Monday's parliament session is headed to be stormy as the opposition is planning to corner the government over allegations of telephone tapping of key political leaders and wants to demand suspension of Question Hour to discuss the issue.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesman Shahnawaz Hussain, describing the alleged phone-tapping as harking back to the "days of Emergency" (1975-77) and a "very serious issue", said the prime minister should make a statement on it and a joint parliamentary committee should probe the charges.
Hussain told IANS that the BJP would give a notice to suspend the Question Hour and discuss the phone-tappipng issue.
Senior BJP leader L.K. Advani said a new legislation should be made in place of the outdated Indian Telephone Act to protect citizens' privacy.
It is a "shocking report describing how the government of India has been making use of the latest phone tapping technology to prepare records of telephonic conversations of prominent political leaders, including chief ministers like Nitish Kumar, union ministers like Sharad Pawar, communist leaders like Prakash Karat and the Congress party's own office bearers like its general secretary Digvijay Singh," Advani said in his blog.
Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader in the Lok Sabha, Basudeb Acharia said the party would demand that the prime minister make a statement on the issue.
"The Question Hour should be suspended and the issue should be discussed. I will ask the prime minister to make a statement," Acharia said.
The allegations of phone-tapping, made in a report by news magazine Outlook, come at a time when the Congress is already battling the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket storm that has led to the exit of one minister and cast a shadow on two others, including Pawar. These allegations also precede crucial vote in parliament on the national budget for 2010-11.
The opposition has been threatening to introduce cut motions in the Lok Sabha in a bid to defeat the finance bill, a development that could seriously embarrass the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.
Digvijay Singh, however, said Saturday that he did not believe the "story" of phone-tapping, "because Manmohan Singh's government cannot do such an unethical and illegal task".
He also said that since the "story has come, it should be inquired into".