M A I N   N E W S

Cong, allies split over snoopgate panel 
NC, NCP say setting up commission in ‘dying hours’ wrong 
* No going back, says Cong

Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 4
In a major embarrassment to the Congress, its key allies — the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the National Conference (NC) — in the UPA government today questioned the timing of setting up a commission to look into the snoopgate scandal.

The Congress, however, declared that there was no going back on the probe panel decision and came out with 10 posers to the BJP on the snoopgate controversy. It also asked the saffron party to "come clean" on the illegal surveillance of a young woman allegedly at the behest of Gujarat CM and party PM nominee Narendra Modi. Talking to a news agency, NCP leader Praful Patel said, "The NCP is not for constituting the probe panel at this juncture as results are only 10 days away."

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, too, said launching a probe into the scandal just days ahead of poll results was wrong.

“Setting up a commission of inquiry in the dying hours of UPA-2 is just wrong. I was talking to my dad last night and he felt the same way,” Omar tweeted. He said appointing a judge five months after constituting a commission is wrong. “If the decision to appoint a commission was taken in December, it should have been implemented. To appoint a judge five months later is wrong,” said Omar.

The J-K Chief Minister was, however, quick to go into the damage control mode and said: “That having been said, friends of the NDA/BJP shouldn't read more in to this than necessary. The NC has no intention of abandoning the UPA. The UPA is strong enough to allow for different points of view and opinions. We don't have to agree with each other on every issue.”

The allies’ opposition to the government move came a day after Congress leader Kapil Sibal said a judge for the probe panel would be appointed before May 16. It was alleged that illegal surveillance was carried out on a young woman in Gujarat in 2009 at the behest of Modi and his then Minister of State for Home Amit Shah.

Unmoved by the Opposition from its two allies, Congress spokesperson and Mahila Congress chief Shoba Oza said: “There is no compromise on going ahead with the probe as the matter does not involve any political party, but women of the country who constitute half of the population.”

She, however, ducked questions whether the opposition by the NCP and the NC meant that they were "anti-women".

Oza insisted that the Union Cabinet has already taken a decision (on snoopgate) some time back and it was also announced. "The issue is not a personal business of anyone. How does it matter (that a judge was not appointed so far)? There will be a commission and there will be a judge. Why there should be pressure?" she asked. The Congress also attacked the BJP alleging that leaders like Arun Jaitely were "trying to threaten" judges against taking up the inquiry. “The idea was floated by them that the Congress was not getting judges,” claimed Oza. She also alleged that in order to silence the family of the young architect girl, it was awarded contracts without floating tenders. The party also came out with 10 questions to the BJP, including Modi, Amit Shah and Arun Jaitley on snoopgate controversy, asking them to "come clean" on the issue.

Some of the key questions raised by the Congress are: “Why did Modi as also Pranlal Soni, father of the girl, not disclose the fact that Modi knew the young architect girl for close to five years, since 2005 prior to mounting of surveillance on the woman, her friends and acquaintances?

(With inputs from Amir Karim Tantray in Jammu) 

Cong attacks BJP

* The Congress attacked the BJP alleging that leaders like Arun Jaitely were "trying to threaten" judges against taking up the inquiry

* The idea was floated by the BJP that the Congress was not getting judges, it said

* It also put forward 10 posers to the BJP, asking it to "come clean" on surveillance of a young woman allegedly at the behest of Modi 





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