Pegasus row: Rahul demands Amit Shah's resignation, SC probe against PM Modi

Rahul Gandhi
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi with party leaders, DMK and other parties MPs stage a protest near the Gandhi statue against Pegasus project, during the Monsoon Session of Parliament, in New Delhi, Friday, July 23, 2021. PTI

New Delhi: Upping the ante against the government, former Congress Chief Rahul Gandhi on Friday described Pegasus as a weapon and demanded resignation of Union Home Minister Amit Shah. He also demanded a Supreme Court probe against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Addressing the media outside Parliament, Rahul Gandhi said, "Pegasus is classified by the Israeli State as a weapon and that weapon is supposed to be used against the terrorist. The Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) and Union Home Minister have used this weapon against the Indian State and against our institutions."

He alleged that the government used it politically. "They have used it in Karnataka, they have used it to scuttle probes, they have used it against the Supreme Court and against all the institutions of this country," he alleged.

Targeting the government, Rahul Gandhi said, "The only word for this is treason. There is no other word for this."

"And this has to be investigated and the Home Minister has to resign," the Congress leader demanded.

He also accused the Prime Minister of using this (Pegasus) weapon against the people of the country and also to scuttle the probe of Rafale fighter jet deal.

The Congress leader also said that "they tapped my phone". "This is not about my privacy, not about the privacy of Rahul Gandhi. I am an opposition leader and I raise issues of public. This is an attack on that. This is an attack on the voice of the people," he said.

He said: "A judicial enquiry and SC enquiry should be ordered on Narendra Modi because no one else can authorise Pegasus. This authorisation can only be done by the Prime Minister and the Home Minister."

BJP hits back

Meanwhile, the BJP on Friday dared Rahul Gandhi to submit his phone for investigation if he believes it was tapped, and asserted that no one's phone has been tapped illegally by the Modi government.

BJP spokesperson Rajyavardhan Rathore told reporters that the Congress is determined to stall Parliament for one reason or another after being rejected twice by people in Lok Sabha polls of 2014 and 2019.

Rathore said everybody has the right to what they want in a democracy.

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

The Congress cannot accept the country's development and has been stalling Parliament's functioning often one one pretext or another, he alleged.

The alleged snooping issue has triggered a stormy start to the Monsoon Session after a global collaborative investigative project revealed that Israeli company NSO Groups' Pegasus spyware was targeted over 300 mobile phone numbers in India, including that of two ministers in the Narendra Modi government, three Opposition leaders, constitutional authority, several journalist and business persons.

It snowballed on Tuesday after it came to fore that in July 2019, phone numbers of Karnataka's then Deputy Chief Minister G. Parameshwara and the personal secretaries of then Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, were selected as possible targets for surveillance.

The Congress on Monday accused the government of "treason" and held Shah responsible for the snooping and hacking of phones of journalists, judges and politicians, and demanded a probe.

BJP leader and former IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad questioned the credentials of those behind the story as well as its timing, coming a day before Parliament's Monsoon Session that began on Monday, as he accused the opposition party of hitting a "new low" in making baseless allegations.

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