Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Wednesday hit out at the Congress over the Pegasus snooping row, and accused its leaders of joining hands with those forces who want to tarnish India’s image.
Khattar while coming down heavily on Congress for creating ruckus in the ongoing monsoon session of the Parliament over ‘phone tapping’ issue said that Congress has a habit of raising allegations rather than discussing development issues.
“Our party has nothing to do with spying or phone tapping. If at all there is any party who has a habit of hatching spying conspiracies and destabilizing popular governments, it is definitely Congress”, the Chief Minister said while addressing a press conference here.
Condemning, Congress for supporting Amnesty International, an agency that had first published a report about snooping on personal data of ministers and journalists in India with the help of Israeli spyware called Pegasus, Khattar said that in the last seven years, as Narendra Modi led government did not give Congress a chance to raise valid issues therefore like their previous times, this time also they hatched a conspiracy to defame and malign the Indian democracy.
He also targeted Amnesty International, saying the agenda of the organisation, “which had failed to disclose its source of funding, is well-known”.
Continuing his tirade against the Congress, Khattar said “It is unfortunate how Congress rather than discussing development issues is supporting international agencies and left-wing organizations to damage India’s democratic fabric. Congress is not going to gain anything by doing these petty things to malign the image of India. The country is watching them.”
“Congress never believed in running the country democratically. Today, they are raising their voice against ‘phone tapping’ by just believing the reports published in international agencies and a Left-wing portal but I would like to remind them that when Congress was at the Centre, they themselves had used surveillance as a tool to spy on its own leaders,” he said.
Citing an example, the Chief Minister said that several evidences along with media reports are there highlighting how Congress had not only spied on their own party leaders as well as former Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee and other leaders too.
He also raked up snooping allegations levelled against the opposition party in the past, including a row involving then Union Ministers Pranab Mukherjee and P Chidambaram.
Not only this, Congress’s pivotal role in the fall of the then Chandra Shekhar government is also known to everyone. At that time too, Congress had falsely alleged that two policemen belonging to Haryana CID had spied on Late Rajiv Gandhi near his residence 10 Janpath, though Congress was never able to prove their allegations, he added
Further targeting the Congress, he said it has been revealed that around 9,000 phones were monitored during the previous UPA regime.
He said that Parliament would have taken up many important issues pertaining to various sections, including the youth, women, farmers and backward classes, but the opposition stalled the proceedings.
“Congress’ target has always been that when some good things are to take shape in the country, it joins hands with some forces to derail things,” he alleged.
“They are not creating obstacles in the functioning of the government, but in the country’s progress. Congress’ black deeds will never succeed in the country,” the Chief Minister said.
When asked about the claim that Pegasus spyware is sold only to the government, Khattar quipped, “No, private agencies also procure it from them. Now, it may be that private agencies take it from them privately and not declare it.”
Notably, an international media consortium reported on Sunday that over 300 verified mobile phone numbers, including of two ministers, over 40 journalists, three opposition leaders besides scores of business persons and activists in India could have been targeted for hacking using Pegasus spyware. Meanwhile, talking about Haryana, Khattar said that Congress has always questioned the State Government over the increasing unemployment rate in Haryana, by referring to a Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) report which doesn’t even have any credibility.
He said that under the ambitious scheme Parivar Pehchan Patra being run by the Citizen Resource Information Department, almost every family in the state has been registered, in which people have declared their own unemployment, which is only 6 per cent. When the people of the state themselves are declaring the unemployment rate, on what basis are the leaders of the opposition saying that the unemployment rate is increasing in Haryana, he added.