Zee Media Bureau/Ritesh K Srivastava
New Delhi: The BJP government on Wednesday denied media reports about snooping on former BJP chief and Union Home Minister Nitin Gadkari and said no bugging devices were found from the latter`s residence as the Opposition pressed for a discussion on the issue.
Making a statement in the Rajya Sabha, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said, “Media reports about snooping on Nitin Gadkari`s residence are completely unfounded and untrue. Nitin Gadkari has himself denied the bugging claims, so there is no need for further discussion on the issue.”
However, the Congress-led Opposition was not satisfied with the Home Minister`s explanation and continued to press for the suspension of Question Hour.
With the din continuing, Chairman Hamid Ansari adjourned the Upper House for fifteen minutes first and then till noon.
Lok Sabha was also adjourned till noon after the Opposition MPs created a ruckus on the bugging issue and the UPSC row.
Talking to reporters, Gadkari today termed the media reports on snooping as baseless and unfounded.
“Its totally baseless and false, first they (media) said Mumbai home then Delhi home, I want to stress that these reports are totally false,” Nitin Gadkari said.
Congress had earlier submitted notice to Lok Sabha Speaker over the bugging controversy and sought the suspension of Question Hour.
The Janata Dal (United), backed by the Congress and Samajwadi Party, had also called for the suspension of the Question Hour on the issue.
JD-U leader KC Tyagi had moved a notice for the suspension of Question Hour under Rule 176 and pressed for a discussion on bugging issue.
BSP chief Mayawati also called it a serious issue and said that there should be a debate on the same and called for an investigation.
The Centre had on Monday rejected calls for a probe by Opposition parties including Congress and Nationalist Congress party into a media report that “listening devices” had been planted at the residence of Union Minister Nitin Gadkari.
“Gadkari has himself called it speculation. If so, how can we intervene?" Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State for Home told reporters.
The BJP and the Congress are currently locked into a political war over the issue.
A media report recently claimed that high-powered listening devices were found in the bedroom at Mr Gadkari’s 13 Teen Murti Lane residence. It said the discovery was “accidental” and a debugging exercise was immediately ordered.
Gadkari had also later tweeted, “Reports in a section of the media about listening devices having been found at my New Delhi residence are highly speculative.”
However, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy claimed that his “own investigations” and “sources” revealed that this (bugging) “may (have been planted) not later than October last year. At that time, when the UPA was in power, the (American) NSA had specifically targeted the BJP and Gadkari was a very important person. He had the confidence of the RSS.”
It could be recalled that earlier this month it was reported that as per a classified document, America’s NSA was authorised by a US court in 2010 to carry out surveillance on the BJP along with five other political parties in various countries. The document had allegedly been leaked by NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Using the opportunity to attack the BJP-led NDA, the Congress attacked the “recovery” of the devices and said it reflected the “lack of faith and mutual trust” among ministers of the NDA government.
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh too demanded an investigation into the report and asked government to explain the issue in Parliament.
"If ministers` houses are bugged, then it is not a good omen. It should be investigated. How can it happen? it should be explained by the government in the House," Singh told reporters at an Iftar function hosted by Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Sunday.