Nitin Gadkari’s Bedroom Was Bugged? Nothing New

While Congress is trying to transform a rumour into a trust-deficit issue in the government, BJP must do its best to put a full stop on it before it does actual damage.

There are unconfirmed media reports doing rounds that former Bhartiya Janata Party president and surface transport, shipping and rural development minister Nitin Gadkari’s house has been bugged.

A listening device was purportedly found at his official residence 13 Teen Murti lane.

The report was first carried by The Sunday Guardian, whose founder is none other than BJP spokesperson and journalist MJ Akbar. It was later aired by its sister channel News X.

Reportedly, the accidental founding of the listening device in Gadkari’s bedroom prompted a full sweep of the house. If the reports are indeed true, it must concern the BJP and others. But the BJP has not shown any serious concern till now.

Gadkari himself called such news “highly speculative”:


Of course, all the news has a supporter in Subramanian Swamy who has fueled more speculation by saying: “My own investigations and my sources reveal that this may happen not later than October last year. The planting of the device and that means at that time, when the UPA was in power, the NSA has specifically targeted the BJP and Gadkari was a very important person. He had the confidence of the RSS.”

However, the security and intelligence agencies are clueless about any such news or exercise.

They were shocked after the story flashed on TV channels.

A report in The Times of India quoted one official as saying: “No Delhi Police or IB personnel were called in for a debugging exercise after the alleged listening device was discovered… in the normal course, this would have been the standard procedure.”

In fact, the report claimed that no ‘discovered’ device has been sent for analysis to a forensic laboratory, which should be the normal course.

A Hindustan Times report quoted an IB official as saying ministers’ offices are regularly swept by the bureau, especially in the case of ministries that handle sensitive issues, but nobody had heard of a residence being swept. Snoop-sanitising is common in government offices.

It should be noted that sometime back there were reports in The Washington Post alleging that the US allowed the National Security Agency (NSA) to spy on six non-US political parties, including the BJP. The reports were backed by the claims of former NSA contractor and WikiLeaks founder Edward Snowden in leaked top-secret documents.

In September 2012, BJP leader Yashwant Sinha had alleged that P Chidambaram had ordered to tap his phone. Singh had accused Chidambaram of being involved in the Aircel- Maxis scam and had claimed that the latter snooped on him for the same.

In February 2012, an officer of the military intelligence had found a monitoring device in the office of then-Defence Minister AK Antony. A high level probe was initiated to look into the matter. It was the time when tension between government and army was at its peak in the last decade, Questions were raised when IB was asked to probe the matter.  

However, it cannot be denied that storms in teacups have also been created apart from real bugging stories.

An example would be bugging of UPA finance minister Pranab Mukherjee’s office.

In June 2011, there were reports that then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s office was bugged. No less than 16 adhesive-type gum sticks were found in different rooms of the Finance Ministry including three under Mukherjee’s own table. Reportedly Pranab Mukherjee wrote a letter to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressing his concern about “trust deficit” in the matter. However Mukherjee rejected all such rumours in public.

BJP branded it as India’s Watergate and demanded a probe into the matter. Rumour mills were abuzz about possible involvement of then Home Minister P Chidambaram in the matter. However with Pranab Mukherjee preferring to be mum on this issue, the controversy fizzled out soon.

In the end it was found that the gums were actually chewing gums.

Interestingly, Congress is savouring this moment and much quiet Manmohan Singh is also commenting on the issue. Speaking to reporters at the Iftar hosted by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Singh said if the report was true, it was a serious issue. “If ministers’ houses are bugged, then it is not a good omen. It should be investigated. How can it happen? It should be explained by the government in the House,” he said.

While Congress is trying to transform a rumour into a trust-deficit issue in the government, BJP must do its best to put a full stop on it before it does actual damage.

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