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Pegasus Snooping: Opposition Uproar in Parliament, Both Houses Adjourned

PTI |
Various political parties have been demanding a thorough investigation and sacking of Home Minister Amit Shah, while the government maintains it had nothing to do with it.
parliament.

New Delhi:  Lok Sabha proceedings were adjourned till 2 p.m on Tuesday after the Opposition created a ruckus over various issues, including the Pegasus snooping controversy. Rajya Sabha proceedings adjourned till 1 p.m amid uproar by Opposition MPs.

In Lok Sabha, Opposition members, including from Congress and Trinamool Congress, started raising slogans and showing placards to attack the government on the snooping issue as soon as the House met for the day at 11 a.m.

The proceedings lasted for barely five minutes.

One of the placards read that while people are suffering from unemployment, the government is busy with "jasoosi" (spying). The slogan was in Hindi.

TMC members alleged that party MP Abhishek Banerjee's phone number was selected for surveillance.

Banerjee is the nephew of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

YSR Congress members also flagged the issue of special status for Andhra Pradesh.

Speaker Om Birla said it is not right to disrupt the House and the government is ready to give answers on any matter.

"Please go back to your seats. I will facilitate a debate on every issue. (But) sloganeering is not right. The government is ready to debate on whatever issues you want to debate on," he said.

The issue of "snooping" using Pegasus spyware has snowballed into a massive political row in Parliament and outside as various parties are demanding a thorough investigation and sacking of Home Minister Amit Shah, while the government maintains it had nothing to do with it.

Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, BJP ministers Ashwini Vaishnaw and Prahlad Singh Patel, as also former election commissioner Ashok Lavasa and poll strategist Prashant Kishor were among those whose phone numbers were listed as potential targets for hacking through an Israeli spyware sold only to government agencies, an international media consortium has reported.

In Rajya Sabha, members of Opposition parties, who had given as many as 15 notices under Rule 267 requiring setting aside of the business of the day to take up the issue they want to raise, raised slogans and rushed into the Well of the House, prompting chairman M Venkaiah Naidu to adjourn the proceedings till 12 noon.

The issues include alleged snooping of Opposition leaders, journalists and vocal critics of the government, fuel price rise and farmers' agitation against new farm laws.

No sooner had the House condoled the death of a former member, Ramadhar Kashyap, members of Congress, TMC, Left and DMK were up on their feet raising various issues.

With the chairman disallowing all the 15 notices as he did for the 17 served on Monday, Anand Sharma of the Congress said either Rule 267 should be removed or the Chairman should consider notices given under them as long as it is there in the rule book.

"These are issues of concern. We should not only read about it in newspapers or see on television," he said.

Naidu said he agrees with Sharma. "There is a need for (rule) 267. I have been there in the House and I understand the problem of national security, something serious happens, you have to suspend the business and then take up that matter."

But this provided the Chairman goes through the notice and then admits it, he said adding the notices given on Monday and Tuesday largely relate to "variety of issues... some of them ongoing for a long time, some of them discussed earlier."

The Chairman said he had received 15 notices on various issues.

Zero Hour is the time when members can raise issues on which they have given notices, he added.

But Opposition members were not convinced and started to rush to the Well as Naidu called for listed official papers to be laid on the table.

As they raised slogans, Naidu adjourned the proceedings.

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