Pegasus row: Opposition meets to chalk up strategy against Modi government; Congress to hold press conferences in every state on Wednesday

By ANI
NEW DELHI: The Congress will hold press conferences in every state on Wednesday on the ‘Pegasus Project’ media report issue.

State units of the party will also stage a protest march to Raj Bhavans across the country on July 22 demanding Supreme Court-monitored judicial enquiry on the ‘Pegasus Project’ media report, AICC General Secretary K C Venugopal said in a statement.

“Latest revelations today reveal that telephones of former Congress President Rahul Gandhi and his office staff were also hacked. It has been also reported that the spyware ‘Pegasus’ was also being used to hack cell phones in the run-up to the 2019 General Elections to Parliament,” the statement said.

The statement further said that the “‘Pegasus’ spyware and all NSO products are exclusively sold to Government only. It is thus, clear that the Government of India and its agencies bought the spyware to hack the phones of opposition leaders, journalists, lawyers and activists.”

“In this regard, the party has decided to hold nationwide protests across the country demanding Supreme Court-monitored judicial enquiry on Spyware Pegasus and resignation of Home Minister Amit Shah,” it added.

The names of over 40 Indian journalists appeared on the leaked list of potential targets for surveillance by an unidentified agency using Pegasus spyware, according to a report published in The Wire on Sunday.

According to the report, the journalists who were targeted work for some news organisations in the country including Hindustan Times, The Hindu, India Today, Indian Express and Network18. Many of them cover matters related to Defence, Home Ministry, Election Commission and Kashmir among others.

However, Union IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Monday said there is ‘no substance’ in the media report regarding the use of Pegasus on WhatsApp, adding that the report was an attempt to malign Indian democracy and its well-established institutions.

Speaking in Lok Sabha, Vaishnaw said that it can’t be a coincidence that the report appeared a day before the commencement of the monsoon session of Parliament.

The Minister said that any form of illegal surveillance isn’t possible with “checks and balances in our laws and robust institutions.” 

The party also held a meeting of Lok Sabha members at the parliamentary party office on Tuesday to chalk out floor strategy on the issue.

The meeting, which was also attened by Trinamool, RJD and DMK was held at 10:30 am prior to starting the business of House.

Congress party on Monday demanded an independent probe into the alleged illegal surveillance of journalists using Pegasus spyware and sought the resignation of Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

While addressing the press conference on Monday, Congress leader and LoP in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge alleged, “The Prime Minister and Home Minister are involved in snooping on Opposition leaders including Rahul Gandhi, journalists and even Union ministers. Before a probe, Amit Shah Sahab should resign and an inquiry should be conducted against Modi sahab. If you have faith in democracy and work according to the constitution, then you are fit to be on that post.”

Taking a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said, “PM Modi says he promotes Digital India but today we are seeing it is surveillance India. NSO is saying that its products are used exclusively by the government to fight crime and terror. But they are using Pegasus against people who speak against the Prime Minister.”