Investigations revealed by The Wire on Pegasus Spyware hack claim that leaders of Karnataka – Congress and Janata Dal-Secular were potential targets of the illicit surveillance. The report mentioned the phone number of former Karnataka deputy chief minister G Parameshwar. Alongside the deputy chief minister, the secretaries of former chief ministers of Karnataka, Siddaramaiah, and HD Kumaraswamy numbers listed as potential targets for the spyware attack.
These numbers listed for potential surveillance in 2019 occurred during the power struggle between the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) and Bharatiya Janata Party. The report stated that the record indicates phone numbers of a few critical politicians in Karnataka listed for a potential target of surveillance, and the numbers appeared in the list during the period of a power struggle of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Janata Dal-Secular JD (S), and Congress in 2019.
The report also states that it is not feasible to acertain if the devices were infected with the spyware due to the failure of the digital examination. However, the time surrounding the potential hack is crucial, said the report. H D Kumaraswamy stated that it is a possibility that his secretary’s phone was subject to surveillance. However, he said he is not bothered by it since important members of government agencies, and Income Tax department members were subject to such routine surveillance for about 10-15 years.
Commenting on the situation, Congress accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of using the Israeli software to topple the alliance of JD-(S) and Congress. Congress alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party had a role to play in the matter and demanded the resignation of the Union Home Minister Amit Shah. The alliance between Congress and Janata Dal-Secular fell in the year 2019. The coalition lost a confidence motion moved by the former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy by six votes. The motion had received the favour of 99 votes and 105 against. Kumaraswamy resigned from the post, and BS Yediyurappa took charge of the chief minister position. Seventeen MLAs of the coalition had submitted their resignation in early July 2019. The alliance alleged that the government indulged in horse-trading, and many disqualified MLAs joined the BJP and were re-elected.
After reports of Rahul Gandhi, Poll strategist Prashant Kishor and Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa’s numbers are listed as targets of potential surveillance. The Congress and opposition parties have demanded an investigation by a Joint Parliamentary Committee. Congress Leader Parameshwara stated that it was a surprise to him that the pegasus hack compromised his phone. He condemned the act of illicit surveillance and accused the government of misusing its power to topple a state government. In a tweet, he condemned the act. He called it a misuse of power, alleging that the BJP had used the same methods for gaining power in Pondicherry, Manipur, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, despite having less support among people.
Karnataka deputy chief minister Dr. CN Ashwath Narayan has denied the allegations of the spyware hack. He stated in the Parliament that the allegations aim to defame the Bharatiya Janata Party and the central government. Narayan accused the claims made by Congress as baseless and have no factuality. He stated that in 2013, the UPA government was under scrutiny for compromising around 3,000 phones and 500 mail addresses. He accused Amnesty International of defaming the central government.
The Congress leaders in Delhi staged a protest outside the BJP headquarters on July 20. Delhi Congress President, Anil Kumar, led the protest across the BJP office on DDU Marg. However, the police halted the demonstration. The Indian Youth Congress (IYC) also held a protest against the spyware hack on Tuesday. The national president of IYC Srinivas B.V. led the protest. The IYC has demanded an investigation by a parliamentary committee under the supervision of the Supreme Court.
The Congress party announced that it would be protesting outside the Raj Bhavan on July 22. The march aims to demand a Supreme Court judicial inquiry of the matter. Rameshwar Oraon, the finance minister of Congress in Jharkhand, stated that The Pegasus Project reveals that the central government is attempting to violate the constitutional rights of individuals of the country.