NEW DELHI: The Narendra Modi government on Sunday waded into a controversy after reports emerged that sophisticated listening devices were found at Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari’s residence here, suspected to have been placed there by American snooping agencies. Gadkari tweeted that the reports of the snooping equipment being found in his bedroom at his Teen Murti Lane home were “highly speculative”.
The Congress, however, latched on to the issue, demanding that the government and Gadkari come clean on the episode. The party alleged lack of mutual trust among Cabinet ministers of the Modi government. Senior BJP leader Subramainian Swamy, meanwhile, pointed fingers at the previous UPA government.
Reports suggested that the listening devices were discovered at Gadkari’s residence “accidentally” and a debugging exercise was ordered immediately after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the RSS top brass were informed. However, it is not known as to which agency carried out the debugging exercise. Investigators reportedly suspect, primarily due to high quality of the equipment, that the listening devices could have been planted by a foreign snooping agency.
The discovery of the devices, that match the kind used by US agencies like the CIA and National Security Agency, comes within a month of a report in The Washington Post which suggested that the NSA spied on the BJP as part of its surveillance plan for political outfits across the world. Following the report, India had lodged a strong protest with US.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala on Sunday asked that if the reports were correct, then at whose direction was Gadkari’s bedroom bugged. Party leader Manish Tewari demanded that full facts of the matter be laid on the floor of Parliament. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh too asked for an investigation.
Snowden Got It Right
The bug recovered from Nitin Gadkari’s bedroom is reportedly favoured by Western agencies
A few weeks ago, US whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA received official permission to spy on the BJP in 2010, when Gadkari was the party’s chief
BUGS FROM THE PAST
June, 2011: Reports emerge of Defence Minister A K Antony’s office being bugged, electronic sweep is carried out in his South Block office
Later that month, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee admitted he wrote to the PM saying he suspected his offices were bugged. BJP had then pilloried the government, claiming it indicated a rift within the Congress