In a big development on Saturday, NCP chief Sharad Pawar publicly contradicted Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh on his wiretapping allegations. Acknowledging that phone tapping was a reality, he maintained that no one took it seriously. Moreover, he claimed that a minister in a state could not give orders in this regard. Thereafter, the NCP chief indirectly questioned how a minister in a state could possess information about phones being tapped.
NCP Chief Sharad Pawar on phone tapping: Everyone knows our phone is tapped, therefore we don’t think about it seriously. As far as I know, the orders for phone tapping cannot be given by a state minister, so I don’t know how much a state minister knows about this. #Maharashtra pic.twitter.com/WPw4iVZNbL— ANI (@ANI) January 25, 2020
Speaking to the media on Friday, Anil Deshmukh who is also a senior leader of NCP had alleged that officials of the previous government led by Devendra Fadnavis were sent to Israel on state expense to procure the Pegasus software. He contended that the same software was used to spy on the opposition leaders. This was a reference to WhatsApp’s revelation that Indians were among those whose phones were hacked using Pegasus. He announced that the Maha Vikas Aghadi government had initiated a probe into this matter.
Anil Deshmukh had remarked, "During the BJP government's regime when the Vidhan Sabha and Lok Sabha elections were held, the government had attempted to tap the phones of senior Congress and NCP leaders to know whom they were talking to and what they spoke. The allegations state that some state officials were sent to Israel on government funding to procure the software. The software was then used to spy on leaders by BJP government and we have initiated a probe into this.”
Maintaining that wiretapping was not the tradition of Maharashtra, Fadnavis denied the allegations by the Home Minister. At the same time, he stressed that he was ready for an inquiry. Responding to this controversy, Deepak Kesarkar who was MoS Home in the Fadnavis government stated that it would be improper for him to comment before the conclusion of the probe. However, he made a sensational claim that the phones of the Sena leaders were tapped even during the Congress-NCP regime.