Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee skipped today’s opposition meeting about Pegasus scandal, but at a press conference later, she made it clear that her party is at the forefront of the battle over the issue, pointing to her brush with the spyware. “All political parties in the opposition must work together. We will all sit together and work something out,” she said.
Asked who will lead the opposition, she shot back, “I’m not an astrologer… Someone will emerge, I will support”. Asked if she could be the face of the opposition, she said, “I am a simple worker, want to continue as a worker”.
“After the parliament session, there will be talks. There should be a common platform to work together,” Ms Banerjee said, adding that she will be meeting Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
“I spoke to Lalu Prasad Yadav yesterday. We will be talking to all parties,” she added.
The phone number of Ms Banerjee’s nephew, Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee, was part of the alleged list of potential surveillance targets reported earlier this month by a consortium of 17 news organisations across the world.
Ms Banerjee has claimed that her phone has also been hacked and she has been unable to speak to anyone.
The Bengal Chief Minister reiterated her claim today, then amended: “Even if I’m not on Pegasus, if I speak to Abhishek Banerjee, or PK (election strategist Prashant Kishor) it is hacked. If one phone is hacked, all are hacked”.
The opposition has demanded an explanation from the government on the Pegasus issue, in view of vendor NSO’s claim that its clients are only “vetted” governments.
The government has so far said it has not conducted any illegal surveillance – a statement the opposition views as unclear.
Congress’s Rahul Gandhi, whose number was also on the alleged list, said at today’s opposition meeting, “The entire opposition is here… our voice is being curtailed in Parliament. We are only asking if the Pegasus software was bought and if it was used against certain persons in India”.