Protests over Pegasus’ snooping row dominated Lok Sabha proceedings on the second day of Parliament’s monsoon session, leading to continued disruptions and repeated adjournments from the House on Tuesday.
As soon as the House met at 11 a.m., opposition members, including Congress and the TMC, raised slogans and displayed placards attacking the government on the snooping problem. The proceedings lasted barely five minutes when the House was suspended.
One of the signs, written in Hindi, reads that while people are unemployed, the government is engaged in “jasoosi(espionage). The same scene was seen when the House met again at 2 p.m. and was later adjourned until 11 a.m. on July 22.
Speaker Om Birla said it was not right to disrupt the House and the government is ready to provide answers on any matter. “Please go back to your seats. I will facilitate a debate on any topic. (But) slogans are not correct. The government is ready to debate any topics you wish to debate,” Birla told PTI news agency.
Leaders of various political parties also met in both chambers of Parliament before the proceedings began to determine their strategy on the issue. Several MPs from the Trinamool Congress also held a protest about the issue in front of the parliament building. Many of them, along with members of Congress, had deferred payments in both houses and demanded a discussion of the matter.
Congress spokesman Shaktisinh Gohil said the government should clearly state whether it bought the Pegasus spyware or not, and conduct a joint parliamentary inquiry. “We had deferred both in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha to hold a discussion about the violation of national security and fundamental rights under the constitution through the issue of phone tapping,” Gohil told reporters.
On Monday, Narendra Modi-led allegations of snooping at politicians, journalists and others using Pegasus software categorically dismissed the Lok Sabha allegations, claiming illegal surveillance was not possible with checks and balances in the country’s laws, claiming that attempts were made to defame Indian democracy.
Normality returns to RS after Naidu meets leaders
Like the Lok Sabha, the Rajya Sabha witnessed similar scenes after opposition parties obstructed mainstream business on various issues, including the Pegasus snooping controversy.
Members of opposition parties, who had made as many as 15 notices under Rule 267 that they had to stop their day-to-day business to take up the issue they wanted to raise, launched slogans and stormed into the well of the house, prompting Chairman M. Venkaiah urged Naidu to adjourn the proceedings until 12 noon.
According to PTI, normality returned to the Senate only after President M. Venkaiah Naidu met floor leaders from various parties. Citing sources, the news agency said Naidu called House leader Piyush Goyal, opposition leaders Anand Sharma, Jairam Ramesh, Derek O’Brien, Tiruchi Siva and a few others, expressing concern about the repeated disturbances in the House.
Later, the House resumed and a short discussion about the Covid-19 crisis took place.
Government has never asked a state to register fewer deaths: Health Minister
On the charge of suppressing Covid deaths, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Tuesday that the Center has never asked a state to record fewer deaths or cases.
“Centre collects and publishes the data submitted by state governments. Our job is to publish that data and nothing else. We have not told anyone to show fewer numbers (deaths) or less positive cases. There is no reason for that,” Mandaviya said during a discussion in Rajya Sabha.
He also said that people’s determination along with Prime Minister Modi’s guidance can save us from a third wave. The health minister also briefed the House on the country’s vaccine production, saying several Indian companies are increasing their vaccine production and the country may become the first in the world to develop a DNA-based vaccine.
“Cadila has completed the third phase of its DNA vaccine trial and has applied for emergency use authorization to DCGI (Drugs Controller General of India). Our expert team will investigate. When this comes to market, India will be the only country where scientists have developed a DNA vaccine,” Mandaviya told Rajya Sabha.
The minister said Biological E is in the third phase of testing its vaccine and is expected to hit the market in September-October with doses of 7.5 crore. “Zydus Cadila and Bharat Biotech have started trials on children. I expect their trials to be successful. We must trust our scientists. I trust my scientists and indigenous companies,” Mandaviya said.
Mandaviya also said the country has started getting 11-12 crore doses of Serum Institute’s Covishield vaccine per month and that Bharat Biotech will provide 3.5 crore doses of its Covid vaccine by August.
PM asks BJP MPs to effectively fight Oppn’s allegations
Making a strong exception to the opposition’s attack in parliament over the government’s response to Covid-19, Prime Minister Narendra Modi learned on Tuesday that he had asked his party colleagues to counter their accusations citing the availability of the vaccine.
The prime minister said there has been a deliberate attempt to mislead people that there is a shortage of Covid-19 vaccines in the country. He said Congress is in a “coma” and has not been able to cope with the BjP coming to power, sources said.
Addressing BJP MPs at his parliamentary party meeting, the prime minister reportedly said party leaders must be prepared to face the expected third wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
A party leader said the prime minister has asked MPs to ensure that the vaccination campaign in their respective constituencies is carried out without any problems.
No oxygen starvation deaths reported during second Covid wave: Govt
No deaths from oxygen deprivation were specifically reported by states and UTs during the second wave of Covid-19, the government told Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.
According to PTI, while responding to a question about whether a large number of Covid-19 patients died on roads and hospitals as a result of acute second wave oxygen deprivation, Health Minister Bharati Praveen Pawar noted that health is a state subject and states and UTs regularly report the number of cases and deaths to the Center.
“Detailed guidelines for reporting deaths have been issued by the Union Department of Health to all states and UTs.”
“Accordingly, all states and UTs regularly report cases and deaths to the Department of Health. However, no deaths from oxygen deprivation have been specifically reported by states and UTs,” Pawar said in a written response.