hits out at Congress over Pegasus snooping row

 Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Wednesday hit out at the Congress over its attack on the central government over the Pegasus snooping row, and accused its leaders of joining hands with those forces who want to tarnish India's image.

He claimed that there is no evidence to link the government with the matter.

Addressing a press conference here, the senior BJP leader also questioned the credentials of those behind the story and alleged “everyone knows their leanings”.

He also targeted Amnesty International, saying the agenda of the organisation, “which had failed to disclose its source of funding, is well-known”.

Hitting out at the Congress, he alleged that it leaders are joining hands with those forces who want to tarnish India's image.

"They should refrain from playing such games which lower the country's image in the eyes of the world.... Today, India has reached to some level in the world which is because of policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and of the NDA government. The way they have raked up controversy, we condemn it.

"By raking up this controversy under a conspiracy, they are trying to systematically assault the country's prestige, which we condemn,” Khattar said.

Khattar also questioned the timing of the story coming as it did a day before Parliament's Monsoon session began on Monday.

"The entire row is timed to disrupt Parliament and build a baseless agenda,” he said and also raked up snooping allegations levelled against the opposition party in the past, including a row involving then Union ministers Pranab Mukherjee and P Chidambaram.

He further claimed everyone knows under what circumstances the government led by former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar fell in 1991 when the Congress decided to withdraw support in the wake of a controversy over spotting of two intelligence operatives outside the residence of its leader at 10, Janpath in the national capital.

Further targeting the Congress, he said it has been revealed that around 9,000 phones were monitored during the previous UPA regime.

He said Parliament would have taken up many important issues pertaining to various sections, including the youth, women, farmers and backward classes, but the Opposition stalled the proceedings.

“Congress'' target has always been that when some good things are to take shape in the country, it joins hands with some forces to derail things," he alleged.

"They are not creating obstacles in running of the government, but in the country's progress.... Congress'' black deeds will never succeed in the country,” he said.

When asked about the claim that Pegasus software/spyware is sold only to government, Khattar quipped, “No, private agencies also procure it from them. Now, it may be that private agencies take it from them privately and not declare it.”

An international media consortium reported on Sunday that over 300 verified mobile phone numbers, including of two ministers, over 40 journalists, three opposition leaders besides scores of business persons and activists in India could have been targeted for hacking using Pegasus software/spyware. 

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