Surveillance may have played role in toppling JD(S)-Congress govt in 2019

New Delhi, Jul 20 (IANS): In the run up to the toppling of the opposition-run state government in Karnataka in July 2019, the phone numbers of then Deputy Chief Minister G. Parameshwara and the personal secretaries of then Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah were selected as possible targets for surveillance, The Wire reported.

The Wire reviewed the records of the numbers that were of interest to an Indian client of Israel's NSO Group, the creator of the Pegasus spyware.

The numbers form part of a leaked database accessed by the French media non-profit Forbidden Stories and shared with an international media consortium as part of what is called the Pegasus Project.

NSO sells its Pegasus spyware -- whose use involves the crime of hacking into a smartphone under Indian law -- only to governments. Neither NSO, nor the Narendra Modi government has denied that India is a customer, The Wire reported.

The records indicate that the phone numbers of some of the key political players in Karnataka appear to have been selected around the time when an intense power struggle was taking place between the BJP and the Janata Dal (Secular)-Congress-led state government in 2019, after 17 ruling legislators belonging to the ruling alliance abruptly resigned to force a trust vote in the state Assembly.

This period also coincides with the selection of a new number that former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi began to use after discarding an earlier one he had been operating, and which had been on the list of potential spyware targets since 2018.

The Wire reported that in the absence of digital forensics, it is not possible to conclusively establish that these Karnataka politics-related phones were infected or subjected to an attempted hack.

However, the timing surrounding their selections as possible candidates for surveillance is crucial as during the political power game that played out in the southern state, the Congress and the JD(S) had alleged that the BJP, actively backed by the Union government, was attempting to topple their coalition government by poaching their party legislators.

In its review of the leaked data, The Wire found that two phone numbers belonging to Satish, the personal secretary of then Chief Minister Kumaraswamy, were selected for potential targeting in mid-2019, at a time when the Congress-JD(S) government was struggling to win back the rebels.

When The Wire reached out to him to inform about his presence on the leaked list, he refused to comment but confirmed that he was using the phone number in 2019.

The phone number of former Congress Chief Minister Siddaramaiah's personal secretary Venkatesh was also added in the same period.

Sources close to Siddaramaiah said that the former CM hasn't been using a personal phone for many years, and relies on his aides for phone conversations. Therefore, the selection of Venkatesh's phone number as a potential target for surveillance in this period assumes immense significance.

On similar lines, then sitting Congress Deputy CM Parameshwara was also selected as a potential candidate during the political controversy in Karnataka.








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Comment on this article

  • Clifford, Mangalore

    Wed, Jul 21 2021

    The corrupt ways of BJP are exposed to the whole world. At the moment the trust level with Indian Government has dropped to lowest of low and countries will stop trusting Indian businesses. In the present world order it will give a tremendous blow to Indian economy and prestige. PM has destroyed the country completely.

    DisAgree [4] Agree [7] Reply Report Abuse

  • Rishna, Udupi

    Wed, Jul 21 2021

    But how come our new astrologer not predicted this? Or he predicted downfall of CoJa govt. And kept silent?? Congress should sack siddarammayya as he can predict everything and still not informing high command... Also he predicted letter from G23 leaders to sonia but didnt informed

    DisAgree [3] Agree [6] Reply Report Abuse

  • SHAK, Mangalore

    Wed, Jul 21 2021

    Is This Pegasus software used for EVM hacking?

    DisAgree [2] Agree [6] Reply Report Abuse

  • sense_Shetty, Mical,Kudla,Odipu

    Tue, Jul 20 2021

    You mean to say you are not corrupt?

    DisAgree [13] Agree [6] Reply Report Abuse

  • Langoolacharya., Belman / Washington, DC.

    Wed, Jul 21 2021

    Shetty, Both ( Kummy and Yeddy) are corrupt to the core.... Can I tell you honestly and Sincerely something....perhaps you may not like what I say...and perhaps it may shock you....but I am telling you with all sincerity and honesty.... We need British Viceroy back.....and dismiss all politicians from Panchayath to parliament.... Never there were any accusations of Corruption against any British officials ....they may take 100 times salary than Kovind....but will work very hard....and will never steal public funds...this is my experience sir, not opinion... ...Tak...Takk...

    DisAgree [2] Agree [9] Reply Report Abuse

  • Sanjay, Hebri

    Tue, Jul 20 2021

    I thought few mlas waa responsible....,😀😀😀

    DisAgree [3] Agree [13] Reply Report Abuse

  • Veer, Nagpur

    Tue, Jul 20 2021

    Union IT and law minister are saying Twitter is not complying with Indian laws. But now it is clear it’s not Indian laws but BJP’s laws. FB has become BJP’s faithful biscuit eater. No wonder FB has so many privacy and content law suits worldwide. Brashta Jasoos Party.

    DisAgree [11] Agree [29] Reply Report Abuse

  • Charles D'Mello, Pangala

    Tue, Jul 20 2021

    "Surveillance may have played role in toppling JD(S)-Congress govt in 2019"....may be true...!!!!!!! But if they were not crooks. this would not have happened for sure.

    DisAgree [1] Agree [21] Reply Report Abuse

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