As the Pegasus scandal rocks Parliament, a phone-tapping controversy has erupted in Bengal.
Police filed a case today against BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari over claims he has information of phone calls to police officers from the office of Abhishek Banerjee, Trinamool MP and nephew of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
“I have phone numbers and records of all calls you (the police) get from the nephew’s office,” he declared at a rally in East Medinipur, warning Mr Banerjee “no one will be able to save you”.
At his meeting Mr Adhikari declared that the role of police officials in responding to these cases may soon be probed by the CBI. He signed off on that comment with an ominous warning: “If you have the state government in your hands, we have the central government in our hands.”
“The CBI may soon investigate the role of the IOs, ICs and OCs. Then you will understand what is what… no aunt will be able to save you (a reference to Mr Banerjee),” he said.
Mr Banerjee is among some opposition leaders, including Congress MP Rahul Gandhi and poll strategist Prashant Kishor, and journalists critical of the government whose phone numbers are on a list of allegedly targeted for surveillance using spyware Pegasus.
“It is clear from his comments that phones are being tapped in Bengal by the centre,” Trinamool spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said, as he demanded Mr Adhikari’s arrest.
Charges have been filed against Mr Adhikari under the Official Secrets Act and the National Disaster Management Act.
The OSA was applied for “wrongful possession of secret official code, passwords, documents, etc.” and the NDMA for holding a political meeting in violation of a ban on such gatherings (due to the pandemic) and obstructing police officers in the discharge of their duties.
Suvendu Adhikari, meanwhile, has dismissed the case.
To charges under the NDMA, he only pointed to the ruling party, saying: “I can show you dozens of photos of Trinamool supporters protesting in large numbers against fuel price (hike)”.