Pega Sussed Out: Opposition Ready, Government Has “Strong Defense”

Monsoon session of Parliament: The government is slated to bring in 29 bills and two financial bills

New Delhi:

The monsoon session of Parliament begins today amid reports that phone numbers of Indian ministers, opposition leaders and journalists have been found on a database of targets for hacking.

The allegations regarding government surveillance on specific people has no concrete basis or truth associated with it whatsoever, the centre has said in its response. The government will not back down from putting up a strong defence in the Pegasus spyware scandal, sources have told NDTV.

“Our national security is under threat. I will definitely raise this issue (in the house),” Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury was quoted saying by news agency ANI this morning.

The Trinamool has submitted six notices in both the houses to discuss petrol price hike, repeal of farm laws, vaccination solution, decline in economic growth, restoration of MPLAD funds and a weakening federal structure.

The CPI has given suspension of business notice in the Rajya Sabha to discuss Pegasus snoopgate.

On Sunday, opposition parties objected to the government’s offer for a joint address to all MPs by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Covid at the Parliament annexe. They said the move aims to “bypass” norms at a time when Parliament is in session.

Leaders, including from the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the CPI(M), also said that when the Covid pandemic and issues related to it can be discussed on the floor of the House, what was the need to go “outside”.

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The annexe is a separate building within the premises of the Parliament complex.

In an all-party meeting yesterday, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi announced that PM Modi will address MPs of both the Houses — Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha — on July 20 and speak on the pandemic.

“What is the need to go outside Parliament? Any address should be on the floor of the House. This is another idea to bypass Parliament. Stop making a mockery of Parliament. How far will Modi and (Union Home Minister Amit) Shah go? Just when we thought that they cannot go lower, they want to make a presentation in the annexe and not on the floor of the House,” TMC Rajya Sabha member Derek O’Brien, who was at the meeting, said.

The meeting was attended by 33 parties ahead of the monsoon session, which will conclude on August 13.

“MPs do not want fancy power point presentations on COVID-19 from the PM or this government in some conference room. Parliament will be in session. Come to the floor of the House,” Mr O’Brien said.

“It is highly irregular for the government to do this. When Parliament is in session, any address or presentation the government wants to make, it has to be done from inside Parliament. Our stand on this has been very clear,” CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said.

Mr O’Brien claimed all opposition leaders present in the meeting, including Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, the Samajwadi Party’s Ramgopal Yadav, and BSP’s Satish Misra, refused to be addressed outside Parliament, PTI reported.

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At yesterday’s meeting, PM Modi underscored that his government is ready for debate on any topic as per house rules, adding that talks must be constructive and positive.

The government is slated to bring in 29 bills and two financial bills during the session.

On day one, the Prime Minister will introduce the newly inducted ministers to both the Houses. It is the convention after the formation of a new government or an expansion or reshuffle in the Union Council of Ministers.

Both the houses will sit simultaneously and proceedings will start from 11 am.

Since the pandemic began, three sessions of Parliament were curtailed while the winter session last year had to be cancelled.

The monsoon session, which usually starts in July, had begun in September last year due to the raging pandemic.

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