Andhra Pradesh to constitute House committee to probe Pegasus

Amaravati: The Andhra Pradesh Assembly on Monday unanimously decided to constitute a House committee on Pegasus row in the wake of recent claim by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee that the previous TDP government had purchased Pegasus spyware.

Speaker Tammineni Seetharam made the announcement after the government agreed to the demand by the members of ruling YSR Congress Party (YSRCP).

He said the committee will be constituted on Tuesday or Wednesday.

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The decision came after short duration discussion on the issue in the absence of opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) members who were earlier suspended from the House for disrupting the proceedings to demand debate over deaths due to illicit liquor in Jangareddygudem town.

During the debate, YSRCP members demanded that the House Committee be set up for a thorough probe into the matter in the light of the statement by Mamata Banerjee. They felt there is a need to find as to how the TDP government led by Chandrababu Naidu used it against its political rivals.

Finance Minister Buggana Rajendranath termed the purchase of Pegasus software as a heinous crime committed by TDP. He said the action of Chandrababu Naidu violated human rights. He claimed that the Pegasus issue had come to light in 2016. He said spyware like software posed a grave danger to personal freedom.

The minister alleged that the TDP had kept a tab on voters with the Seva Mitra app and deleted pro-YSRCP voters from the electors’ list. He said voters’ Aadhaar data was collected and the then government tried to identify the voters who were going to vote against it.

YSRCP member Ambati Rambabu said there was a need to know full details of how Chandrababu Naidu used Pegasus software. He said Mamata Banerjee would not have made the statement without any truth. He said though TDP leaders had claimed that they had nothing to do with Pegasus issue, only a detailed probe will bring out the truth.

Rambabu alleged that TDP used Pegasus software against its political rivals. He said the phones of YSRCP leaders were tapped.

TDP general secretary Nara Lokesh had claimed on March 18 that the TDP government had rejected the offer of Pegasus to sell its spyware to the state.

Lokesh, who was minister for information technology in the TDP cabinet headed by his father N. Chandrababu Naidu, clarified that the TDP government did not purchase any spyware.

“Yes, Pegasus offered to sell its spyware to the Andhra Pradesh government as well but we rejected it,” he had told reporters.

He was reacting to Mamata Banerjee’s purported claim that the Chandrababu Naidu government purchased the Pegasus Spyware. “She was misinformed. If we had resorted to such things, Jagan Mohan Reddy would not have come to power in 2019,” he said.

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