Pegasus affair: Maha Congress protests outside Raj Bhavan

Leaders of the Maharashtra Congress along with ministers, legislators, journalists, lawyers, social activists and others held a full-throated protest outside the Raj Bhavan demanding a probe into the Pegasus snooping revelations, here on Thursday.

The protesters, led by state Congress chief Nana Patole, raised slogans slamming the Bharatiya Janata Party government at the Centre for “murdering democracy” by hacking phones and listening to private conversations.

“Using this phone-hacking tactics, the BJP government overthrew our Congress-JD(S) government in Karnataka, besides toppling the Congress regime in Madhya Pradesh. During the reign of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, the phones of several persons, including mine, were tapped in 2016-2017, and the issue had figured in the legislature,” Patole said.

Congress Legislative Party leader and Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat said the Pegasus spyware has been used to monitor opposition party leaders, mediapersons and others, and the latest IT raids on Dainik Bhaskar and Bharat Samachar groups are “an attempt to silence independent journalism”.

PWD Minister Ashok Chavan termed the situation in the country as “very alarming” with the judiciary, opposition leaders, political parties, journalists and others being spied upon by the BJP government.

Working President of the state Congress, Naseem Khan, said the Narendra Modi government is attempting to impose dictatorship in the country by misusing the official machinery, and reiterated the Congress’ demand for a Supreme Court-monitored judicial probe into the matter.

Later, a delegation called on Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and submitted a memorandum of demands on the issue.

The delegation comprised state ministers Nitin Raut, Aslam Sheikh, Sunil Kedar, senior party leaders Chandrakant Handore, Hussain Dalwai, Mumbai Congress chief Bhai Jagtap, legislators and other top office-bearers at the state and city levels.

Maha Vikas Aghadi allies Shiv Sena and Nationalist Congress Party have also strongly criticised the BJP over the Pegasus snoopgate, with Sena MP Sanjay Raut terming it as even worse than the Emergency.

However, BJP’s Leader of Opposition, Devendra Fadnavis, has outrightly rejected the charges levelled by the MVA.