said he was ready to face any investigation. "The audio doesn't have my voice. If I am called for questioning, I will definitely go," Mr Shekhawat said.
Sachin Pilot, who was Mr Gehlot's deputy, had rebelled last week after he was served a notice to join a probe launched to investigate the alleged attempts to dislodge the Rajasthan government. The MLAs loyal to him have been camping near the national capital ever since, jeopardising Mr Gehlot's government, which claims support of 106 MLAs- five more than the number needed for majority.
Mr Pilot was subsequently sacked from his Deputy Chief Minister post. Earlier this week, he said that he was not joining the BJP and some forces were trying to damage his reputation before the Gandhis.
Sources say the Congress leadership is trying to bring Mr Pilot around.