New Delhi: The BJP on Monday hit out at the Congress over its attack on the central government over the Pegasus snooping row, and claimed that there is not a “shred of evidence” to link either the ruling party or the Modi dispensation with the matter.
Addressing a press conference, senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad also questioned the credentials of those behind the story, alleging that The Wire, the news portal which broke it in India, had been earlier associated with stories which have been found to be “incorrect” while Amnesty International has a declared “anti-India” agenda in many ways.
Those who broke the story themselves said that the presence of a particular number in the database does not confirm that it is infected with Pegasus, he said while questioning the timing of the story coming as it did a day before Parliament’s Monsoon session began on Monday.
He also brushed aside a question on the Congress’ demands for Home Minister Amit Shah’s resignation and probe against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and accused the opposition party of hitting a “new low” in making baseless allegations in a manner that was bereft of any political propriety.
With the Congress “shrinking and losing”, the entire row is timed to disrupt Parliament and build a baseless agenda, he said and also raked up snooping allegations levelled against the opposition party in the past, including a row involving then Union ministers Pranab Mukherjee and P Chidambaram.
Prasad said, “The BJP strongly refutes and condemns the baseless and bereft of political propriety comments levelled by Congress against the BJP. This is a new low in the political discourse of a party that has ruled India for over 50 years.”
Targeting the sources behind the story, he said The Wire was also behind the Judge Loya story. The Supreme Court had also commented on this, and it was all found to be a “lie”, he said.
Judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya, who presided over the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case, had died of heart attack but some reports had questioned the official cause of his demise. The Supreme Court had also dismisses pleas for an independent probe into the matter.
Prasad added, “Can we deny that bodies like Amnesty had a declared anti-India agenda in many ways? They withdrew from India when we asked them about their foreign funding as per law.”
Claiming that there is a conspiracy to target the Modi government as India develops and burnishes its credentials globally under the prime minister’s leadership, he wondered if some people have become “supari agents” (hired agents) for such “international conspiracies”.
He noted that NSO, the Israeli company that owns Pegasus spyware, has said that over 45 western countries have used the technology and asked as to why India was being targeted. The company itself has trashed the reports about the snooping, he said.
The government has been similarly targeted in the past with baseless allegations about threat to India’s diversity and multiculturalism, he said.
He also asked the Congress to not run away from debate in Parliament, and said that the government has made it clear that it is willing to discuss any issue.
Prasad said, “Our IT Minister confirmed today that for lawful interceptions of electronic communication can only be made as per relevant rules under provisions of Sec 5(2) of Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 & Sec 69 of Information Technology Act 2000. Any form of illegal surveillance isn’t possible with checks & balances in our laws & robust institutions.”