Pegasus row: Karnataka Congress goes all guns blazing at Modi govt
BENGALURU, NEW DELHI: With reports emerging that the Pegasus spyware was used to destabilise the JDS-Congress coalition government in Karnataka by targeting several leaders, former Deputy Chief Minister Dr G Parameshwara has expressed “extreme pain” that his phones had been compromised. Speaking to TNIE, he said, “This is condemnable. I demand an explanation from the Government of India.’’
He later tweeted saying, "Every time we believe the BJP-led Union Government cannot go any lower, fresh proof arrives to show they can & will stoop to the lowest. #PegasusSnoopgate shows that BJP will do everything, including partnering with foreign powers, to gain power & topple secular governments.’’
Recalling how the coalition government, in which he was Deputy CM, was pulled down, he said he suspects that his phones were being monitored during that period in order to accomplish Operation Lotus.
In another tweet, he said, “This also proves that this is the same modus operandi used by BJP to come to power in Goa, Pondicherry, Manipur, Madhya Pradesh despite being rejected by the people. Brazen horse-trading and misuse of power by the BJP has led to the death of democracy in India.’’
Meanwhile, the Congress has demanded a Supreme Court-monitored judicial probe in the matter, saying it was a dirty game by Modi government. Senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah, KPCC chief D K Shivakumar and Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, who were in New Delhi, accused the Narendra Modi government of toppling the democratically elected government of Karnataka in 2019 using the Israeli spyware.
The party said that the Centre could have used the spyware to topple Congress governments in Madhya Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur. “Pegasus was used to tap the phones of Venkatesh, who has been my PA for the past 27 years. It was used to tap the phone of Satheesh, PA of H D Kumaraswamy, and the phone of Manjunath, the security staffer of former PM H D Deve Gowda,” said Siddaramaiah.
The Congress-JD(S) government fell in 2019 with the B S Yediyurappa-led BJP government coming to power following a rebellion by 17 MLAs from the Congress and JD(S) in the state. Siddaramaiah said that in 2018, the Karnataka Assembly elections threw up a fractured mandate with the BJP winning 104 seats, Congress 80 and JDS 36 seats. As the BJP could not prove majority in the House, the Congress supported the JD(S) to keep BJP at bay.
“It was right before this time, during the horse trading, that Pegasus started snooping on our PAs’ phones. This act was done by Yediyurappa and was enabled by Modi. The MLAs did not leave freely and fairly to join the BJP, but were lured using information by snooping,” he alleged.
D K Shivakumar said that the party MLAs had complained that their phones are being tapped and an investigation is still going on. Kharge said that the matter will be raised in both the Houses of Parliament as Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah have tried to topple democratic institutions. “This is an authoritarian dictatorship. They should take moral responsibility and resign,” he said. Congress leader K C Venugopal said that the report clearly shows their objective was to topple the coalition government in Karnataka and must have been involved in toppling other Congress governments in MP, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.