Congress leaders P Chidambaram, Ashok Gehlot and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and BSP’s Mayawati took on the Centre over the recent New York Times report on Pegasus, stating that the Modi government should break its “silence” and address the issue.
Taking a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his recent message to mark 30 years of India-Israel relations, Chidambaram urged the PM to ask Israel for an “advanced version” of the Pegasus spyware. “The last deal was for $2 billion. India can do better this time. If we get more sophisticated spyware ahead of the 2024 elections, we can give them even $4 billion,” Chidambaram tweeted.
PM said that it is the best time to set new goals in the India-Israel relationship
Of course, it is the best time to ask Israel if they have any advanced version of the Pegasus spyware
— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) January 30, 2022
Gehlot demanded Narendra Modi should address the nation on the Pegasus issue to end any confusion on the matter. “The Central government should give a clarification. If the government is clean, then the PM should himself address the nation. The Supreme Court is not able to do hearings on the matter on priority, which it should have done. Who should be blamed?” he was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
Gehlot said that Richard Nixon had to resign as US president in a matter of spying.
Meanwhile, Leader of the Congress party in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has demanded that a privilege motion be moved against Minister for Information Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw for allegedly misleading the Lower House of Parliament on the Pegasus issue.
He wrote to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Sunday , stating, “In light of the latest revelations by New York Times, it appears that the Modi government has misled Parliament and the Supreme Court and lied to the people of India. In view of the above, I demand that a privilege motion may be initiated against the Minister of Information Technology for deliberately misleading the House on the Pegasus issue.”
He also alleged that the government “lied to the Supreme Court when it was directly questioned about the purchase and deployment of Pegasus”.
BSP’s Mayawati targeted the central government on its “silence” over the Pegasus controversy saying that it is necessary to give credible answers and be accountable towards the country and its people. She also slammed Union minister Gen VK Singh for his “supari media” remark.
“The Pegasus espionage case is making the central government and the BJP go sleepless. In this very serious matter, there have been new revelations on a regular basis. Instead of giving reliable answers by being accountable and responsible towards the country, the silence of the Centre raises more questions. The government should disclose (the issue),” the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister said in a tweet in Hindi.
In another tweet, she called out the “narrow thinking of the government”. “India’s name in Pegasus case along with countries like Mexico, Poland and Hungary is no less a matter of concern,” she wrote.
The New York Times report had alleged that India purchased the Pegasus spyware in 2017 as part of a roughly $2 billion deal with Israel, which also included a missile system.
Despite the backlash, PM Modi shared a video to mark 30 years of India-Israel relations on Saturday. He said that there could not be a better time to set new goals for diplomatic ties between the two countries. “This day holds importance in our relationship as full diplomatic ties were established between the two countries 30 years ago. A new chapter between the two countries had begun. It was a new chapter but history between us is age-old,” Modi said.
Taking a jibe at PM Modi for his comments, Chidambaram further tweeted: “PM said that it is the best time to set new goals in the India-Israel relationship. Of course, it is the best time to ask Israel if they have any advanced version of the Pegasus spyware.”
(With PTI inputs)