‘Bigger than Watergate scandal’: Shiv Sena on Pegasus spying row

Updated on Jan 31, 2022 04:41 PM IST

An editorial in Shiv Sena mouthpiece, Saamana, alleged that the Narendra Modi government lied in Parliament about purchasing the controversial Pegasus spyware from Israel

hiv Sena mouthpiece, Saamana, claimed that the Modi government allegedly lied in Parliament about purchasing the Pegasus spyware from Israel, which was reported by The New York Times last week. (AFP/ File)
hiv Sena mouthpiece, Saamana, claimed that the Modi government allegedly lied in Parliament about purchasing the Pegasus spyware from Israel, which was reported by The New York Times last week. (AFP/ File)

MUMBAI: The Shiv Sena on Monday remarked that the alleged snooping using the controversial Pegasus spyware was bigger than the Watergate scandal that had rocked the US in the 1970s.

Shiv Sena mouthpiece, Saamana, said that the Modi government allegedly lied in Parliament about purchasing the Pegasus spyware from Israel, which was reported by The New York Times last week.

Referring to the Watergate scandal in the US involving President Richard Nixon, the editorial said that the American president eventually had to resign following the spying disclosures.

The Israeli spyware Pegasus and a missile system were the “centrepieces” of a roughly $2 billion deal of sophisticated weapons and intelligence gear between India and Israel in 2017, according to the report in The New York Times.

A massive controversy erupted last year when the Israel-based NSO Group hit the headlines with the alleged use of its Pegasus software by some governments to spy on journalists, human rights defenders, politicians, and others in many countries, including India, triggering concerns over issues relating to privacy.

“The New York Times exposed the lies of Modi government. It revealed that in 2017, the Modi government bought Pegasus from Israel for 15,000- 20,000 crore. This is taxpayers’ money,” the Saamana editorial said. It said that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had to apologise to the nation for a small mistake and go through a police investigation. It also added, “President [Richard] Nixon had to resign due to the Watergate scandal. The truth will prevail.”

The state BJP leaders said that as a policy, the state unit does not respond to criticism in Saamana.

In an attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Sena mouthpiece complained that on his whim, the Amar Jawan Jyoti was snuffed out, the historic Parliament building is being shut for a new complex, public-sector undertakings are being divested, and airports are being sold. “Now because he is scared, people are being spied on by using taxpayers’ money. This is destruction of democracy,” the editorial remarked.

Targeting the government’ denial to have a joint parliamentary committee probe, the editorial added that had there been a JPC probe into the matter last year, it would have been a bigger expose than The New York Times story. It added that many countries use Pegasus spyware, but those nations do not have democracy. “Has democracy, Parliament, and Supreme Court been set aside in India? Modi govt should declare it because Modi has lied in Parliament and the Supreme Court about Pegasus”.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Swapnil Rawal is Principal Correspondent with the Hindustan Times. He covers urban development and infrastructure. He had long stints with leading national dailies and has experience of over a decade in journalism.

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