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Govt trying to turn country into surveillance state: Mamata Banerjee on Pegasus row

Banerjee urged Opposition parties to form a united front and plan to defeat the BJP in the upcoming 2024 Lok Sabha elections while pointing to the threat posed to democracy in the aftermath of the Pegasus scandal.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday accused the government of making attempts to turn the country into a surveillance state with the use of spyware Pegasus.

Addressing the people online on Martyr’s Day, Banerjee called for the Opposition parties to form a united front and plan to defeat the BJP in the upcoming 2024 Lok Sabha elections while pointing to the threat posed to democracy in the aftermath of the Pegasus scandal.  She said she would go to Delhi on July 27 or 28 and will be available for an opposition meeting if one is held.

Several Opposition leaders such as P Chidambaram, Digvijaya Singh, Sharad Pawar, Ram Gopal Yadav, Manoj Jha, Tiruchi Siva, Supriya Sule, Sanjay Singh, K Keshava Rao, Jaya Bachchan were among those who heard her address in Delhi where it was played live on giant television screens.

Banerjee, whose nephew and senior party leader Abhishek Banerjee listed on the leaked list,  said three things make democracy- media, judiciary, and the Election Commission, and Pegasus has captured all the three.  She said Israeli spyware is dangerous and they are harassing people. Phones of ministers, judges are being tapped and they have finished the democratic structure. Instead of a democratic state, they want to convert it into a surveillance state, she said.

Holding up her phone, she showed how her phone camera was covered with tape and she cannot talk to other opposition leaders fearing if her phone is also being tapped. She said the government should also be plastered over, otherwise this country will be destroyed. Taking names of Opposition leaders like P Chidambaram, Sharad Pawar, Arvind Kejriwal, and others, she said cannot talk to anyone. Instead of giving money to the poor, you are spending a lot of money on spygiri, said Banerjee while taking potshots at the ruling government.

Banerjee also appealed to the Supreme Court to take suo motu cognizance against the use of spyware Pegasus. She urged the apex court to set up a panel to probe, as only the judiciary can save the country, she said.

Recalling her Assembly election victory slogan Khela Hobe, Banerjee said one game has happened in Bengal and another game is afoot. She said she will declare August 16 as Khel Divas in Bengal.

She also took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, by asking him to not mind her saying that he and maybe the Home Minister, have been deploying law enforcement agencies against Opposition leaders. She added that the government had been spending tax money on spyware and not on the welfare of the people while pointing at the surging petrol prices.

Further, she said that the BJP has destroyed the Constitution, and their party members have become NHRC members. The Centre is interested in violence, divisive politics, clashes, mistrust among people, when people want freedom and progress, good healthcare, education and jobs, she said.

Read Also: Finally, Centre allows farmers to protest at Jantar Mantar, a short distance from Parliament

TAppluading her governance, Banerjee said, that her party is ready to give free ration to the nation. They distributed 10 lakh student credit cards besides laptops, hostel fees, tuition fees, etc. and also giving Rs 10,000 to farmers. She said Bengal is the real model, not Gujarat and urged the common people to protest against Pegasus snoop gate.

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