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Snooping: Cong seeks PM's reply 
Surveillance at Gadkari’s house haunts Modi
BJP dismisses reports, says no to probe
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 28
The controversy surrounding the alleged bugging of union minister Nitin Gadkari’s residence snowballed today with the Opposition Congress seeking an inquiry into the matter and asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi to explain the issue in Parliament.

Stopping short of accusing Modi of involvement in the current episode, Congress leaders today drew linkages between the current issue and the old allegations of snooping against Modi when he was Gujarat CM.

This even as Home Minister Rajnath Singh rejected any possibility of a probe and the BJP dismissed as “baseless” the apprehensions that high-powered listening devices were recovered from the Teen Murti lane residence of Gadkari, current Minister for Road Transport and Highways, considered close to the RSS.

Gadkari himself denied the occurrence of bugging though he had yesterday only termed the report as “highly speculative”.

The Congress was quick to spot the difference with party’s general secretary (communications) Ajay Makan saying: “Bugging either occurred or did not occur. The minister did not deny the reports yesterday. He only called them speculative. We want the question answered,” said Makan indicating that the matter would be raised in the Parliament where Congress allies the NCP, the RJD and the JDU are sure to lend support.

The Congress also recalled the old allegations of surveillance against Modi when he was Gujarat CM to stress its point and demand a probe.

Congress' senior Gujarat leader Shakti Sinh Gohil, in Delhi today, remembered how former IGP Gujarat Intelligence had admitted on record that the phone surveillance of slain BJP leader Harin Pandya had been done on the then CM Modi’s orders. Pandya was killed in 2003.

Another allegation that Modi snooped on a young woman architect in Gujarat continues to top Congress’ anti-Modi repertoire though the party itself failed to get a judge to probe the issue when in government.

Besides, the Congress mentioned today how in the three months beginning January 2013, various wings of Gujarat police had obtained call records of 90,000 people on the pretext of investigations.

Asked if he was accusing Modi of spying on Gadkari, Gohil said, “The PM must answer that. We want a probe. When we were in government, the BJP used to accuse former PM Manmohan Singh of being silent. What is Modi doing now?”

Even on the Gadkari’s snooping issue, the Congress is unsure of how far to go. Though the party leadership, including former PM Manmohan Singh, former foreign minister Salman Khurshid (he dismissed the possibility of US hand in Gadkari’s snooping as suggested by BJP’s Subramanian Swamy) and party general secretary Digvijay Singh, has demanded a probe into matter, the party is still firming up its response strategy and feels it has other issues it can raise in Parliament, including a possible breach of privilege notice against PM Modi for allegedly lying to the Parliament on June 11 about the power situation in Gujarat and the CAG’s latest report which picks holes in the Gujarat development model.

Congress insiders cited a letter which the union minister wrote to the RSS informing them of the bugging.

Charges baseless: BJP

* Home Minister Rajnath Singh rejected possibility of a probe

* The BJP dismissed as “baseless” the reports that listening devices were found at Gadkari's residence

* Gadkari, current Minister for Road Transport and Highways, is considered close to the RSS

* The minister has denied the occurrence of bugging

Congress mulls breach of privilege notice against Modi

* The Congress is mulling a breach of privilege notice against the PM, calling a claim he made regarding Gujarat’s power situation in a recent speech in Parliament as false. The party hinted that it would also bring up in Parliament the latest CAG report that picks holes in Gujarat development model
















Snooping issue likely to figure in India-US talks
John Kerry arrives tomorrow
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 28
Reports of listening devices being found at Union Minister Nitin Gadkari’s residence have added a new dimension to the upcoming India-US strategic dialogue here on July 31. Snooping by the US’ National Security Agency on the BJP is likely to figure during the talks to be co-chaired by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and US Secretary of State John Kerry. 

This will be the first high-level dialogue between the two countries after the NDA government came to power.

Earlier this month, the government had reacted strongly to reports of the BJP being spied upon by summoning a top US diplomat. Asked if India would raise the snooping issue during the talks, official sources said, “All issues of mutual concern will come up for discussion.”

One view in official circles is that Delhi has no intention to ratchet up tension with Washington over the snooping row at a time when both governments are trying to revive ties. Another view is that any tough stand by India on the issue could cast shadow on Modi’s visit to Washington in September. 



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