Union IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw speaks in the Lok Sabha on the first day of the monsoon session of Parliament in New Delhi on Monday, July 19. (PTI)
Union IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw speaks in the Lok Sabha on the first day of the monsoon session of Parliament in New Delhi on Monday, July 19. (PTI)

Vaishnaw expected to speak in Rajya Sabha today about Pegasus Project

Vaishnaw and another Union minister were among prominent people potentially targeted by Israeli phone hacking software, an international investigative consortium reported on Monday
By Vanshika Yadav
UPDATED ON JUL 20, 2021 10:19 AM IST

Union electronics and information technology minister Ashwini Vaishnaw is expected to speak in Rajya Sabha about the Pegasus hacking controversy, according to the agenda of Parliament for the second day of the Monsoon Session on Tuesday.

Vaishnaw and another Union minister were among prominent people potentially targeted by Israeli phone hacking software, an international investigative consortium reported on Monday. The report sparked a political storm on the first day of the monsoon session.

Vaishnaw on Monday rejected the reports suggesting India used the spyware Pegasus to infiltrate phones of journalists, activists, opposition leaders, and ministers. He called them nothing but an “attempt to malign Indian democracy and its well-established institutions”.

Vaishnaw, who was making his first speech as the minister in Parliament, said that the “highly sensational story” has made several “over the top allegations” but there is “no substance behind them”.

Click here for LIVE updates of the monsoon session

“It is not a coincidence that the reports have been published a day before the Monsoon Session of Parliament,” said Vaishnaw, who was just minutes later named as one of the ministers who may have been targeted.

To be sure, as the methodology of the investigation explains, the presence of a number does not indicate the individual’s phone was hacked — just that it was of interest. The government has denied any involvement.

Union home minister Amit Shah is also scheduled to move a motion for naming a member of the Committee of Parliament on Official Language. The Committee reviews the advancement of Hindi for official purposes.

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present statements related to supplementary demands, demands for excess grants, and for consideration and passage of the Factoring Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

Two other bills presented on Monday, the National Institutes of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management Bill, 2021, and the Marine Aids to Navigation Bill, 2021 will also be taken up.

Reports of the Public Accounts Committee, which audits revenues and expenditure of the government, will also be presented in Parliament.

Rajya Sabha will begin the day with an obituary reference for Ramadhar Kashyap from Chhattisgarh.

Sloganeering and protests by the Opposition prompted repeated adjournments of the parliamentary proceedings on Monday.

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