Agencies / New Delhi

The latest revelation about Pegasus spyware issue is likely to create storm in the Budget Session of Parliament starting Monday with the opposition Congress drawing battle lines on session eve itself.

Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury today wrote to Speaker Om Birla seeking to move a privilege motion against IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw accusing him of “misleading the Parliament on the issue”.

The letter cites fresh claims by the New York Times about India purchasing Pegasus spyware from Israel as part of a defence deal earlier and says, “It appears that the government misled Parliament and the Supreme Court and lied to the people of India. I demand that a privilege motion may be initiated against the Minister of Information Technology for deliberately misleading the House on the Pegasus issue.”

On July 19, 2021, Vaishnaw had dismissed the allegations over Pegasus and said, “The timing is not a coincidence. When we look at this issue through the prism of logic, it clearly emerges that there is no substance behind this sensationalism.” The Monsoon session last year had been washed out over Pegasus.

Chowdhury also alleged today that the government lied to SC when asked if it had purchased or deployed Pegasus.

“In a sworn affidavit, the government denied any and all of the allegations on the Pegasus issue,” said the Congress leader with the opposition expected to raise privatization of public assets, LAC standoff, lack of jobs and farmer distress among other issues.

The Budget Session commences tomorrow with the address of President Ram Nath Kovind to both houses of Parliament followed by the tabling of the Economic Survey by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Lok Sabha.

The FM will present the union budget on February 1.

The session will end on April 8, and will have two parts. In all, there will be 29 sittings – 10 in the first part and 19 in the second.

The first segment of the Session will end on February 11 to allow recess from February 12 to March 13 when parliamentary committees will examine allocations to various ministries and give reports.

The first half of the Session will have two major items of business—discussion on the Motion of Thanks on President’s Address and general discussion on Budget.

The Government has fixed four days – February 2 to 7 — for discussion on the President’s address.

Importantly, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha will sit in shifts due to Covid restrictions and from Wednesday, Lok Sabha will sit from 4 pm to 9 pm and Rajya Sabha in the morning.

“Five hours have been scheduled per sitting during the first part of the Budget Session. MPs will be accommodated in Lok Sabha Chamber and its galleries during this time. During the first part of the Session after presentation of the Budget, 40 hours of normal time will be available for various businesses including Question Hour, Private Members’ Business, Discussion on Motion of Thanks and General Discussion on the Union Budget,” said