Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called for the opposition to unite against the BJP today, pointing to the “threat” posed to democracy by what she called a “surveillance state” in the aftermath of the Pegasus scandal.
The Chief Minister, who was addressing the people online on Martyr’s Day — a first since her landslide victory in the state elections — said she would go to Delhi on July 27 or 28 and will be available for an opposition meeting if one is held.
A number of opposition leaders heard her address in Delhi and other cities where it was played live on giant television screens.
“Three things make democracy — media, judiciary and the Election Commission — and Pegasus has captured all three,” said Ms Banerjee, whose nephew and senior party leader Abhishek Banerjee was also a potential target for surveillance, according to the group of 17 media organisations across the world that investigated the leaked surveillance lists.
Calling the Israeli military grade spyware “dangerous” and “ferocious”, Ms Banerjee said she cannot talk to other opposition leaders now as her phone is also tapped.
“I cannot talk to you people. To Sharad Pawar, Delhi Chief Minister, Goa Chief Minister… I have put leucoplast on my (phone) camera. This government should also be plastered over,” she said.
Appealing to the Supreme Court to come to the nation’s aid, she said, “Save the country, the democracy. Can’t you take suo motu cognisance as all phones are tapped? Set up a panel to probe… Only judiciary can save country”.
Then in a ferocious attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, she said, “Mr Modi, don’t mind. I am not attacking you personally. But you and may be the Home Minister — you are deploying agencies against opposition leaders. You are misusing the agencies.”
PM Modi’s government she said, was spending tax money on spyware instead of people’s welfare. “Look at the petrol prices. The Government of India collected ₹ 3.7 lakh crore from fuel tax alone. Where is the money going?” she said.
“No vaccines are available. You want to create a surveillance state. Ministers’ phones have been tapped. Judges’ phones have been tapped. Pegasus spyware intercepted the phones of judiciary, politicians, media persons,” she added
“Today, when people want freedoms and progress, good healthcare, education and jobs, all that the Central government is interested in is violence, divisive politics, clashes, mistrust among people… this is not what India needs,” she said.
The people of Bengal, she said, want “development, harmony, which was why the people in Bengal did not support you. All the country, the world, was watching the Bengal elections”. (NDTV)