Panaji, Jan 2 (IANS) As the NDA government went on the back foot in Parliament over an audio clip originating from Goa, the state BJP had to resort to desperate trouble-shooting to counter allegations made by the Congress over the issue.
The audio clip involves Goa Health Minister Vishwajit Rane purportedly claiming that Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, during a recent cabinet meeting, had claimed that files related to the Rafale deal were stored in his bedroom.
A Goa BJP spokesperson has accepted that the taped conversation has the potential to damage the party’s reputation, even though Rane has demanded a probe into “doctoring” of the audio clip.
The Congress appealed to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to raid the former Defence Minister’s bedroom and seize files related to the Rafale fighter jet deal and sought protection for Parrikar as well as the yet-to-be-identified person, who Rane is speaking to in the audio clip.
Parrikar was the Defence Minister from 2014-17.
An hour after Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala in Delhi released the audio of a telephonic conversation in Delhi, Rane addressed a press conference in Goa claiming the 2:24-minute clip was doctored and demanded that Parrikar probe the matter.
“The audio which is going viral is doctored. The CM should direct the DGP to probe this… Manohar Parrikar never talked about Rafale… They (Congress) are trying to sensationalise Rafale. Central agencies should probe so that these things can come out,” Rane said, adding that he had spoken to both Parrikar, as well as BJP national president Amit Shah.
The Congress, meanwhile, upped the ante demanding action by the Union Home Ministry because the matter dealt with “national security”.
“In national interest, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh should order the agencies under his Ministry and other Central agencies to raid Parrikar’s house and his bedroom and seize the files in his possession,” Congress spokesperson Siddhanath Buyao told a press conference on Wednesday.
He also said, that the CM as well as ministers present at the cabinet meeting held on December 21, should be put through a lie-detector test to ascertain the veracity of Rane’s statement.
Parrikar, who is suffering from advanced pancreatic cancer, is currently recuperating at his private residence, where the cabinet meeting in question was held.
Buyao also sough protection for Parrikar as well as the individual speaking to Rane in the telephone conversation.
“He (CM) can meet the fate of judge Loya or Haren Pandya, because this statement was made by Parrikar according to Vishwajit Rane. Even Parrikar should be given security, now that Parrikar has said those (Rafale) files are with me,” Buyao said.
Meanwhile, in a press conference held at the state BJP office late on Wednesday, accused Buyao, who is incidentally a musician who also owns a recording studio, of possibly doctoring the audio clip.
“There are so many mimicry artistes. Maybe the audio clip was doctored at Buyao’s recording studio… The CM should get to the bottom of the matter. The Health Minister has already written to the Chief Minister to investigate this,” said BJP spokesperson Nilesh Cabral.
Cabral also blamed the Congress for raking a “cooked up story” in order to malign the ruling dispensation, while also stating that the audio clip had the potential to damage the BJP’s reputation.
“Damage is something which we cannot ascertain (but) it is done by the audio clip,” Cabral said.