Accusing the previous Bharatiya Janata Party-led government in Maharashtra of tapping phones of senior Nationalist Congress Party and Congress leaders during the 2019 Lok Sabha and assembly polls, state home minister Anil Deshmukh said he has ordered a probe into the matter.
He said there are also allegations that the then government had sent some officials to Israel and brought software to “intercept” phones of leaders of the Congress and the NCP, which were then in opposition.
“The previous BJP-led government had tapped phones of senior NCP and Congress leaders through government mechanism ahead of the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls held last year,” Deshmukh alleged.
Deshmukh did not name the NCP and Congress leaders whose phones the Devendra Fadnavis-led government had allegedly tapped.
“They had stooped low in politics. We have initiated probe into it,” the NCP minister said.
Speaking with the media in Bhandara district in Vidarbha, Deshmukh said, “The BJP government, before the polls, tried to gather information about what and with whom these (NCP-Congress) leaders were talking to.”
Earlier, housing minister Jitendra Awhad, an NCP leader, said the phone tapping episode smacks of “sick mentality” of the BJP and added it should be probed as to why the previous government did so.
“I only had levelled the allegations. Why you want to peek into the people’s private life? There are political and ideological differences between us, but not personal. Maharashtra should know who is behind this,” he added.
Addressing a press conference, Awhad said he had raised the issue of phone tapping and snooping in the legislative assembly several times.
The NCP minister said he was aware some police officers had visited Israel during the BJP government and sought to link it with the alleged phone tapping episode.
Last year, an Israeli firm was accused of hacking mobile phones of Indian politicians, activists, lawyersand journalists.
Former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, however, strongly denied the phone tapping allegations levelled against his government.
He said phone-tapping was not the culture of the state and his government had not given any such orders.
The BJP leader said the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government was free to conduct an inquiry into the matter.
The Shiv Sena, which is now heading the coalition government in Maharashtra, was part of the Fadnavis dispensation.