Congress is milking the Pegasus spyware news to resuscitate its dead political ambition in the state of Karnataka. After propaganda portal ‘The Wire’ claimed in one of its reports that Israeli company NSO and its Pegasus software could have been used to snoop on leaders of Janata Dal Secular-Congress (JDS) government in Karnataka that eventually collapsed, Congress leaders have started using it as an opportunity to defame the central government and make up lost ground in the state.
Although several days after the news first broke out, no evidence has been put forth by any of the leftist publications to substantiate the claims of snooping but The Wire cleverly related the fall of Congress government in Karnataka to Pegasus.
The Wire says that the phone numbers of Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara and the personal secretaries of Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy and former chief minister Siddaramaiah were selected as potential targets.
Former Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara citing the report accused the government of misusing its powers. He said, “I was surprised to know that Pegasus has compromised my phone when I was Deputy Chief Minister and that of Siddaramaiah and Chief Minister’s secretary. Snooping activity by Pegasus is highly condemnable… Without the permission of the government of India, either the ministry of Home or the PM’s office, they cannot do it. I am sure the government is involved. I condemn this…They have misused their power to topple governments in this country,”
However, snooped or not, the truth cannot be far from it. Reported by TFI, it was the infighting amongst the party ranks that led to the Congress-JD(S) alliance losing trust vote in Karnataka Assembly in 2019 and eventually ceding power to BS Yediyurappa.
The trust deficit between the Congress camp has been so high that two heavyweight leaders in Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar have been fighting against each other to be projected as the CM face, two years before the assembly elections.
Both Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar are seen as the potential CM faces if Congress somehow manages to return to power in 2023. However, both factions and their supporters have been proclaiming their respective leaders as the CM face, leading to tussle and friction within the party.
Read More: With state elections two years away, Karnataka Congress splits into Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar factions
Zameer Ahmed, a Congress MLA and a staunch Siddaramaiah loyalist recently ignited the fire between two camps when he remarked that Siddaramaiah will be the future CM of the state — sidestepping current Karnataka Congress President DK Shivakumar.
“I don’t want to say Siddaramaiah as the past chief minister. I want to say my leader Siddaramaiah is the future chief minister. That’s what the feeling of the people is. It is the opinion of the people,” said Zameer Ahmed.
However, sensing the conversation was increasingly becoming one-sided in Siddaramaiah’s favour, Shivakumar immediately jumped in on the controversy and instructed Zameer to stay quiet.
Pegasus is a malware that infects iPhones and Android devices to enable operators of the tool to extract messages, photos and emails, record calls and secretly activate microphones. Left institutions have been insinuating that the Indian government used the tool to snoop on journalists, political opponents and activists across the country. However, nothing could have been further from the truth, and it is now being used by the congress to make a comeback in the state of Karnataka.