New Delhi: At a meeting of 13 Opposition parties Monday, which was convened to discuss the deteriorating condition of the economy, the issue that ended up dominating the conversation was the alleged use of Pegasus spyware on the WhatsApp numbers of journalists and politicians.
The meeting, held at New Delhi’s Constitution Club, was convened by the Congress party and chaired by the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad. The Congress has claimed that its general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was also a victim of the hack.
The parties discussed three possible ways to raise the issue of the WhatsApp hack — in the winter session of Parliament, by going to the President, and taking it to the “people’s court”.
“We have decided these three are the best courses of action, but we’ll go back and consult our parties about the same,” an opposition leader told ThePrint.
The meeting was attended by the Congress’ Azad, Ahmed Patel, Randeep Singh Surjewala and Rajeev Shukla, D. Kupendra Reddy of the Janata Dal (Secular), Sharad Yadav of the Loktantrik Janata Dal, T.R. Balu of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Manoj Jha of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Mohammad Nadimul Haque of the Trinamool Congress, Ajit Singh of the Rashtriya Lok Dal, T.K. Rangarajan of the CPI(M), D. Raja and Binoy Viswam of the CPI, Upendra Kushwaha of the Rashtriya Lok Samta Party, P.K. Kunhalikutti of the Indian Union Muslim League, Jose K. Mani of the Kerala Congress (Mani) and Shatrujeet Singh of the Revolutionary Socialist Party.
Noticeable absentees included the Congress’ Maharashtra ally Nationalist Congress Party — whose chief Sharad Pawar met Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi Monday — as well as the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party.
Economy in shambles
Highlighting the agrarian and economic crisis, Azad stressed on the fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government was doing little to ease the situation.
“NPAs (non-performing assets) are at Rs 8 lakh crore; there have been 25,000 bank frauds,” Azad said at a press briefing after the meeting. “Over and above that, India has dropped in its ranking by two points on the list of fastest growing economies. Never has the country had such an insensitive government.”
Sharad Yadav linked the slowdown to the recent election results in Haryana and Maharashtra, saying, “Haryana and Maharashtra have shown us that the people can see through the lies of the BJP. The situation has never been this bad before.”
Kerala Congress’ Mani added, “The central government is failing to control the situation. It is only a number of days before the economy collapses.”
RJD’s Manoj Jha also warned that when the economy bleeds, it doesn’t leave anything untouched.