Referring to the Project Pegasus reports, senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad on Monday said, “There is no single evidence that has surfaced that links the government of India or the BJP."
Seeking to counter criticisms of the government over the Project Pegasus reports, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday questioned “the timing of the selective leaks” ahead of the Monsoon Session of the Parliament and called the findings of the collaborative project a “report by the disrupters for the obstructers”.
Shah, in a press release on Monday, said, “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! This is a report by the disrupters for the obstructers. Disrupters are global organisations which do not like India to progress. Obstructers are political players in India who do not want India to progress. People of India are very good at understanding this chronology and connection. And, I want to assure the people of India that the Modi govt’s priority is clear — ‘National Welfare’ and we will keep working to achieve that no matter what happens.”
Without naming Pegasus, Shah said, “The facts and sequence of events are for the entire nation to see. Today the Monsoon Session of Parliament has started. In what seemed like a perfect cue, late last evening we saw a 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.”
Shah also slammed the Congress for the uproar in the Parliament on Monday and accused the party of “trying to derail anything progressive that comes up” in the Houses.
“Just a few days ago the Council of Ministers was expanded with great emphasis given to women, SC, ST and OBC members. But there are forces unable to digest this. They also want to derail national progress. This merits the question — to whose tune are these people dancing, who want to keep showing India in poor light? What pleasure do they get to time and again show India in bad light? To see the rudderless Congress, jump on to this bandwagon is not unexpected. They have good past experience in trampling over democracy and with their own house not in order, they are now trying to derail anything progressive that comes up in Parliament,” he stated.
Earlier, referring to the Project Pegasus reports, senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad on Monday said, “There is no single evidence that has surfaced that links the government of India or the BJP. Even those who broke the story have said that the mere fact of a number being in that database is not proof that it was breached.”
He added, “BJP strongly refutes, condemns the baseless and bereft of political propriety comments levelled by Congress against the BJP. It is a new low for a party that has ruled India for more than 50 years.”
The comments come at a time when reports on Project Pegasus published by digital news platform The Wire on Monday stated that senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, election strategist Prashant Kishor, former Election Commissioner Askhok Lavasa, ministers Ashwini Vaishnaw and Prahlad Patel, TMC leader Abhisekh Banerjee, the entire family of a Supreme Court staffer who had accused the then CJI Ranjan Gogoi of sexual harassment in 2019 are among those whose phones were either breached or were listed as potential targets by the Israeli company NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware.
Seeking to dismiss the Project Pegasus reports, IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said in Parliament on Monday that these were part of an attempt to malign democracy and its well-established institutions.
Senior Congress leaders, including Rahul Gandhi whose number was reportedly a part of the breached database, on Monday launched scathing attacks on the government over the Project Pegasus reports.
“We know what he’s been reading — everything on your phone,” Gandhi wrote Monday as a tweet-reply to his own post two days ago in which he had asked people, “I’m wondering what you guys are reading these days.”
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor demanded an independent judicial or parliamentary committee probe. Since the government has said that it has not done any snooping, this should be probed, he said. “I feel that there should be a thorough independent judicial inquiry or a joint parliamentary committee. We cannot just brush it under the carpet,” he said.
The global collaborative investigative project has revealed that Israeli company NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware targeted over 300 mobile phone numbers in India including that of two serving Ministers in the Narendra Modi government, three Opposition leaders, one constitutional authority, several journalists and business persons.
The Wire reported Sunday that the leaked global database of 50,000 telephone numbers was first accessed by French non-profit Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International, and then shared with 16 media partners: The Guardian, Washington Post, Le Monde, Suddeutsche Zeitung, and 11 other Arab and European organisations.
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