BJP ally Nitish Kumar demands probe into Pegasus scandal
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday backed the Opposition's demand for a probe into the alleged Pegasus snooping scandal. Speaking to ANI, Kumar also supported the Opposition's demand for a discussion on the subject in Parliament. Notably, Kumar is the first ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to demand a probe into the alleged surveillance scandal.
Asked if he thinks there should be an investigation into the alleged snooping scandal, Kumar said, "Of course, it should happen." "There has been talk of telephone tapping for so many days...The issue is being raised in Parliament and there are news reports in the media...So definitely it should be discussed and looked into...the whole thing should be made public," he said.
Kumar's statement came at a time when the Parliament is witnessing a stalemate over the Opposition's protest, demanding a discussion on the Pegasus issue in the Parliament. However, the Centre has refused to hold discussions, calling it a "non-issue" and that Union IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnav's statement on the matter should suffice. The government maintains that it would only discuss people-related issues.
Meanwhile, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has invited leaders of 14 opposition parties for a breakfast meeting at New Delhi's Constitution Club on Tuesday. The meeting is reportedly being held to chalk out a strategy to mount pressure on the government over the Pegasus issue.
Due to continued disruption by the Opposition, the Parliament has been able to function for only 18 hours out of the possible 107 hours in the ongoing Monsoon Session. Both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha have functioned for merely 13% and 21% of their scheduled time, respectively. The non-functioning of Parliament has reportedly caused over Rs. 133 crore losses in taxpayers' money.
Amid all odds, the government has so far been able to pass eight Bills during this session of Parliament. While the Lok Sabha has passed five bills in 44 minutes, the Rajya Sabha has managed to pass three bills in 72 minutes.
Pegasus is military-level spyware—developed by the Israeli company NSO Group—which is only made available to vetted government clients. It also made headlines in 2019 for its use by various governments to track individuals. In July, a global consortium of media houses revealed the names of 50,000 potential surveillance targets, including 300 Indians citizens such as journalists, Opposition leaders, ministers, and activists, among others.