Indian political Twitter is a fun space. It is almost always outraged about something that the mass majority non Twitter public has no clue about. A section of Twitter thinks, rather fantasizes, that this will change the course of Indian politics.
The recent wet dream which is, as per a section of leftist media and self-proclaimed ‘intellectuals’ “India’s watergate moment”, is that the Indian government has snooped on the phones of certain journalists, politicians and others using an Israeli spyware called Pegasus.
I see articles, tweets, arguments and primetime debates on the how, when and who is outraged about this alleged snooping. What I don’t see is, did this even happen. For all the criticism we have for the left dominated media, one thing they are good at, is setting the agenda. They have come up with an allegation with no data, no proof, no documentation and no evidence trail whatsoever and conveniently set the debate on whether snooping is fair.
Do you see the moral trapping? “I was snooped. Do you think the government should snoop on its own citizen?” They have already put you on the back foot. Ideally, we should just laugh it off. But here I am writing an article on it.
Let’s profile some of the people and organisations, who claim that they were snooped and go on instant outrage mode. A journalist who featured in the infamous Nira Radia tapes. Another journalist, who “reproduced” an entire interview with former defence minister Shri George Fernandes out of her imgination and claimed Leonardo Dicaprio is attending an RSS event.
An NGO that closed its shop in India just because the government asked them to show their foreign funding source. A political party whose party symbol’s was found in Cambridge Analytica’s office, whose own previous governments have officially admitted to snooping, whose crown prince-turned-potential President is a habitual liar.
These are the people who are telling us that they were snooped. And we are busy telling them how Manmohanji supported tapping, Congress tapped 9000 phones and so on. Do you think these arguments are going to work? Or even a more fundamental question, do you think you should even indulge these people?
Not a shred of evidence, just empty outrage
India’s IT minister, on the floor of the house, has categorically denied all such charges. The allegations about Pegasus have been made multiple times before. There was no evidence, no credible factual basis earlier, and there is none now. The so-called ‘news-reports’ are just a collection of claims without a shred of actual data. The matter should have ended there. It’s beyond me, why we even entertain such claims.
There are reports that the Pegasus software works on a per license basis and it costs an exorbitant amount. As per a 2016 report, NSO charges a flat 500,000 USD (more than Rs 3.72 crores at current exchange rate) for installing Pegasus. For a government agency, the price was USD 650,000 (more than Rs 4.84 crores) for 10 iPhones. That is over Rs 48 lakhs for one phone. And these are 2016 prices.
Who, in their right mind, will believe that the government will spend 48 lakhs each on these discredited journalists to know what they are talking about. One of these journalists covers UP and she predicted an SP win on the face of the biggest landslide BJP win in the last UP assembly elections. The said journalist had got a defamation suit against her name because she could not distinguish between ‘revenue’ and ‘profit’. What value will the government get out of snooping these people?
Who would spend that kind of money on people whose stupidity is visible on social media every day
48 lakhs for Kabab recipes by her Mausi? You can get it for free on Youtube by celebrated chefs. Or is it to check the expensive wine photos which she would anyways put on social media. Or could it be to get a sense of the ongoing real estate price around NCR? Now that could be a good reason if Modiji is planning to buy a 2 BHK. But that’s unlikely, given PMs are entitled to govt accommodation even after retirement. And Modiji most probably is going to go back to Gujarat once he retires. Not sure if the said journalist keeps track of the Ahmedabad real estate market as well.
The other journalist who says she may have been snooped is so delusional that she may come up with a story tomorrow on how Asgardians are planning to invade 7 LKM and the Modiji we see on television is under mind control by Loki’s sceptre. You may laugh it off, but knowing her, it’s totally possible.
She “predicts” imaginary things attributing them to imaginary sources almost habitually. She puts her hallucinations on paper and sells them off as news articles. How else do you explain an interview with George Fernandes, which never happened? So what are you going to do? Discuss whether Asgardians will extend support to Rakesh Tikait and Mamata Banerjee or do you simply laugh it off?
The only good outcome of this ridiculous allegation is, a sitting CM plastering her smartphone camera with tape. She will possibly plaster her mic as well, maybe the entire phone. She got 6 pilots de-rostered because she thought they are going to kill her. All they did was, a simple go-around owing to traffic at Kolkata airport. It took extra 13 minutes before touchdown. The CM thought the plane was going to run out of fuel and this is being done under instruction from Modiji. I won’t be surprised if she makes all her MLAs and MPs do a mass phone Visarjan in Hubli river from the dimly lit Howrah bridge.
The only response these bizarre claims deserve is ridicule, not your critical analysis. The minister has denied it. Hence, it never happened. It never happened because there is no substance to the claim. No data to support the claims and nothing to go to court with. Ignore it like Modiji ignores Kejriwal. But then what’s Twitter without some banter. So go ahead, indulge. But when they say their phones were tapped, tell them “Ye acha tha, aur ek sunao”.