NDA ally Nitish backs Pegasus probe demand

Wednesday 04th August 2021 07:17 EDT

Bihar chief minister and JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar on Monday became the first NDA ally to seek an investigation into the Pegasus snooping allegations, albeit with the disclaimer that he was “not sure what has actually happened, what has not happened”.

“These days, you do not know who will do what by misusing technology. Therefore, the government should, in my opinion, take an appropriate step after observing all aspects of the issue,” Nitish said. “I know whatever information about Pegasus that is there in the newspapers. But the entire matter - how phones are being tapped, heard by others - should be investigated properly and all facts brought before the people,” he said.

Nitish Kumar said, “If anyone indulges in the act of telephone-tapping with an intention to disturb someone, irritate someone, such a thing should not happen.” On the stand-off in Parliament over the opposition’s demand for a probe by a joint parliamentary committee, Nitish said it was a matter that should be sorted out within the precincts of the House. “The government has already given a reply on the issue in the House. If the government has given a reply, then what is the matter? We do not have the entire information on this. We are aware that there is a deadlock.” Nitish declined to spell out whether he would prefer a probe by a joint parliamentary committee or a Supreme Court judge, restricting himself to saying “it (an investigation) should happen”. His statement comes amid a barrage of attacks on the Narendra Modi government by the opposition over the Pegasus spyware being allegedly used to snoop on a long list of people, including a few from BJP.

No-trust motion planned

As the Parliament stand-off over the Pegasus controversy shows no signs of easing, the opposition is learnt to have complained to Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu about the “treatment of the opposition” amid indications that it is considering options including a no-confidence motion against the chair to lodge its protest.

A joint petition in the Supreme Court seeking a Pegasus inquiry is also being discussed but no decision has been sealed because of a lack of consensus. Sources said leader of opposition in the Upper House Mallikarjun Kharge has written to Naidu expressing anguish at the manner in which the opposition is being treated.

Kharge is understood to be upset that the opposition was not being given an opportunity to speak on the notices before rejection. He is also learnt to have argued that discussions sought under rules were also not accepted. Taking issue with the charge that the opposition was depriving the members of the opportunity to speak, Kharge reportedly said it was itself being deprived during the proceedings.

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