Pegasus row: Shah says 'chronology samajhiye' as oppn calls BJP 'Bharatiya Jasoos Party'

NEW DELHI: A war of words erupted between the government and the opposition parties on Monday over the alleged “phone-tapping” of prominent politicians, journalists and activists in the country using Israeli Pegasus spyware.
While the opposition accused the government of “treason” and called BJP ‘Bharatiya Jasoos Party’, the Centre dismissed the allegations of any kind of surveillance on its part and questioned the timing of the report, which came on the eve of monsoon session of Parliament.
Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee and poll strategist Prashant Kishor were among the potential targets for hacking through Pegasus, according to reports.
Here’s what the government said:
Amit Shah, home minister:
Disruptors and obstructers will not be able to derail India’s development trajectory through their conspiracies. Monsoon session will bear new fruits of progress. The report which has been amplified by a few sections with only one aim – to do whatever is possible and humiliate India at the world stage, peddle the same old narratives about our nation and derail India’s development trajectory. People have often associated this phrase with me in lighter vein but today I want to seriously say – the timing of the selective leaks, the disruptions…Aap Chronology Samajhiye!
Ashwini Vaishnaw, IT and communications minister:
A highly sensational story was published by a web portal yesterday night. The press report appeared a day before the Monsoon session of the Parliament. This cannot be a coincidence. In the past similar claims were made regarding the use of Pegasus on WhatsApp. Those reports have no factual basis and were categorically denied by all parties…. The press report of July 18, 2021 also appeared to be an attempt to malign the Indian democracy and a well-established institution.
Ravi Shankar Prasad, BJP leader:
The BJP strongly refutes and condemns the baseless and bereft of political propriety comments levelled by Congress against the BJP. This is a new low in the political discourse of a party that has ruled India for over 50 years. The report is an attempt to disrupt Parliament, build baseless agenda in country as Congress is shrinking and losing. There is not a shred of evidence linking Indian government or BJP to this entire Pegasus story.
What the opposition said:
Rahul Gandhi, Congress:
Laughs at his fear – Bharatiya Jasoos Party.
P Chidambaram, Congress:
NSO Group, the owner of Pegasus, has said that ‘NSO sells its technologies solely to law enforcement and intelligence agencies of vetted governments.’ It is unfortunate that minister Vaishnaw has started his innings on the wrong foot. The Minister should answer a simple question: Did the government acquire the Pegasus software/spyware?
Nawab Malik, NCP:
If the software wasn’t sold to private individuals, which agency of the central government hacked the phones of journalists, ministers, social workers, judges and industrialists. The Modi government should explain if the alleged phone tapping was done for surveillance. Action should be taken against those responsible.
Sanjay Raut, Shiv Sena:
The Pegasus report shows the country’s government and administration is weak. There is an atmosphere of fear among people. The PM and Home Minister should address the issue and clarify.
Randeep Surjewala, Congress
Modi government is guilty of “treason”. The government’s spyware has “dismantled national security”. Our first demand is the immediate sacking of Minister of Home and Internal security Amit Shah and a probe into the role of the prime minister in the matter. BJP = Bharatiya Jasoos Party.
Sougata Roy, TMC
This is a black day for democracy. This is shameful that the Union government is using spyware to snoop on the phones of politicians, journalists, activists. Even youth leaders like Abhishek Banerjee are also not spared; our poll strategist Prashant Kishors phone was hacked. This only reflects the authoritarian mindset of this government. The union government should come clean on it. We condemn it.

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