As the Pegasus snooping row kicked up a fresh political storm, the Centre on Monday said there was a 'consensus' at an all party meeting that the Lok Sabha not be stalled, and this sentiment was also reflected in the deliberations of party leaders in the Rajya Sabha.
While Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who is also the deputy Leader of the Lok Sabha, spoke about the consensus, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said there is no need for a separate discussion in Parliament on the Pegasus issue during the budget session as the matter is sub-judice.
After leader of the congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, two more opposition MPs in the Rajya Sabha -- Binoy Viswam (Communist Part of India) and V Sivadasan (Communist Party of India-Marxist) -- submitted a notice to move a privilege motion against IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw accusing him of providing 'misleading' information over the alleged use of Pegasus spyware of Israel's NSO group.
The move came after the New York Times claimed last week that India had brought the spyware technology from Israel in 2017 as part of a USD 2 billion defence deal.
The Pegasus row had led to a washout of the last Monsoon session when a united opposition did not allow both houses to function and sought a discussion on the matter.
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said all political parties have assured him of positive cooperation in the running of the House.
Speaking after listening to the points raised by the floor leaders of all the 25 parties in the Lok Sabha, Minister Singh expressed his gratitude for the healthy discussions.
"He stated that there was a consensus that the House not be stalled," Singh was quoted as saying in the statement issued by the Parliamentary Affairs ministry.
Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu also urged leaders of various political parties to allow smooth functioning of the House during the Budget session which commenced on Monday. The leaders assured the Chairman of their support, according to Rajya Sabha sources.
Addressing reporters after the all-party meeting held virtually, Minister Joshi said Singh sought cooperation from all the parties for the smooth functioning of the Lok Sabha.
As far as the Pegasus issue is concerned, he said there is no need for a separate discussion now, but opposition leaders are free to raise any matter while speaking on the Motion of Thanks on the President's address.
The budget session is scheduled to conclude on April 8 with a recess in-between from February 12 to March 13.
The Aam Aadmi Party raised the Pegasus spyware issue at the all-party meeting and demanded a discussion, according to Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh.
Chowdhury has already written to Speaker Birla for moving a privilege motion against the government accusing it of "misleading" the House since it had denied the charges of 'spying' in a statement in Parliament last year.
Viswam submitted the notice to move a privilege motion in the Rajya Sabha against Minister Vaishnaw for his statement in Parliament last year on the Pegasus spyware issue and accused the government of 'deliberately misleading' the two Houses.
Viswam said he submitted the notice in the light of the recent New York Times report.
Viswam said despite the government’s repeated attempts at hiding the truth, “numerous pieces of evidence have been made public that point towards the government’s purchase of Pegasus spyware”.
“The New York Times report is the latest on the list,” he added.
The matter concerns grave allegations of snooping that violate Constitutional rights and safeguards, but “the minister's deliberate attempt to mislead the members of Parliament constitutes a breach of privilege", the CPI MP said.
Trinamool Congress leader Derek O'Brien hoped that the government will be more responsible and ensure functioning of the Budget session as he accused it of willfully disrupting the last session of Parliament.
In the last session, 12 opposition MPs were suspended from the Rajya Sabha on the very first day of the session.
The TMC along with several other opposition parties were at the forefront in both houses protesting over the suspension of the MPs.