In a development that could strengthen the impression of a “trust deficit” between key ministries in the Manmohan Singh government , Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh has sought a fresh probe into Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s complaint about eavesdropping on him.
“I am surprised that Mukherjee’s office was being bugged. This is something unheard of and I think this should be enquired into,” Singh said. The statement is significant as it comes a day after Mukherjee, who wrote to the prime minister about adhesive-like substance recovered from his office that might have been used to implant electronic listening devices, underplayed it and advised the media not to focus on the issue. Singh’s demand for a probe, however, will ensure that the issue stays alive and provide opportunity to assert that even the finance minister, the No. 2 in the government, is not protected from spying.
It will not be easy to dismiss the Opposition’s claim of a “trust deficit” in the government as Mukherjee had sought the help of agencies under his charge and not the home ministry to conduct the initial investigations. In his letter to the prime minister, Mukherjee had said that an electronic sweep conducted by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) found that adhesives were planted in his office, those of his advisor Omita Paul and his private secretary Manoj Pant , as well as the two conference halls of the finance ministry.
It be recalled that the Prime Minister’s Office , too, had tasked the Intelligence Bureau (IB) to look into Mukherjee’s complaint bypassing the home ministry. Even though IB gave a clean chit in the case, the finance ministry has been calling in CBDT staff to sweep its premises over and above the routine checks carried out by the agencies under the home ministry’s control.
The Opposition, meanwhile, has intensified the attack on the government over the issue and said that it demonstrated the intrigues in the government. “There is something very suspicious going on in the government. There is an attempt to suppress this very serious matter. The prime minister must break his silence and tell the nation what exactly happened and who was responsible,” BJP leader LK Advani said while addressing a rally in the Capital. Economic Times