Pegasus Row: TMC MP ‘Snatches’ Paper from IT Minister; Chaos Ensues
The proceedings in the Rajya Sabha were adjourned for the day as the protests by the Opposition went on.
Chaotic scenes emerged in Parliament on the third day of the Monsoon Session on Thursday, 22 July, as a Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP purportedly snatched a paper from IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw while he was speaking on the Pegasus ‘snooping’ controversy in the Rajya Sabha.
The proceedings in the Upper House were adjourned for the day as the protests by the Opposition went on.
According to news agency ANI, a verbal feud took place between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and TMC MPs after the purported snatching incident and adjournment of the House, with marshals intervening to control the situation.
'Completely Unseemly Behaviour'
Condemning the incident and calling it a violation of all norms, Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta was quoted as saying, “It seems that some people of Opposition, notably some of the TMC MPs, got up and took the paper from the hands of the minister (IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw while he was speaking on 'Pegasus') and tore it up. This is completely unseemly behaviour… He was making a statement, you had a right to question him after that, but instead of going in for a debate, is this the type of hooliganism we see inside the House?”
A meeting was later held including the IT minister, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi, Leader of the House in Rajya Sabha Piyush Goyal and others regarding the snatching incident.
Subsequently, sources told ANI that the Union government will request the Chair in the Rajya Sabha to suspend TMC MP Shantanu Sen for misbehaving with Vaishnaw.
What Vaishnaw Said in Rajya Sabha
In the Rajya Sabha on Thursday, Vaishnaw reiterated the comments he made on the Pegasus controversy in the Lok Sabha, saying the reports of 18 July appear to be an attempt to malign the Indian democracy and its well-established institutions."
"A highly sensational story was published by a web portal on July 18. Many over-the-top allegations (were) made around this story. The press reports appeared a day before Monsoon Session of Parliament. This can't be a coincidence."IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw in Rajya Sabha, as quoted by ANI
Soon after his address in the Lok Sabha on Monday, a report published by The Wire had revealed that phone numbers linked to Vaishnaw were among the many listed as potential targets for surveillance.
According to The Wire’s report, the newly appointed minister may have been “targeted for possible surveillance” in 2017. Along with his numbers and that of his wife, the numbers of his associates also figure in the list, the report said.
Stormy Monsoon Session
The Monsoon Session so far has seen vociferous protests from the Opposition in Parliament on various issues – including the Pegasus row, the farm laws, and the raids by the Income Tax Department at various locations of the Dainik Bhaskar group on Thursday – leading to both the Houses being adjourned multiple times.
The Pegasus ‘snoopgate’ controversy surfaced last Sunday, when reports published by The Wire revealed how journalists, politicians, and activists may have been surveilled using Israel-made spyware Pegasus.
(With inputs from ANI and The Wire)
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