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Ashok Gehlot shared audio of Shekhawat's chat with Congress leaders on 'toppling' Rajasthan government: Ex-OSD

Sharma's claim marks a shift from his previous stand that he had got three clips from social media and forwarded those to news organisations.
Last Updated : 24 April 2024, 14:49 IST
Last Updated : 24 April 2024, 14:49 IST

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Jaipur: Ashok Gehlot's ex-OSD Lokesh Sharma on Wednesday claimed that the clip of an alleged telephone conversation between Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and some Congress leaders on 'toppling' the state's Congress government in 2020 was given to him by the former chief minister.

Sharma's claim marks a shift from his previous stand that he had got three clips from social media and forwarded those to news organisations.

"I did not get the audio clip from social media. The then chief minister Ashok Gehlot had given me all these audio clips through this pen drive and asked me to circulate it to the media. I followed his instructions," Sharma claimed while showing a pen drive to the reporters.

Gehlot, who is campaigning for his son Vaibhav Gehlot in the Jalore Lok Sabha seat, could not be contacted for comments.

The Delhi Police registered an FIR against Sharma in March 2021 on charges of criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust and unlawfully intercepting telephonic conversations on a complaint by Shekhawat.

Sharma approached Delhi High Court to quash the FIR. In June 2021, the high court granted an interim stay on coercive action against Sharma.

On Wednesday, Sharma claimed that he followed Gehlot's instructions and did not disclose the source of the clips despite questioning by the Crime Branch.

He claimed he was assured full cooperation by Gehlot when a case was registered against him. However, he was neglected and faced mental torture due to the case and the questioning.

"On July 16, 2020, the then chief minister came to Hotel Fairmont where the Congress MLAs of his camp were staying following the political crisis. He left the hotel around 4 pm. Later, I got a call from Gehlot's PSO Ramniwas that he was calling me to the chief minister's residence," Sharma said.

"When I reached, Gehlot gave me this pen drive having three audio clips and a paper with a transcript of the clips. He asked me to circulate those to the media," he added.

Sharma said he went home, transferred the audio clips to his laptop and then to his mobile phone before circulating those to the media.

He also showed the laptop to the reporters.

The phone-tapping controversy erupted in July 2020 during a political crisis when the Congress was running the Rajasthan government.

Clips of alleged telephonic conversations between Shekhawat and Congress leaders surfaced amid a rebellion against Gehlot by his then deputy Sachin Pilot and 18 party MLAs supporting him.

Sharma had circulated the clips purportedly containing conversations about 'toppling' the Congress government.

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Published 24 April 2024, 14:49 IST

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