BJP misused Pegasus to bring down elected govts: Cong

Congress accuses BJP dispensation of bringing down elected govts in India using Pegasus

Surjewala alleged the BJP and the Modi government have murdered democracy by misusing the spyware to bring down the Congress coalition government in Karnataka

Randeep Singh Surjewala. Credit: PTI File Photo

The Congress on Tuesday accused the government of bringing down elected governments in the country using Pegasus spyware and demanded a Supreme Court monitored independent probe into the entire issue.

Addressing a joint press conference, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala alleged the BJP and the Modi government have murdered democracy by misusing the spyware to bring down the Congress coalition government in Karnataka. 

Surjewala was accompanied by Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, former Karnataka chief minister Siddharamaiah and Karnataka PCC chief DK Shivakumar.

"It is now clear that the BJP-led Modi government has murdered democracy and has thrown the Constitution in tatters by bringing down an elected Congress coalition government in Karnataka using the Pegasus spyware," he told reporters.

Also read: Pegasus snooped on Karnataka leaders, their aides just before Congress-JD(S) government toppled in 2019: Report

Surjewala said Home Minister Amit Shah has no right to hold the position and that is why the prime minister does not want a debate on the issue in Parliament.

Stressing that now the chronology of events has come out in the open, he alleged the Israeli spyware was used to murder public mandate by toppling an elected government in Karnataka and wondered whether governments in Madhya Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Goa were also toppled using Pegasus.

'The Wire' has alleged that the leaked snoop list suggests surveillance, using the spyware, may have played a role in toppling of the Karnataka government in 2019. 

It alleged that the numbers of former chief minister H D Kumaraswamy's secretary, ex-deputy chief minster G Parameshwara and the secretary of former CM Siddaramaiah were selected as potential targets for snooping in the run up to the collapse of the JD(S)-Congress government.

The numbers form part of a leaked database accessed by French media non-profit Forbidden Stories and shared with an international media consortium as part of what is called the Pegasus Project.

Kharge alleged that all this is being done by the government to demolish democratic institutions and democracy in the country and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shah are trying to run the country with authoritative dictatorship.

"We want the truth should come out aand a court-monitored inquiry should be conducted even on the role of the prime minister. Amit Shah does not have the moral authority to be in power. We condemn such dirty politics of the BJP," Kharge said.

Siddharamaiah said this is definitely a crime and it has to be stopped. "This type of dirty game should not be allowed in politics, and this is not democracy. In a democratic government, toppling the democratic government, it is a crime, he said.

Also read: BJP launches nationwide counterattack on rivals over Pegasus row

AICC general secretary KC Venugopal said through the latest revelation it is categorically established that this spyware has been used for toppling the democratically elected government and the timing of the snooping clearly indicates that the BJP's main intention was to topple the Karnataka government at that point of time.

"It is very clear that the central leadership of the BJP planned to topple the government by horse trading and they used this spyware in this," he said, suggesting that this may have happened in Madhya Pradesh and other states.

"The Congress party is, therefore, demanding that there should be an impartial, independent judicial inquiry into this matter," Venugopal said.

"The question before this county is who is safe? As far as personal information... everybody has to be careful nowadays, there is no privacy," he alleged, adding that the Modi government cannot run from answering questions.

Also read: Pegasus row: Assam CM seeks ban on Amnesty's activities in India

The government has to come forward for an open discussion in Parliament.

"If they are not guilty then why does the government not agree for a Supreme Court monitored inquiry," he said.

Referring to an apex court judgement on Congress's plea for the disqualification of 17 of their members who had switched over to the BJP, Venugopal said this verdict has "become instrumental" for this horse trading industry in this country. Therefore, it is very clear that this is being done to topple a democratic government and to negate the electoral process of opposition parties, and it must be investigated thoroughly, he said.

"The Modi government has proved that, in its quest for power, it can go to any extent and can undermine democracy and the Constitution," he said.

He claimed this snooping was earlier limited to spying into bedrooms of people and violating fundamental rights but it has now reached such proportions that it is murdering  public mandate by bringing down elected government.

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