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Congress suspends two MLAs from primary membership over horse trading charges

The latest development is  seen as a bid to send a strong message to the rebel faction (Himanshu Vyas/HT)Premium
The latest development is seen as a bid to send a strong message to the rebel faction (Himanshu Vyas/HT)

  • Party’s chief whip Mahesh Joshi had complained to the Special Operations Group (SOG) against the leaders featuring in the tape and demanded action against them
  • The development comes just hours ahead of Rajasthan HC's scheduled hearing of the plea by Sachin Pilot and his supporters

NEW DELHI: The Congress on Friday suspended two of its MLAs -- Bhanwarlal Sharma and Vishvendra Singh -- over horse trading charges in an alleged audio tape circulated on social media. Party’s chief whip Mahesh Joshi had complained to the Special Operations Group against the leaders featuring in the tape and demanded action against them.

The development, seen as a bid to send a strong message to the rebel faction, comes just hours ahead of the Rajasthan High Court’s scheduled hearing of the plea by former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot and his supporters. The rebel group is challenging a show cause notice sent by assembly speaker CP Joshi over likely disciplinary action against it on the grounds of anti-party activities.

“Between yesterday night and now, we have heard audio tapes that have come out in the media. It is clear that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ran a controversy to topple a democratically elected government... Similar events happened in Madhya Pradesh in March where Congress’ government was removed," Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said in a press conference in Jaipur on Thursday morning.

“Till veracity of tapes are revealed both Bhanwar lal Sharma and Vishwendra Singh have been suspended from primary membership of the party. Both have been given show cause notice to explain their role in allegations of attempting to topple Congress government," Surjewala added.

Audio tapes of alleged conversation between senior BJP leaders and Congress MLAs were being shared on social media since Thursday night. The official source of the leak of the audio tapes is not known till now and Mint could not independently verify the veracity of the tapes.

Congress has demanded a detailed investigation against the claims made in the audio tapes, action against BJP and Congress leaders involved in the conversation and finding the money trail of the alleged horse trading charges.

BJP has continued to deny the charges. Just before Surjewala’s briefing, BJP’s Rajasthan unit chief Satish Poonia had called the audio tape fake and added that Congress was doing a politics of blackmail. “The Chief Minister’s Office has become a centre of fake audio clips which are used to character assassinate political leaders. MLAs have denied it and that is their matter but there is an attempt to drag names of central leaders as well," Poonia said in a video message on his Twitter account on Thursday.

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