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'We're a free country, why tap phones?'

delhi Updated: Dec 01, 2010 01:06 IST
Shekhar Iyer
Shekhar Iyer
Hindustan Times
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Union minister for new and renewable energy Farooq Abdullah came out strongly against tapping of phones, echoing agriculture minister Sharad Pawar's views over the leak of tapes involving corporate heads, lobbyists and media personalities.

"We are a free country…why are you tapping phones? If you tap mine, I could be talking to my girl friend. How does it help tapping phones?" he said, alluding to the row over the leaks of tapes in the wake of the controversy over the 2G spectrum.

Abdullah spoke after releasing MDMK leader Vaiko's book on US President Barrack Obama, titled Yes: We Can —the History of Emancipation of Blacks. Earlier in the day, Pawar said the government should take note of Ratan Tata's statement that India risked turning into a 'banana republic' by leaks of tapes.

Both the leaders had earlier raised concern over the row at a meeting of UPA allies.

Abdullah also made it clear he didn't buy the argument of the government that sporadic tapping was necessary to track money launderers.

"Hawala operators are all over the country. I don't think you have caught them by tapping."

The function was attended by NDA leaders Yashwant Sinha and Punjab's deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and INLD chief Om Prakash Chautala. TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu deputed his party's parliamentary leader Nageshwar Rao.

"I am from UPA and they are from NDA," said Abdullah, who also commented on President Obama's problems at home, saying "he is yet to be out of woods."

Vaiko's book release function was timed to give an image makeover for the MDMK leader who is known outside Tamil Nadu only for espousing the cause of Sri Lankan Tamils. Vaiko wrote the book in Tamil before Obama became President and had even presented him a copy in Chicago in July 2008. As he is an ally of the front led by AIADMK chief Jayalalitha, she sent a message praising Vaiko's bid to speak for the downtrodden.

Senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said the book should be read by the Americans first as it detailed the journey of the blacks.