Pranab may have suspected insider hand

Pranab  may have suspected insider hand

The Intelligence Bureau (IB), which should have been normally called in to secure the finance minister’s office against acts of electronic bugging, was kept at bay and the Union Home Ministry under P Chidambaram was also not intimated by Mukherjee.

Security experts said it could be that Mukherjee might have smelt a rat and sensed that villains within one of the key establisments of the government might have been at work. Seeking the help of private sleuths for electronically sweeping his office to debug is an indication that Mukherjee’s suspected an insider’s hand in the act.

The finance minister wrote a letter on September 7, 2010 to the prime minister requesting him to order a “secret inquiry” about the presence of “planted adhesives” in 16 key locations in his office as also in the room of his private secretary and aides, a section of the print media reported earlier.

Reacting to the alleged security breach issue, Mukherjee on Wednesday said: “It’s bogus, (media) shouldn’t waste our time on it.” Though the IB dismissed the bugging episode, saying adhesives like chewing gums found in the finance minister’s office were harmless, private detectives who went along with the investigation wing of the Central Board of Direct Taxes described the residue as “plantable”.

Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj described the IB’s “chewing gum” theory as “childish” and described the episode as “Watergate scandal” of India. She said chewing gum was found all over in the offices of Mukherjee, his aides and private secretary. “This must be very intelligent chewing gum”, she quipped.

Pointing out that the incident showed there was a trust-deficit between key ministers in the UPA, Sushma demanded a probe. She said American President Richar Nixon had to resign on account of the Watergate scandal even though the CIA’s action was against the Democratic party which was in opposition at that time. In this case, Swaraj said, the electronic sabotage seem to have been done from within, reflecting a “civil war between Mukherjee and Chidambaram.”

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