Day 1 of Monsoon Session turns chaotic; PM takes a dig at Oppn

Ashwini Vaishnaw says any form of illegal surveillance is not possible in India

The opposition raised slogans disrupting Modi’s address and later took to the floor of the House | Photo: iStock

Prime Minister Narendra Modi could not introduce his newly inducted cabinet minister in Parliament on Monday amid uproar from the opposition. The chaos continued in the House until it was adjourned till 2pm.

Amid the uproar, the PM said, “I thought that there would be enthusiasm in Parliament as so many women, Dalits, tribals have become Ministers. This time our colleagues from agricultural and rural background, OBC community, have been given berth in Council of Ministers.”

But the opposition raised slogans disrupting Modi’s address and later took to the floor of the House.

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Also read: Pegasus scandal: Gandhi, Prashant Kishor on list of potential snoop targets

“Perhaps some people are not happy if the country’s women, OBCs, farmers’ sons become ministers. That is why they don’t even allow their introduction: Prime Minister Narendra Modi introduces his Council of Ministers in the Lok Sabha, amid uproar by the Opposition MPs,” PM Modi said.

Earlier this month, PM Modi had added 36 new ministers to his government, in the first cabinet reshuffle since he was elected for a second term in 2019.

Several parties, including the Congress, SAD, CPI-M on Monday had moved adjournment notices to discuss farm laws, fuel price hikes and related issues in the parliament.

Also in news were the revelations that Israeli company NSO Group’s spyware Pegasus was found to have targeted 300 Indian telephone numbers, including that of two Union cabinet ministers, three Opposition leaders, a constitutional authority and several journalists, scientists and businessmen.

Among those who was targeted was IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, who said in the Lok Sabha that the Pegasus Project was an attempt to malign India’s democracy and its well-established institutions.

He also said any form of illegal surveillance is not possible in India. “A highly sensational story was published by a web portal [The Wire] last night. Many over-the-top allegations made around this story. The press reports appeared a day before the Monsoon Session of Parliament. This can’t be a coincidence…In the past, similar claims were made regarding the use of Pegasus on WhatsApp. Those reports had no factual basis and were denied by all parties. Press reports of 18 July 2021 also appear to be an attempt to malign Indian democracy and its well-established institutions.” he said.

“Requests for lawful interceptions of electronic communication are made as per relevant rules under provisions of Sec 5(2) of Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 & Section 69 of Information Technology Act 2000. Each case of interception is approved by the competent authority. Any form of illegal surveillance isn’t possible with checks and balances in our laws and robust institutions. In India, there’s a well-established procedure through which lawful interception of electronic communication is carried out for purpose of national security.”

Both Houses have been adjourned till 11 am on Tuesday.

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