Indian Parliament adjourned till noon over bugging of senior minister Nitin Gadkari
Indian parliament was Wednesday adjourned till noon following an uproar by the opposition members who demanded an explanation from the government on the issue of bugging of union Minister Nitin Gadkari’s residence.
As soon as the Rajya Sabha met for the day, Chairman M. Hamid Ansari adjourned the house for 15 minutes in view of the ruckus, and then again till noon.
In the Lok Sabha, following an uproar by the members of the Congress and the Samajwadi Party, speaker Sumitra Mahajan adjourned the house till noon.
The Sunday Guardian newspaper earlier reported that high power listening devices were found in the bedroom of Mr Gadkari at his 13 Teen Murti Lane residence in New Delhi. The discovery was “accidental” and a debugging exercise was immediately ordered.
According to highly placed sources, more devices were consequently discovered at the residence of the senior BJP leader who is also the Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways. Gadkari has apparently informed Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat about the incident.
Initial investigations have revealed that the bugs were “planted in the house by a foreign agency since the sophisticated listening devices found are used only by western intelligence operatives, particularly the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA)”.
It may be recalled that Edward Snowden’s revelations carried by Washington Post on 30 June stated that top BJP leaders were under surveillance by a premier US spy agency. It could not be ascertained who besides Gadkari were the other BJP leaders who had been spied upon. Operations may now be going on to check whether, or not, other prominent BJP leaders too were under surveillance by this external agency. The BJP-led NDA government lodged a strong protest with the US State Department following the publication of the news in the Washington Post.
It may be mentioned that Gadkari has since 2011 been among the most important leaders of the BJP. His proximity to the RSS leadership is well known. After the Modi government was sworn in, he, Arun Jaitley and Rajnath Singh are amongst the principal advisers of the Prime Minister.
Highly placed sources said the listening devices were of exceptionally high quality, such as not generally used in India. The Indian agencies which debugged the house have indicated the role of a foreign hand.
The newspaper said this is not the first such case of surveillance of senior politicians in recent times. In June 2011, there were reports that offices of the Ministry of Finance were bugged. President Pranab Mukherjee was heading the ministry at that time. About a year later, there was a report that the then Defence Minister A.K. Antony’s office had been bugged. While the details were not made public, the incidents were seen as a part of internal Congress politics, unlike in the present case, where the role of a foreign agency is suspected.