File image of Rajya Sabha proceedings
Opposition Trinamool Congress' Members of Parliament (MPs) on July 22 tore papers and flung them into the air, throwing the Rajya Sabha into bedlam as Union Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw read a statement on the alleged snooping using spyware Pegasus.
TMC and other opposition party members rushed into the well of the House as Vaishnaw was called to make a statement over the issue.
The Opposition members shouted slogans and tore papers that appeared to be copies of the statement that Vaishnaw was to make.
As papers were flung into the air, the minister could not complete his statement and instead laid it on the table of the House.
Deputy Chairman Harivansh asked members to desist from unparliamentary behaviour, before adjourning the proceedings of the House for the rest of the day.
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Opposition MPs had stalled the proceedings earlier in the day as well, forcing two adjournments with not even officially listed papers being allowed to be laid. They shouted slogans over alleged snooping and other issues.
Reacting to the incident, ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Rajya Sabha member Swapan Dasgupta told news agency ANI: “It seems that some people in the Opposition, notably some of the TMC MPs, got up and took the paper from the hands of the [union] minister and tore it up. This is completely unseemly behaviour.”
The Monsoon Session, to be held until August 13, was to have a total of 19 sittings. Both houses – the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha – will remain functional. The Centre has listed 17 new bills for introduction in the session. The session is the first after the COVID-19 pandemic's second wave wrecked havoc in the country.
The Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha were disrupted on the first two days of the session on July 19 and July 20 by the Opposition members’ protest. While the Lok Sabha couldn’t do business on both days, Rajya Sabha members discussed COVID-19 management for four hours on July 20. The session will resume on July 22 after a day’s break on account of Eid-ul-Azha.
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, BJP ministers Vaishnaw and Prahlad Singh Patel, as also former election commissioner Ashok Lavasa and poll strategist Prashant Kishor were among those whose phone numbers were allegedly listed as potential targets for hacking through an Israeli spyware sold only to the government agencies, an international media consortium reported earlier.
News portal The Wire, in the second part of its revelations from the international collaborative investigation called the 'Pegasus Project', had reported that the phone number of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's nephew and Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee and 11 phone numbers belonging to the Supreme Court staffer and her close relatives, who accused former Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi of sexual harassment in April 2019, were selected as targets for surveillance.(With inputs from PTI)