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Parliament Parleys: Pegasus Tie-Breaker, Kissa Kursi ka and Sonia Gandhi’s SPG Tangle

File photo of Congress leader Shashi Tharoor.

File photo of Congress leader Shashi Tharoor.

Your dose of gossip from the Parliament.

Pegasus and Privacy: A meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology began on a very heated note as the BJP members on the panel refused that there should be any discussion on the issue of data privacy.

The meeting of the Shashi Tharoor-led panel was called to seek answers from the government on the WhatsApp snooping row, after the messaging platform revealed last month that more than 120 journalists and activists in India have been the target of surveillance by operators using the Israeli spyware Pegasus.

But members of the ruling BJP argued there was no need for a discussion and the debate carried on for two hours, after which the matter was finally put to a vote.

And as luck would have it, the vote ended in a tie. Chairman Tharoor then used his vote, which was in favour of a discussion, which finally took place. The discussions on data privacy lasted for three hours.

Sena's Seating: A written complaint by Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut has forced the Rajya Sabha secretariat to take up the issue of the change of seats allotted to the Sena MPs in the House. According to sources, the decision to change the seats was taken by the secretariat based on a recommendation of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs.

Raut had written to Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu that Sena had not formally exit the NDA yet and his seating in the Rajya Sabha has been changed to "humiliate" him and "deliberately hurt sentiment and suppress our voice".

On Sunday, a day before the start of the winter session of parliament, the Sena learnt that its seats had been reassigned. The Shiv Sena has 18 MPs in the Lok Sabha and three members in the Rajya Sabha.

Pollution Rap: Wary of repeating the misstep of last week, where they skipped an important meeting on the issue of Delhi’s air quality, members of the parliamentary panel on air pollution were on high alert on Wednesday after a rap from Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla.

While last week, 25 of the 29 members of the panel had given the meeting a miss, on Wednesday, all members were seated in their places 15 minutes before the discussion was to start.

Sonia’s Security Affair: The issue of the withdrawal of SPG security cover to guard the Gandhi family once again resonated in Parliament as Congress MPs raised the issue in both Houses as well as on the streets outside, unmindful of the criticism that the protest is receiving. Many have pointed out that instead of raising issues like the economic slowdown, the lockdown in Kashmir or the JNU fee hike, the party making this its priority is not good optics.

Sonia Gandhi herself has refused to engage on the issue or make any comments. Sources said she even told party leaders to not make this an issue, but they insist that they must protest against this political witch-hunt.