Pegasus major issue of national security, Centre curtailing people's freedom in democratic set-up: Kharge

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Senior Congress leader and Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Malikarjun Kharge speaking to ANI at Parliamement in Delhi on Friday. [Photo/ANI]
Senior Congress leader and Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Malikarjun Kharge speaking to ANI at Parliamement in Delhi on Friday. [Photo/ANI]

New Delhi [India], July 30 (ANI): Terming the Pegasus row a "major issue of national security", senior Congress leader and Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Malikarjun Kharge on Friday accused the Centre of not allowing a debate and discussion on multiple issues ranging from farmers, inflation, Mizoram-Assam border dispute, and Chinese aggression.

He also said that the Pegasus issue is a matter of people's freedom and accused the Central government of curtailing it in a democratic set-up.

Speaking to ANI, Kharge said, "The Opposition wants a debate on the Pegasus issue. There are other issues as well which include farmers, inflation, Mizoram-Assam border dispute, Chinese aggression. These are among many those issues which the government does not want to discuss and is not allowing a debate upon them. Pegasus is a big issue raising concerns over national security. It is also a matter of people's freedom which is being curtailed in a democratic set-up."

The opposition has alleged that names of several Indian politicians, journalists, lawyers and activists have appeared on the leaked list of a potential target for surveillance by the unidentified agency using Pegasus software. This comes following reports published by The Wire.

Responding to a question on the Assam government's recent advisory, Kharge said "This proves that the Home Minister has failed in fulfilling his responsibility. They should seek intelligence input and use it to save the people, but they are unable to do so which is the failure of the Home Ministry.

The Assam government on Thursday issued a travel advisory for state residents asking them to avoid travelling to Mizoram amid a border dispute between the neighbouring states.

"Given the critical prevailing situation, the people of Assam are advised not to travel to Mizoram as any threat to the personal safety of people of Assam cannot be accepted," said the advisory issued by MS Manivannan, Commissioner and secretary, Home and political department.

Further answering a query on the Centre's recent decision of providing reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) in the All India Quota (AIQ) scheme in medical education, the senior Congress leader said, "There was already reservation for backward classes. This is just an extension of that provision. It is not a very big thing."

Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government took a decision for providing 27 per cent reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and 10 per cent reservation for the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) in the All India Quota (AIQ) scheme in medical education.

According to an official statement issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Thursday, Prime Minister in a meeting held on Monday had directed the Union Ministries concerned to facilitate an effective solution to this long pending issue.

Kharge further termed the recent Cabinet reshuffle as a "publicity stunt" ahead of elections.

"All this induction of MPs from backwards classes as ministers into the cabinet could also be done through issuing a government order. Doing it in such a big ceremony so that it is carried in news channels and papers, is only being done for publicity from the point of view of polls," he added.

On July 7, as many as 43 leaders took oath in the first Union Cabinet reshuffle and expansion after Prime Minister Modi returned to power for a second term in May 2019.

Some of the key figures inducted into the Union cabinet include Jyotiraditya Scindia, Bhupender Yadav, Sarbananda Sonowal and Pashupati Kumar Paras.

Seven women MPs took oath as union ministers in the expanded council of ministers. They include Anupriya Patel, Shobha Karandlaje, Darshana Vikram Jardosh, Meenakshi Lekhi, Annapurna Devi, Pratima Bhoumik and Bharati Pravin Pawar.

Seven MoS have been promoted as Union Cabinet Ministers. (ANI)

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