5:04 pm - Thursday January 17, 2019

Opposition demands judicial probe, PM statement on bugging issue

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Opposition Opposition led by Congress on Thursday upped the ante against the Government on the bugging issue demanding a judicial probe and a statement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the matter which, they said, has put NDA’s credibility at stake.

There were sharp exchanges between the opposition members and the treasury benches over the issue, with the opposition adamant on a debate saying it is a breach of privilege over which the government can even be dismissed.

“When Ministers’, MPs’ phones are tapped, secrecy is breached. People’s faith in the Council of Ministers has been shaken. To help restore that faith, constitute a judicial committee to probe the matter,” Pramod Tiwari (Cong) said, raising a point of order.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venakaih Naidu, however, dismissed the demand saying, “I have to set the record straight. There is no need of a inquiry without any substantive reason.”

The Upper House saw three adjournments — two in the Question Hour and another in the Zero Hour — and no business could be taken up during the pre-lunch sitting for the second day in succession except laying of papers.

The Chair ruled that there was no point of order as Home Minister Rajnath Singh has already stated that there is no truth in the allegations of bugging.

“As far as Chair is concerned, available material is only the statement of the Home Minister. I am unable to find any substantial material to prove that (bugging). Therefore, I cannot allow the question of privilege. The Chair cannot go by newspaper reports. It has to go by facts,” Mr. Kurien said while refusing a point of order raised by opposition members.

For the second consecutive day proceedings in the Rajya Sabha were disrupted with the Opposition insisting on a discussion over the alleged bugging of Union Minister Nitin Gadkari’s residence. As the Chairman Hamid Ansari announced commencement of question hour Congress members rose seeking immediate discussion on bugging issue saying that notices have been given for the same.

Deputy Leader of the Congress in the House Anand Sharma contended that surveillance of ministers is a serious matter and there has to be a comprehensive probe into the charges. Minister of State for Environment and Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar asserted that the Home Minister Rajnath Singh and the concerned have already made a statement categorically refuting the speculations and there was nothing to discuss.

Repeated appeals by Mr. Ansari to allow question hour to proceed went unheeded. Initially he adjourned the house for 15 minutes and subsequently till 12 pm after Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu vehemently turned down the demand for a discussion and statement on the ground that there was no scope for it.

Satyavrat Chaturvedi (Congress) argued that statement by the government has no meaning as it is an accused in the case. The Deputy Chairman ruled that those who want a discussion should give a notice and the Chairman would take a decision on it. As members persisted with their demand the Deputy Chairman adjourned the house till 2 p.m.

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