Chaos ensued in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday after Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Santanu Sen snatched and tore Union Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw’s statement on the Pegasus spyware controversy. The incident took place on the third day of the Monsoon Session of the Parliament.
TMC and other opposition party members rushed into the well of the House when Ashwini Vaishnaw was called to make a statement over the issue. As Ashwini Vaishnaw rose to speak on the Pegasus media reports, Santanu Sen snatched the statement from Vaishnaw’s hands, tore it and flung the pieces in the air, triggering ruckus in the Rajya Sabha.
Following the uproar, Ashwini Vaishnaw could not complete his statement and instead laid a copy of it on the table of the House and said, “A highly sensational story was published by a web portal on July 18, 2021. Many over-the-top allegations made around this story. The press reports appeared a day before monsoon session of Parliament. This can’t be a coincidence.”
“All concerned parties have already denied such reports and I request all the members to go through the detail report,” Ashwini Vaishnaw said.
Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri and TMC MP Shantanu Sen also got involved in the heated exchange of words.
Deputy Chairman Harivansh then asked members to desist from unparliamentary behaviour, and later adjourned the Rajya Sabha till 11 am on Friday.
Speaking to media after the ruckus in the Rajya Sabha, BJP Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta said, “He was making a statement. You had the right to question him after that. But instead of going in for a debate, is this the type of hooliganism we see inside the House? This is completely against all norms, I think it should be condemned out right.”
“It seems that some people of Opposition, notably some of the TMC MPs, got up & took the paper from the hands of the Minister (IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw while he was speaking on ‘Pegasus’) & tore it up. This is completely unseemly behaviour,” Swapan Dasgupta said.
Another BJP MP Mahesh Poddar condemned the incident and said, “When they [TMC] can kill their opponents in Bengal and misbehave with women, they can do anything. Today, they snatched paper & tore it, it won’t be a surprise if they tear clothes tomorrow. I condemn it.”
Samajwadi Party MP Ram Gopal Yadav said, “If someone snatched away the paper then it is not right. I was late and could not see the whole thing.”
Meanwhile, in a video released by ANI, TMC MP Sukhendu Sekhar Roy can be seen evading a question on the MPs of the party snatching away a paper from the hands of Ashwini Vaishnaw.
ABOUT PEGASUS CONTROVERSY
The row over the Pegasus spyware erupted after news portals including the Washington Post and the Guardian published a report claiming that Israeli spyware was used in several countries including in India for possible spying on activists, politicians, judges and journalists among others. Most of these prominent individuals were allegeldy targeted between 2018 and 2019, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
Israeli surveillance company, NSO Group, sells Pegasus spyware worldwide. Ever since reports of Pegasus surfaced, it has led to a political storm in the country. While the Opposition has been attacking the government over the issue, the government has denied any involvement in the entire matter.