New Delhi: More trouble seems in stock for the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government following allegations of phone tapping of at least four senior national leaders, including a Congress politician and another key Congress ally.
The phone conversations of Union Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Prakash Karat, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and Congress leader Digvijay Singh were tapped during the past couple of years, a report in the ‘Outlook’ magazine has claimed.
The phones were tapped by the National Technical Research Organisation, an intelligence agency created in the aftermath of the Kargil war to cover all aspects of technical intelligence gathering.
Phones of Pawar, Digvijay tapped by UPA Govt
As the Opposition seized the matter to corner the Congress, the ruling party is also on a spot with the inclusion of its ally Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Pawar and Congress’ own man Singh’s name in the list of those whose phones were reportedly tapped.
Terming the tapping of telephones of political leaders as ‘illegal and intolerable’, Karat said, "The UPA government has to own up responsibility and take action against those responsible. Further safeguards should be there against such misuse of security agencies."
BJP deputy leader in Rajya Sabha SS Ahluwalia said his party will pursue the matter in the Parliament when the House reassembles on Monday.
"It (phone tapping) is in violation of the Constitution and the BJP will take up the matter with full vigour," he said.
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Nitish Kumar, branding the phone tapping as ‘illegal and undemocratic’ said that such an act was a blow to the Indian democratic system.
"In a democratic set up, no tapping of phone is permissible. I highly object and protest it," he said.
NCP leader Tariq Anwar, in a guarded response, said, "It (phone tapping) is not confirmed yet. Wait for some concrete evidence."
The report had maintained that Karat’s phone was tapped in 2008, when the CPI(M) was opposing the Indo-US nuclear deal while Pawar’s phone was tapped recently in the wake of the IPL scandal. Kumar’s conversation with a national leader on ways to get more Central funds for Bihar was reportedly tapped.
The conversation related to Digvijay Singh dates from February 2007, in which he discussed the Congress organisational elections for Punjab with a state leader.