Protests Disrupt Business in Parliament Over Pegasus Issue; Congress Calls for All-Party Meet

After multiple adjournments in both Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, both the houses were adjourned till 11 am on Friday.

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New Delhi: For the eighth consecutive day on Thursday, July 29, proceedings in both houses of parliament were disrupted over the Pegasus snooping issue as the Union government showed no signs of acceding to the opposition’s demand for a discussion on the subject and to institute an independent judicial probe.

After multiple adjournments in both Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, both the houses were adjourned till 11 am on Friday, July 30.

In the Lok Sabha, as soon as the house assembled at 11 am on Thursday, opposition members began raising slogans against the Centre over the Pegasus issue. Led by the Congress’s floor leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, opposition members persisted with their demand for an independent probe into the Pegasus spyware issue.

In view of the protests, speaker Om Birla adjourned the house for half an hour. But the protests continued even after it re-assembled. Some members also displayed placards with slogans against the snooping issue.

However, this time, the house was not adjourned immediately. Amid the slogan-shouting, Anurag Thakur, minister of state for sports, and Hardeep Puri, urban affairs minister, answered some queries related to their ministries. But, as the opposition continued with its protests, at a little past noon, Lok Sabha was again adjourned till 12:30 pm.

As the loud protests continued as it reconvened, the House was again adjourned for the third time till 2 pm, when it re-assembled and functioned for nearly 17 minutes – during which civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia spoke about the Udaan air travel scheme. However, with the protests continuing, the House was finally adjourned till Friday.

Incidentally, on July 28, Congress leader and Lok Sabha MP Rahul Gandhi had clearly termed the alleged use of Pegasus spyware for snooping to be an “anti-national act and treason”. He had also stated that “a united opposition is not going anywhere” till the Centre agreed to discuss the issue threadbare in the parliament.

Earlier on Wednesday, July 28, leaders of 14 opposition parties had met at the office of Mallikarjun Kharge, Rajya Sabha’s leader of the opposition, to formulate a joint strategy for mounting pressure on the Narendra Modi government over the issue.

Also read: Parliament Sees Outrage Over Pegasus Revelations, Both Houses Briefly Adjourned

In light of this, parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi and BJP floor leader in Rajya Sabha Piyush Goyal on Thursday, July 29, also called on Kharge to discuss the issue of the ongoing impasse over the Pegasus spyware attacks in the parliament.

Apart from the Congress party, many other opposition parties are also of the view that the house proceedings cannot continue till the Pegasus issue is discussed. On Wednesday, July 28, Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra had also stated that there can be no way forward in the parliament till the issue is taken up.

Rajya Sabha too witnessed protests from opposition members over the issue the entire day on Thursday, July 29. Echoing the views expressed by Gandhi on Wednesday, the leader of Congress in Rajya Sabha Kharge had earlier in the day said that his party and the opposition “only want discussion on Pegasus issue”. He also insisted that for such a discussion, “Prime Minister Modi and home minister’s presence is necessary. This (snooping) is treason. If they let us discuss the issue, the house will function properly. We have also called an all-party meet today.”

Another Congress MP Ripun Bora said the party has been demanding a discussion in the parliament on the hike in prices of all essential commodities. “Being an MP, if we are not allowed a discussion in the parliament, then, where will we raise such issues,” he said.

As the protests in Rajya Sabha continued, the house was first adjourned till 12 noon. When it reassembled, the protests still continued and slogans of ‘khela hobe’, a call that became popular with Trinamool Congress leaders during the recent assembly elections in West Bengal, were also raised.

However, deputy speaker Harivansh Narayan Singh continued with the proceedings till 12:35 pm when the house was finally adjourned till 2 pm. On reconvening, it again transacted some business and passed a Bill amid slogan shouting and loud protests before adjourning for the day.