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India

Updated on: Sunday, August 01, 2021, 01:10 AM IST

Modi govt yet to deny using Pegasus for any reason: Congress

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New Delhi

The Congress on Saturday said the Modi government is yet to deny using Pegasus spyware for any reason, wondering the reason for its vagueness be it used it on citizens instead of terrorists.

Party senior spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi asked a blunt question: “Modiji, why didn’t you use Pegasus against terrorists even while there were 316 terror attacks since 2017.”

He said the BJP government must answer: “Could some of these have been averted if the Modi government used the spyware against terrorists instead of citizens?”

The Congress leader said the French government ordered a probe and found proof of Pegasus used to hack phones of its citizens, putting its national security first. What is the Modi government doing, he asked. The French probe is the proof the Israeli spyware was used to hack phones, he said. Singhvi said the Congress has been, therefore, demanding whole of the past week there must be a judicial probe headed by the SC in India.

He said while France’s national security agency confirms an Amnesty International report, whereas the ruling BJP suggests banning Amnesty International for “defaming India”. He asked: “What is the BJP so afraid of? Why is the government afraid of questions?”

JPC on farmers’ deaths: Oppn parties seek Prez intervention

Opposition parties, led by the Shiromani Akali Dal, met President Kovind on Saturday to seek his intervention in asking the government to set up a JPC on farmers’ deaths and allow a discussion in Parliament on the farmers’ issue and the Pegasus snooping controversy.

Leaders of SAD, NCP and JKNC met the President and handed over a letter signed by the representatives of various parties for his intervention. The Congress, however, was not a signatory to it. The letter by various parties, including SAD, Shiv Sena, NCP, BSP, JKNC, RLP, CPI and CPI(M), seeks the President’s intervention to ensure the formation of a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to ascertain the details of farmers’ deaths during their agitation against the 3 agriculture laws of the Centre and allow a discussion on their issues in Parliament. After meeting the President, SAD leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal said the entire Opposition is demanding from the government for the last two weeks to allow them to speak in Parliament on issues concerning people.

Parliament functioned for less than 17% of total time; `133 crore of taxpayers’ money lost: Sources

Rocked by protests from opposition parties on Pegasus snooping and other issues since the start of the Monsoon session, Parliament has only functioned for 18 hours of the scheduled 107 hours, resulting in a loss of more than Rs133 crore of taxpayers’ money, government sources said on Saturday. They said so far 89 hours have been wasted in the ongoing session which started on July 19 and is scheduled to conclude on August 13. According to the details shared by sources, while Rajya Sabha has functioned for nearly 21% of its scheduled time, Lok Sabha has managed to function for less than 13% of the scheduled time. “Lok Sabha has only been allowed to function for about 7 hours out of possible 54 hours. Rajya Sabha has been allowed to function for 11 hours out of possible 53 hours. So far Parliament has functioned only 18 hours out of possible 107 hours (16.8%),” the sources said.

OBC move: BJP trying to cover up blunder, says Congress

The Congress on Saturday ridiculed the ruling BJP for congratulating Prime Minister Modi for the Constitutional amendment under Article 338 in 2018 to set up the National Commission for Backward Classes to take care of the Other Backward Classes.

Party senior spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi told media BJP is misleading the people to cover up the government’s blunder, harming the interests of OBCs. The government is trying to correct the blunder by amending the law that extinguished the state governments' power to draw up the OBC lists.

He said the problem could have been avoided had the Modi government accepted a unanimous demand of the Opposition to clarify in the law it would not wipe out the states’ power to add or delete names of the communities from the state OBC lists.

That was not done because of the government’s arrogance despite then Social Justice Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot (now Karnataka Governor) assurance in reply to the debate in 2018 that the government has no intention to deprive the states of that power, he said, noting the SC could not find any provision in the Maratha quota ruling to allow the states draw up the OBC lists.

Meanwhile, Cong leaders said Modi tried to show off his govt is pro-OBC by lauding an announcement on Th­u­rsday on 27% quota to OBCs in central list.

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Published on: Sunday, August 01, 2021, 01:10 AM IST
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