New Delhi: Hitting out at Congress over Pegasus snooping row, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Wednesday (July 21) denied phone tapping allegations and said that it is the habit of the grand old party of “hatching spying conspiracies”.
“Our party has nothing to do with spying or phone tapping. If at all there is any party who has a habit of hatching spying conspiracies and destabilizing popular governments, it is definitely the Congress,” IANS quoted the Haryana CM as saying.
Khattar also asserted there is no evidence to link the Central government with the alleged snooping of prominent opposition leaders including Rahul Gandhi, journalists, and human rights activists. He also accused Congress of joining hands with the forces who want to taint India’s image.
“They should refrain from playing such games which lower the country’s image in the eyes of the world…. Today, India has reached to some level in the world which is because of policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and of the NDA government. The way they have raked up controversy, we condemn it,” he was quoted as saying by PTI.
Slamming the opposition party, he added, “By raking up this controversy under a conspiracy, they are trying to systematically assault the country’s prestige, which we condemn.”
Reiterating BJP’s take on the snooping allegations, Khattar said, “The entire row is timed to disrupt Parliament and build a baseless agenda.”
Further, Khattar stoked snooping allegations against Congress involving then Union ministers Pranab Mukherjee and P Chidambaram during UPA rule. “Former Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee`s letter written to then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking him to conduct an enquiry against the then Home Minister P. Chidambaram for spying on him is also not a hidden fact,” IANS quoted him as saying.
The senior BJP leader also claimed that it has been revealed that around 9,000 phones were monitored during the previous UPA regime, PTI reported.
On the question of, as per NSO website, Pegasus software/spyware is sold only to “vetted governments”, Khattar claimed, “No, private agencies also procure it from them. Now, it may be that private agencies take it from them privately and not declare it.”
An international media consortium under “Pegasus project” has revealed that the numbers of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, other opposition politicians, poll strategist Prashant Kishor, two union ministers, Trinamool Congress leader Abhishek Banerjee and some 40 journalists were selected as potential targets of snooping. However, it could not be established that all numbers found on the leaked database were hacked.
The Centre on Sunday (July 18) rejected the media reports and termed the allegations “false and malicious”. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said that there has been “no unauthorised interception by government agencies.”
(With agency inputs)