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Opposition hardens stand on Pegasus issue, Rahul rejects govt's charges on Parliament disruption

The former Congress chief said people need to understand that if the issue of spyware is not discussed now, then the matter would be over
 Congress leader Rahul Gandhi with leaders of Opposition Parties address media on the issue of the Pegasus Project, in New Delhi, Wednesday, July 28, 2021.

Our Bureau, PTI   |   New Delhi   |   Published 28.07.21, 09:47 PM

The opposition on Wednesday hardened its stand on the Pegasus spyware issue with 14 parties unitedly demanding a debate in Parliament in the presence of the prime minister or the home minister and a Supreme Court-monitored probe into the matter.

Leaders of various opposition parties met in the morning and later submitted similar adjournment notices on the issue in both the Houses of Parliament.


Congress leader Rahul Gandhi attended the meeting of 14 opposition parties but the Trinamool Congress was not present.

"The opposition is united for a discussion on the Pegasus issue... We are not going anywhere till it is discussed in Parliament," Gandhi told reporters in the presence of leaders of 13 other opposition parties later.

He also rejected the government's charges over the disruption of Parliament and said the opposition was only fulfilling its responsibility.

Gandhi attacked the government over the Pegasus spyware row, accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah of "hitting the soul of India's democracy by snooping upon its institutions".

The voice of the opposition is being suppressed in Parliament, he alleged.

"We just have one question. Has the Government of India bought Pegasus, yes or no? Did the government use Pegasus weapon on its own people, yes or no? That is all we wish to know," he told reporters at Vijay Chowk.

Gandhi also said the Pegasus spyware row "for us, is an issue of nationalism, treason". "This is not a matter of privacy. For me, it is anti-national work."

Accusing PM Modi of using Pegasus spyware against the people of the country, Gandhi said, "This weapon has been used against India."

"It should be used against terrorists. We are asking the prime minister and the home minister why did you use it against democratic institutions? What has Indian democracy done that you have used the weapon against democracy?" he posed.

The government has been rejecting all opposition charges over the issue.

At least 10 opposition parties gave adjournment notices in the Lok Sabha and at least six in the Rajya Sabha seeking a discussion on the Pegasus issue but were rejected by the Chair in both the Houses.

Rahul Gandhi said the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha are places "where we have to speak and everyone is united on a discussion on Pegasus".

"The government is refusing to allow us a discussion. Obviously, the government has done something wrong, something dangerous for the country. That is the issue."

"We want a discussion in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha where either the prime minister, who has ordered the action, or the home minister, who is a party to ordering that action, because no one else can do it, has to be present. Pegasus is a weapon sold by one country to another," Gandhi said.

The former Congress chief said people need to understand that if the issue of Pegasus spyware is not discussed now, then the matter would be over.

"The prime minister and the home minister have assaulted the democratic spirit of India. That is why we are seeking Pegasus discussion and without that, we will not go anywhere," Gandhi said.

DMK's T R Baalu said the government has given an impression that the opposition parties are against holding discussions in Parliament.

"It's not so. We wanted a discussion from day one. Every day, we are giving notices but the government is not coming forward for a discussion... It is a matter of great concern for democracy. Pegasus matter has to be taken very seriously. Like-minded people should come together to see that the matter is discussed," he said.

Shiv Sena's Sanjay Raut alleged that "the government has indulged in backstabbing and attacked us with this weapon".

Ram Gopal Yadav of the Samajwadi Party said the government's allegation that the opposition is running away from a discussion is "false propaganda".

"No institution has been left out of this snooping and the truth will not come till a Supreme Court-monitored probe is conducted. The corruption in the Rafale deal is linked to this snooping issue," said Sanjay Singh of the AAP.

NCP's Supriya Sule said the opposition parties were united in their demand for the discussion in Parliament on the snooping row.

Later, Rahul Gandhi shared pictures of his meeting with opposition leaders on Twitter, claiming that they were all "united".

"Sitting with the entire opposition is extremely humbling. Amazing experience, wisdom and insight in everyone present," Gandhi said in the tweet.

An international media consortium has reported that over 300 verified mobile phone numbers, including of two ministers, over 40 journalists, three opposition leaders and one sitting judge besides scores of businesspersons and activists in India could have been targeted for hacking through the spyware.

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