The reported bugging at union minister Nitin Gadkari’s residence rocked Parliament on Wednesday morning with Congress demanding suspension of question hour to raise the issue, notwithstanding government denying the report.
"I want to clarify that there is no truth in the media reports," home minister Rajnath Singh said in a statement in both houses. He also said the minister, who has denied the reports, has not made any complaint in this regard.
However, Singh’s statement failed to pacify the Opposition which was up on its feet insisting on a debate and response from government. While Rajya Sabha was adjourned four times before lunch on the issue, in Lok Sabha, the Shiv Sena's uproar over the alleged police action against action against Marathi-speaking people in Karnataka’s Belgaum district overpowered the Congress's furore over bugging.
Congress leader Anand Sharma demanded an inquiry into the reported episode, as his party colleagues raised slogans - "Modi model nahin chalega" and "we want JPC".
“Government is allowing tapping of telephones on a large scale. It is a question of privacy. This is a serious matter... Here we are talking of bugging. Who has allowed it? Our demand is a thorough probe to unearth the truth. It has to be discussed in the house," Sharma said.
Another Congress leader Satyavrat Chaturvedi accused government of "running away from a debate".
Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu refuted the allegation saying "the minister concerned has denied the report.”
In the Lower House, leader of the Congress in the house Mallikarjun Kharge demanded a statement either by Prime Minister Narendra Modi or the home minister on the issue. Stating that bugging had taken place in Gujarat, he asked the government to tell how many bugging devices had been placed in the houses of ministers.
BSP supremo Mayawati also favoured a debate on the bugging issue. "The issue deserves to be discussed before probing. Bugging should be banned as anyone can be put under surveillance," she said.
The BJP has been dubbing it as a non-issue. Outside Parliament, speaking to reporters Gadkari said the report was baseless. “I have clearly told you that whatever you are writing and showing is totally false and baseless, and there is no truth in it. First, it was said that it was my Mumbai residence and now it is the Delhi residence (which is bugged) and there is no truth in it," he said.