Pegasus row: Both houses of Parliament adjourned amid Opposition ruckus

Members of opposition parties in Rajya Sabha, who had given as many as 15 notices under rule 267, raised slogans and rushed into the Well of the House, prompting an immediate adjournement. 

Published: 20th July 2021 12:04 PM  |   Last Updated: 20th July 2021 01:00 PM   |  A+A-

TMC MPs display placards as they stage a protest over the issue of surveillance during the Monsoon Session of Parliament. (Photo | PTI)


NEW DELHI: Rajya Sabha proceedings were adjourned twice during the pre-lunch period on Tuesday after uproar by opposition members over various issues including the Pegasus snooping issue.

The House was first adjourned for a few minutes after it met in the morning and then again soon after it met at 12 PM.

Members of the Congress, TMC, left parties rushed to the well as the House reassembled at 12 and started raising slogans.

They were also carrying placards with them.

Protesting members ignored the requests made by deputy chairman Harivansh to allow the Question Hour to function.

"Please go back to tour seats. Let the Question Hour continue. This is your time," he said urging the members to return to their seats and allow the House to function.

After continued uproar and sloganeering by opposition members, he adjourned the House till 1 PM.

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He said members of various parties had met the Chairman, who decided that the House will take up a discussion on COVID-19 at 1 PM.

Earlier in the morning, opposition parties obstructed regular business over various issues, including the Pegasus snooping controversy.

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 the 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.

The 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.

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As they raised slogans, Naidu adjourned the proceedings.

Lok Sabha proceedings were adjourned too till 2 pm on Tuesday.

Opposition members, including from the Congress and the TMC, 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 am.

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.

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

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

YSRCP 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.

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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.

Meanwhile, Congress, Trinamool Congress (TMC), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) held a meeting at Parliament and decided to raise the issue of Pegasus in both the Houses.

Although, Opposition parties are likely to meet again at 2 pm to take a decision over attending the briefing of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on COVID today.

Reacting on the Pegasus issue, Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said, "Have you ever heard of the usage of the intelligence system (Pegasus) by Congress and spying of this kind? This is a strategy of making new India."

Congress party on Monday demanded an independent probe into the alleged illegal surveillance of journalists using Pegasus spyware and sought the resignation of Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

While addressing the press conference on Monday, Congress leader and LoP in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge alleged, "The Prime Minister and Home Minister are involved in snooping on Opposition leaders including Rahul Gandhi, journalists, and even Union ministers. Before a probe, Amit Shah Sahab should resign and an inquiry should be conducted against Modi Sahab. If you have faith in democracy and work according to the constitution, then you are fit to be on that post."

(With ANI Inputs)


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