Accusing the government of using Pegasus spyware as a weapon against opponents, Rahul Gandhi today alleged that all his phones were tapped and that his security men had been asked to report on everything he said. He also demanded a court-monitored inquiry, which was rejected by the government.
"I am not a 'potential target'. My phone is tapped, it is clearly tapped. Not only this phone, all my phones are tapped," the Congress leader told reporters at parliament, where his party and other opposition parties have raised loud protests on the "snooping" scandal.
Rahul Gandhi has been revealed to be on the list of potential targets on a leaked database of Israeli company NSO's spyware Pegasus, which is sold only to governments. Opposition leaders, two union ministers, businessman Anil Ambani, a former CBI chief, a virologist and 40 journalists are on the list of 300 phones from India. It is not established, however, that all the phones were hacked.
Mr Gandhi claimed he had been told by security personnel that his conversations were monitored.
"I get phone calls from IB (Intelligence Bureau) people who tap my phone. They say your phone is being tapped. My security people tell me they have to debrief what I say. I am in no pretensions that I am tapped," he said, adding that even his friends received calls informing them that phones were tapped.
"I am not afraid. I don't get intimidated. In this country, if you are corrupt and a thief, you will be afraid. If you are neither of those, you have nothing to be afraid of," he said.
The government has denied opposition allegations of snooping and has denied any role amid daily revelations of potential targets. Mr Gandhi accused Home Minister Amit Shah of "using this weapon" (Pegasus) against the institutions of India, the democracy of India.
"The main question is that has the government not paid for this? Can you buy Pegasus? Can I buy Pegasus? Only a government can buy Pegasus. The Prime Minister's signature, or at least the Home Minister's signature, is needed for it. The military of a nation cannot buy Pegasus," said Mr Gandhi.
The Congress has resolved to take up the Pegasus reports aggressively in the monsoon session, which has been marked by disruptions since it started on Monday.
Reacting to Rahul Gandhi's demand for a court-monitored probe into the spyware case, Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Kumar told NDTV: "We have clarified everything in the spyware case. There is no issue for any probe. Those who are making allegations are political failures and they have no other issue."