NEW DELHI: The alleged bugging of Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari’s residence kicked up a storm in Parliament on Wednesday, with the Congress mounting an attack on the ruling BJP alleging that the Centre was now resorting to the snooping methods used in Gujarat.
However, the government strongly denied the snooping charges, terming the media reports in this regard as “totally baseless”.
The issue was raised by the Opposition Congress in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha and the Upper House could barely function in the first half of the day, with the Congress members creating a ruckus, demanding that a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) be set up to probe the matter. The government was equally adamant in claiming that it was a baseless charge.
“The reports of bugging are totally false and baseless and that is why the question of an inquiry does not arise. The minister himself has denied it and there is no need to take the issue seriously,” Home Minister Rajnath Singh told the Lok Sabha. Gadkari was also present in the House.
Rajnath’s reply came after Congress member Mallikarjun Kharge demanded a clarification from Prime Minister Narendra Modi regarding allegations that the phone lines of 29,000 people in Gujarat had been tapped. Kharge said even though Gadkari and the Home Minister had denied the charges, he wanted to know how many ministers and MPs were being pried on by the government.
In the Rajya Sabha, the Question Hour was disrupted twice, followed by two adjournments during the Zero Hour. As soon as the House assembled in the morning, the Congress members were on their feet demanding a discussion on the matter. Deputy Leader of Opposition Anand Sharma noted that when there were reports of BJP leader Arun Jaitley’s phone being tapped, the then Opposition had stalled the House for over a week. “That was only the call records. Here, it is bugging of ministers’ phones... This matter cannot be overlooked by us,” he said.
To that Jaitley, now Leader of the House, said, “There is a difference between fiction and reality.”
Despite strong denials by the Home Minister, there were, however, no takers for this among the Opposition benches, who demanded a JPC report on the matter.
Congress chief whip Satyavrat Chaturvedi said, “Why are you running away from a discussion? It means there is something fishy.”
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu pointed out that the Home Minister had already responded to that so there was nothing further to state.