Pegasus Battle In Parliament, Opposition Draws Up Plan: 10 Points

Monsoon Parliament Session: On Monday, the Prime Minister said the opposition can ask all tough questions but the government should be allowed to reply.

Pegasus Scandal: Several opposition leaders met today to prepare a strategy.

New Delhi: High drama continued for the second straight day of the monsoon session of parliament amid protests and adjournments as Pegasus snooping row escalated. The Congress's Rahul Gandhi, other politicians and journalists are in the potential targets' list.

Here is your ten-point cheat sheet on this big story:

  1. Hours after a strategy meet of opposition leaders early this morning, the Congress and the Akali Dal, a former BJP ally, said this afternoon they won't attend Prime Minister Narendra Modi's meeting at 6 pm on coronavirus. 

  2. Four opposition parties - the Congress, the Trinamool Congress, AAP and the CPM - had earlier given notices under rule 267 in Rajya Sabha, demanding suspension of the scheduled business of the House to discuss the Pegasus spyware controversy.

  3. While the Congress and Shiv Sena have called for a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe, the AAP has demanded a Supreme Court-monitored probe into the snooping claims.  

  4. At a key BJP meet today, the Prime Minister slammed the Congress over coronavirus and vaccination and said the party is on decline, yet it is more concerned about the ruling BJP.  "As an opposition, they should take up issues of people's welfare strongly which they aren't doing," he said.

  5. The snooping row escalated on Monday as Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, poll strategist Prashant Kishor, and new IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw were among the big names revealed as potential targets of Israeli spyware. Soon after the big reveal, the Congress made a no-holds-barred attack on the government, demanding Home Minister Amit Shah's resignation. "This is clearly 'treason' and total abdication of 'national security'," a party statement read. 

  6. Home Minister Amit Shah promptly slammed the opposition, and called it "a report by disrupters for the obstructers", and said the release of the report was strategically timed to coincide with the start of the monsoon session. "This is a report by the disrupters for the obstructers," he said, using a phrase that his critics have often used to slam him - "Aap chronology samjhiye (understand the chronology)."

  7. Mamata Banerjee's nephew Abhishek Banerjee is also on the list of potential targets. The Trinamool Congress staged a protest this morning against the centre at the parliament.

  8. On Monday, PM Modi said the opposition can ask all tough questions but the government should be allowed to reply. Yet, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha saw massive slogan-shouting. When the Prime Minister was stopped in the middle of introducing his new ministers, he curtly said: "Please treat them as introduced." 

  9. With Pegasus vendor NSO saying it only supplies the software to "vetted governments", the opposition parties have demanded an explanation from the Prime Minister. The government's handling of second Covid wave has been another issue the opposition has been raising. 

  10. Shortly before Ashwini Vaishnaw's name was revealed on Monday on the list of potential targets, the new IT Minister quoted the NSO service in parliament: "Such services are openly available to anyone, anywhere, and anytime, and are commonly used by governmental agencies."