Congress's Rahul Gandhi targeted the government today over the WhatsApp breach of privacy issue, which unleashed a political storm this morning. By the evening, as the Centre said it has sought an explanation from the social media giant, Mr Gandhi - who is currently abroad on a "meditational trip", tweeted a jibe, citing the Rafale fighter jet deal.
"The Govt seeking WhatsApp's response on who bought Pegasus to spy on Indian citizens, is like Modi asking Dassault who made money on the sale of RAFALE jets to India!" read the tweet of Mr Gandhi, who accused the government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of corruption in the 36-aircraft deal with manufacturer Dassault ahead of the national elections of April-May.
Facebook, the parent company of WhatsApp, has alleged that Israeli cybersecurity company NSO used WhatsApp servers to spread spyware Pegasus and target 1,400 users across 20 countries.
Among them were journalists, activists, lawyers and senior government officials from India, who were spied on for a two-week period in April before the national elections, claimed Facebook, which has also sued NSO.
Denying targeting activists and journalists, the Israeli firm claimed that it is licensed only to "vetted and legitimate government agencies".
Several activists and others claimed they have been targetted by the spyware. The list includes Nihal Singh Rathod, a lawyer representing several accused in the Bhima-Koregaon case, Bela Bhatia, lawyer-activist Degree Prasad Chauhan, rights activist Anand Teltumbde and journalist Sidhant Sibal.
As Mr Gandhi's party asked the Supreme Court to "take cognisance and issue notice to the BJP government", Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad hit back, saying the Congress had snooped on "highly reputed individuals" at the instance of one family.
In the evening, the minister tweeted: "Government of India is concerned at the breach of privacy of citizens of India on the messaging platform WhatsApp. We have asked WhatsApp to explain the kind of breach and what it is doing to safeguard the privacy of millions of Indian citizens".
Earlier today, the BJP had targeted Rahul Gandhi over his frequent foreign trips, saying he must provide all details to the parliament. The Congress has said Mr Gandhi is on a "meditational trip abroad".
"What is the great secrecy that Rahul Gandhi cannot inform the Lok Sabha secretariat? How does he pay for his luxurious trips abroad? As a public representative and a senior Congress leader, he is expected to disclose details rather than keep them shrouded in mystery," said BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao.