BJP’s Ally Nitish Kumar Demands Probe Into Pegasus Row

BJP’s Ally Nitish Kumar Demands Probe Into Pegasus Row

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday favoured a thorough inquiry into allegations of phone tapping with the help of Pegasus spyware which has led to a logjam in Parliament.

Kumar, whose JD(U) is an ally of the BJP at the Centre as well as in the state, however, qualified his statement with the remark "I know of this controversy only from whatever I have read about it in the newspapers".

"It is a known fact that modern technology can be put to sinister uses. If there have been any attempts to intercept people's telephonic conversations, it would be better to get the matter probed for suitable action", he told reporters here on the sidelines of his weekly public interaction programme.

Asked about the opposition's demand that the matter be probed by a Joint Parliamentary Committee, Kumar, who has been a former Union minister himself, said "I cannot comment on what is taking place on the floor of the Parliament".

"But those who have any concrete information with regard to such alleged snooping, must share the same with the government. I am sure the issue will be squarely addressed", he added.

Opposition parties have been aggressively protesting over Pegasus snooping case in Lok Sabha as well as in Rajya Sabha, crippling functioning of both houses of Parliament.

Responding bashfully to his party colleague Upendra Kushwaha's statement that the Bihar Chief Minister was a "Prime Minister material", Kumar who was at one point seen as a "secular alternative" to the Narendra Modi juggernaut said "I have no such aspirations. I wish to serve Bihar for as long as I can".

Kumar expressed surprise when his attention was drawn towards a remark by his cabinet colleague and BJP leader Samrat Chaudhary who had complained about "compulsions of coalition politics" and "our voice is not being heard".

"He never expressed such sentiments at meetings or even during the recent assembly session. In any case, our coalition has been running smoothly for decades. He may enquire from his seniors in his own party", said the JD(U) leader, who has been a BJP ally since the mid 1990s except for a 2013-17 hiatus.

He also rejected the possibility of his recent meeting, at New Delhi, with former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala leading to apprehensions in the BJP camp.

"We share a very old relationship which goes beyond the political. We were in the same party at one point of time", Kumar said referring to Chautala's Indian National Lok Dal having been a splinter group of the erstwhile Janata Dal.

A splinter group of the INLD headed by Chautala's estranged grandson Dushyant Chautala is currently sharing power with the BJP in Haryana. PTI

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