NEW DELHI: Parliament is not functioning as the government is not agreeing to the Opposition’s “united” demand for a discussion on Pegasus snooping issue, the Congress alleged on Monday after proceedings in both houses were again disrupted by their protests.
The party also said that the opposition wants a Supreme Court-monitored inquiry into the entire scandal.
Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge met several opposition leaders in the morning in his chamber and decided to give a notice under Rule 267 for holding a discussion on the issue.
Both houses of Parliament were disrupted and failed to transact any business on Monday as the opposition created uproar over the Pegasus issue.
Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said he has not allowed notices under Rule 267 by opposition leaders including from Kharge and K C Venugopal (both Congress), Tiruchi Siva (DMK), TMC’s Sukhendu Sekhar Ray, Elamaram Kareen (CPI) and others as the issues they want to raise are being discussed in the normal course of time.
Rule 267 provides for setting aside the business of the day to take up discussion on an issue. “The entire Opposition is united. Have a discussion on Pegasus snooping issue in presence of Prime Minister or Home Minister. Announce a Supreme Court-monitored enquiry into the scandal,” Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said.
“Parliament is not functioning because Government is not agreeing to these legitimate demands,” Ramesh said on Twitter. TMC leader Derek O’Brien responded to Ramesh’s tweet saying, “We need this in Parliament. Not green tea at Piyush Goyal’s office. Thanks. But no thanks.” O’Brien was referring to Leader of the House in Rajya Sabha Piyush Goyal’s request to opposition leaders to meet over a cup of tea at his office to resolve the stalemate and work out a solution to enable the smooth running of Parliament.
Kharge had earlier given a notice for suspension of business to have a discussion in the presence of the prime minister or home minister on the Pegasus snooping, spying and surveillance scandal.
He said the issue has “undermined our democracy and Constitutional rights” and there should be a Supreme Court-monitored enquiry announced immediately.
Kharge said, “Our demand is that the issue be discussed in Parliament as the charges in Pegasus snooping issue are very dangerous for democracy”.
He said the opposition has been raising the demand but the government is adamant and is not discussing the issue. “The snooping controversy has dealt a big blow to democracy in our country.”
“The manner in which snooping in being done in the country, our privacy and personal liberty and democracy have been finished,” he alleged.
“This Pegasus issue is a very big issue and is a threat to our country, as everyone in the intelligence department is doing snooping on all including politicians, security forces, journalists.”
“If you bring outside agencies to do snooping on us, the information collected will go to other countries easily. Then what will happen to our strategy, security and defence. That is why we want to discuss this issue,” Kharge said.
“We want to tell the government that what it is doing is wrong and is not in the interest of the country and the people of the country, as it is taking away individual liberty,” the leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha said.
Functioning of both the houses of Parliament has been stalled for the past week due to the opposition’s ruckus, and Parliament has failed to transact any major business.
Recently, an international media consortium claimed that over 300 verified Indian mobile phone numbers, including of two ministers, over 40 journalists, three opposition leaders besides scores of businesspersons and activists in India, could have been targeted for hacking through the Pegasus spyware of the Israeli firm NSO. The government has denied the allegations levelled by the Opposition in the matter.