As many as 18 Opposition leaders representing 13 political parties issued a joint statement on August 4 demanding an informed debate on Pegasus Project report in both Houses of Parliament with a reply by Home Minister Amit Shah.
The leaders blamed the Centre for the deadlock in the ongoing Monsoon Session of Parliament. They rapped the government for refusing to accept the demand for a debate on Pegasus.
“The Opposition parties stand firm on their demand for a discussion on Pegasus issue in both Houses, replied to by Home Minister, as this has national security dimensions,” the statement said.
The leaders who are part of the joint statement include Congress leader and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Malikarjun Kharge, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, TMC MP Derek O’ Brien, RJD MP Manoj Jha, Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut, DMK’s TR Balu, Congress’ Anand Sharma, RSP’s NK Premachandran, and AAP’s Sushil Gupta.
“The responsibility for the deadlock in the ongoing Monsoon Session of Parliament lies squarely at the doorsteps of the government which remains arrogant and obdurate and refuses to accept the opposition's demand for an informed debate in both houses,” the statement said.
The Opposition, the statement said, has also unequivocally conveyed that the discussion on the farmers' issues and agitations arising from the “three anti-farmers and black agri-laws” should follow discussions on Pegasus.
“It is unfortunate that the government has unleashed misleading campaign to malign the combined Opposition and blaming it for disruption in Parliament,” it said.
The Opposition leaders urged the government to respect parliamentary democracy and accept the discussions.
Ever since Monsoon Session started on July 19, the business of both the Houses of Parliament has been majorly disrupted due to the continuous ruckus by the Opposition over issues including Pegasus spyware, farm reforms laws, COVID-19 and price rise.
Both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha have failed to transact any significant business, except passage of some bills due to the continued protests. Parliament could function for just 18 hours out of possible 107 hours since the beginning leading to the loss of Rs 133 crore worth taxpayers’ money as the Opposition disrupted the business of both the Houses, reports said last week citing an official notification.
The Opposition has been demanding a discussion and an independent inquiry led by a Supreme Court judge - serving or retired - into reports that Israeli spyware was used to hack phones of opposition leaders, judges, activists, journalists, and ministers.
The government has dismissed the demand, saying a statement by Union IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnav in Rajya Sabha was sufficient. The BJP has termed the Pegasus snooping allegations a "non-issue".On August 3, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi led a meeting of opposition leaders - the second in a week- over breakfast. Later Gandhi led the Opposition leaders in a cycle march, a symbolic protest against rise in fuel prices.