The Gujarat 'snoopgate' controversy came into the lime light once again when Law Minister Kapil Sibal said the UPA government would appoint a judge to investigate the case before May 16, the day votes will be counted. Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi also took a dig at Modi by saying he was a “chowkidaar” who keeps tabs on women.
His sister Priyanka Gandhi also stepped in and said, “The Gujarat government has no regard for women; it gets their phones tapped. The Congress respects women and believes in empowering them.”
Sibal also dismissed senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley's comments by saying that “once the commission is set up there is no saving Narendra Modi”.
Arun Jaitley had earlier said, “I will be very curious to know the name of the judge who has agreed to 'lend' himself to the UPA. I will be surprised if there is one. I hope, for the cause of judicial dignity, no one agrees to be a part of this desperate exercise". He added, all judges approached by the UPA have refused to lend themselves for this "political and malafide exercise". He also called it a “desperate exercise by a lame duck government”.
The snoopgate controversy came to light when certain audio recordings emerged between then minister of state for home, Amit Shah, and state enforcement agencies. The person claimed to be Amit Shah had employed these agencies to keep tabs on a woman named Madhuri. Apparently, Shah also told senior police officer GL Singhal to imprison one of her associates for no crime whatsoever.
The BJP leader's defence is that the girl's father had requested Modi to take care of his daughter in order to ensure she does not face any problem. It is said that Modi agreed to do so as the “political head” of the state.
This does not give the “political head” of the state any right to use the agencies at his disposal in order to help out “a friend”. Today, with the rise in the number of issues of breach of privacy coming to light, (such as the NSA-Edward Snowden issue in the United States) it is of utmost importance for the state to protect the constitutional rights of the people.
BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi reached a new low when she asked, “When the girl and her father are not complaining, who is the Congress to speak?”
It is important to realise that today, in the age of technology, the right to privacy is fundamental. In spite of the girl's father offering an explanation, it does not give the state any jurisdiction to keep tabs on a citizen. It merely shows that the government is fully and entirely surpassing its authority. Perhaps, if the chief minister was so concerned about the young lady's safety, he could have approached her rather than monitor her actions.
Today, when we are bombarded with hoardings of various parties promising that the safety of women is their first prerogative and also writing about it extensively in their manifestos, this incident proves to be rather hypocritical. Is snooping the only way to ensure safety?
Only time will tell if the UPA is successful in appointing a judge to inquire into the matter and save itself from sinking.