Asserting that the allegations of snooping using Pegasus spyware were not about privacy but an “anti-national act and treason,” former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said “a united Opposition is not going anywhere ” until the government agreed to discuss the issue in Parliament.
The Opposition hardened its stance after leaders of 14 parties met at the office of the Rajya Sabha’s Leader of the Opposition, Mallikarjun Kharge, in the morning to discuss a joint strategy against the Narendra Modi government.
Mr. Gandhi was among those who attended the meeting. Several of them, in a calibrated manner, had demanded adjournment motion to discuss the snooping issue after suspending regular business.
“The Opposition is united for a discussion on the Pegasus issue … We are not going anywhere till it is discussed in Parliament,” Mr. Gandhi said in a joint Opposition press conference.
The Opposition’s aggressive stance also came after what Mr. Gandhi claimed “the government’s refusal to have any discussion on the issue in Parliament.”
“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?,” he asked.
Rejecting the government’s allegations that the Opposition was disrupting Parliament, Mr. Gandhi accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah of “attacking the soul of India’s democracy.”
‘An anti-national act’
“For us, Pegasus is a matter related to nationalism and treason … For me, it’s not a matter of privacy. I see it as an anti-national act. Narendra Modi ji and Amit Shah have attacked the soul of India’s democracy,” Mr. Gandhi said.
Addressing the youth and the Indian public directly, the Congress leader said, “Narendra Modi ji had installed a weapon in your phone. This weapon has been used against me, Supreme Court, many leaders, people in the press and activists. So why it should not be discussed in the House?”
Mr. Gandhi claimed that while Pegasus spyware was used against terrorists and traitors, Mr. Modi used it against India and its institutions.
DMK’s T.R. Baalu said the government had given an impression that the Opposition parties were 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 … Democracy is in peril. 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 said the Opposition was united over the farm laws and Pegasus spyware and accused the government of “backstabbing and attacking with this weapon.”
Mr. Raut said it was not uncommon for Parliament session to get washed out and reminded the BJP of the disruptions over allegations of corruption in the 2G spectrum allocation.
Ram Gopal Yadav of the Samajwadi Party said the government’s allegation that the Opposition was running away from a discussion was “false propaganda.”
Linking the Rafale deal with the Pegasus snooping issue, Aam Aadmi Party’s Sanjay Singh said, “The lady who made allegations against Justice Ranjan Gogoi was spied upon in April 2019 and the government got a clean chit in November 2019.”
NCP’s Supriya Sule said the Opposition parties were united in their demand for the discussion in Parliament on the snooping row and it was for the government to ensure that the House functioned.