Pegasus: Standing Committee Becomes Battleground For Govt. – Opposition Sparring


The Standing Committee on Information Technology headed by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor proved to be a complete washout. The Committee was unable to debate “Citizens’ Data Security and Privacy” because no officials from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITy), or the Department of Telecom showed up to the meeting citing various reasons.

BJP members, for the second day in a row, staged a walkout as they refused to sign the attendance sheet forcing the meeting to be called off due to a lack of quorum. Questions about the alleged Pegasus cyberattack on more than 300 people in India would have come up during a debate on data security and privacy. On Tuesday, Mr. Tharoor announced that the parliamentary subcommittee on information technology will interview government officials about reports of phone tapping of politicians, journalists, and others using Pegasus spyware, calling it the “most critical subject” for many members.

It is alleged that BJP members protested the committee from the get-go and accused Shashi Tharoor of pushing the Congress agenda. “TMC MP Mahua Moitra thrice called me a “Bihari goonda”,” BJP’s Nishikant Dubey complained while also accusing Shashi Tharoor of having taken a “contract to end the Parliamentary tradition of standing committees.”

Additionally, earlier that day in Lok Sabha  during zero hour, he moved a privilege motion against Mr. Tharoor.

In response to this, Mahua Moitra posted tweets to bring attention to Mr. Dubey’s hypocrisy.  

Mr. Tharoor, on the other hand, had made his decision to have the IT panel investigate the accusation of snooping using the Pegasus spyware public and had given multiple media interviews.

“All BJP MPs boycotted the IT committee meeting because of Shashi Tharoor’s personal agenda. When the House is functioning, how can meetings be scheduled at the same time? It is our job as MPs to help Parliament function. I had raised the issue during the last session as well,” Mr. Dubey said.

Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi maintained that the allegations of snooping did not only bring up privacy concerns but are also “anti-national and acts of treason.” A united opposition will not go anywhere until the government agreed to discuss the issue, he added.

“We just have one question. Has the Government of India bought Pegasus, yes or no? Did the government use Pegasus weapon on its own people, yes or no?,” he asked.

Officials from the ministry of electronics, information and technology and the ministry of home affairs had been summoned for the meeting. However, when they refused to show up, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Congress National spokesperson tweeted “Simple rqst 2discuss #Pegasus not agreed by govt last two weeks. Says discuss outside parl!! #IT standing comm obstructed-10 bjp MPs do not sign attendance &officials brazenly skip 1hr b4 meeting! #Govt not saying-we never bought or used Pegasus! Who is obstructing? who is hiding?”