After reports that bugging devices were found at the residence of union minister Nitin Gadkari, sources have told NDTV that the houses of other BJP leaders may also have been bugged. Though the party has officially denied it, sources say External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Home Minister Rajnath Singh are believed to be among those at whose houses similar listening devices were found.
“I think this would best be confirmed or denied by the official spokesperson of the party. My view is that the senior leadership of the BJP was definitely targetted by the NSA, and NSA can also include temporarily people from the CIA and therefore we need to know the truth. I would like the Government of India to come out with a white paper on this,” BJP leader Subramanian Swamy told NDTV.
“The authorisation taken by the NSA from the US court was very wide. And the UPA government gave them access to our servers, to the towers. They allowed them to monitor phone calls,” Mr Swamy added.
A report in The Sunday Guardian – founded by senior journalist MJ Akbar who joined the BJP earlier this year – said “high power listening devices” were “accidentally” found in Mr Gadkari’s bedroom at his 13 Teen Murti Lane residence in Delhi recently.
The report said the bugs appeared to be of the kind used by US agencies, and referred to the recent row between India and the US after documents leaked by former security contractor Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA was authorised to spy on the BJP in 2010.
Mr Gadkari and the BJP repeatedly denied that bugging devices were found in the former BJP chief’s home. “As already stated, I reiterate that no devices were found at my residence anywhere,” Mr Gadkari said in a tweet today.
Citing his denial, Home Minister Rajnath Singh rejected any investigation, saying, “There is no contradiction. Mr Gadkari himself has denied it.”
But that did not stop Congress leader from Gujarat, Shaktisinh Gohil, from taking a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “Gadkari’s house has been snooped upon and the government must reply in Parliament. I come from Gujarat and it is commonplace to snoop there. It looks like the sutradhar (common link) has come to Delhi,” Mr Gohil said, referring to alleged snooping scandals in the state ruled by Mr Modi from 2001 to May this year.
Asked if the Congress was making a direct allegation against the PM, Mr Gohil said, “Let the Prime Minister explain this. Earlier when Manmohan Singh was PM, he would often question his silence. Why is he silent now? It is our turn to ask.” (NDTV)
The 58-year-old is a powerful minister in Mr Modi’s government – and has the backing of the BJP’s ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS – but the two had differences when Mr Gadkari was BJP president in 2009-2011.