Pegasus snooping row: Rahul demands Shah’s resignation, BJP calls it a plot

By Express News Service
NEW DELHI:  Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah over the Pegasus spyware controversy, saying they have used it against India, its institutions and it’s no less than treason. BJP said he must submit his phone for investigation on the matter.

Demanding a Supreme Court-monitored probe and resignation of Shah, Rahul said Pegasus is classified by the Israeli state as a weapon and that weapon is supposed to be used against terrorists.

“The prime minister and the home minister have used this weapon against the Indian state and our institutions. They have used it politically, they have used it in Karnataka and the only word for this is treason,” he told reporters.

He claimed his phone has also been tapped and intelligence officials informed him and his friends about it.

“I get calls from IB people who tap my phone. They call me up and say please be aware we are tapping your phone. My security people tell me that they have to debrief what I say. They have to report to their seniors everything I say. I am under no pretention that my phone is not tapped.”

BJP’s spokesperson Rajyavardhan Rathore said no phone has been tapped illegally by the Modi government and that Congress is determined to stall Parliament for one reason or another. He said Rahul must submit his phone for investigation.

He also took a swipe at Gandhi, saying even a “junior copy writer” will not be interested in copying his phone’s content as the Congress leader has nothing “original” to offer.

Amid a row over the suspected Pegasus snooping, Gandhi had said earlier in the day that all his phones were tapped.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah allegedly used the Pegasus spyware against India and its institutions, and “the only word for this is treason”, Gandhi alleged.

Rathore said Gandhi’s comments were “irresponsible” while adding that everybody has the right to say what they want in a democracy.

Gandhi should submit his phone to a probe agency, and investigation will take place according to the Indian Penal Code (IPC), he said.

The law of the land prevails in India, and no one’s phone is tapped illegally, he claimed, adding that if anyone has any doubt that some agency is doing it illegally, then he can complain and lawful action will be taken.

“We will now wait for Rahul Gandhi to deposit his phone for investigation to proceed,” he said.

The Congress cannot accept the country’s development and has been stalling Parliament’s functioning on one pretext or another, he alleged, accusing Gandhi of having a single-point strategy of not letting it function.

“We are well aware of his record in Parliament,” the former Union minister said in a dig at Gandhi over his frequent absence from Lok Sabha, where he represents the Wayanad constituency.

He often goes abroad on vacation during monsoon sessions, Rathore said, adding that the former Congress chief is now not letting Parliament function for “manufactured” reasons.

The first week of the session has been all but a washout due to opposition’s protests over a host of issues, including the suspected Pegasus snooping and price rise.

Opposition parties have accused the government of being behind the snooping.

The government has called the entire Pegasus Project as “sensationalism” without having any substance and described it as a bid to malign India.

Rathore claimed that while the country has been progressing, some forces have been trying to stall its development.

The former Congress chief, whose name is also on the list of people whose phones are allegedly tapped, said Pegasus cannot be bought by just anyone as it can be sold only to the government of a country.

“Pegasus was used against the Supreme Court, to scuttle the Rafale investigation. The home minister should resign and a judicial inquiry by the Supreme Court should be conducted on Narendra Modi as no one else can authorise the use of Pegasus,” he said.

(With PTI Inputs)