Leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha and senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj has called the ‘bubble gum’ episode “India’s Watergate” and called for a thorough investigation into the matter.
“Is it that the Government was spying on its own Finance Minister? Or is it a Corporate House,” she asked in a tweet, echoing the sentiments of many who have been shocked at the news that the finance minister’s office seemed to have been bugged thoroughly by unknown persons.
The Indian Express newspaper had exposed a letter by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, the second most senior leader in the Government, informing the Prime Minister about finding adhesives at strategic places across his office. Due to the strategic nature of the location of the adhesives (such as the conference room,) Mukherjee had raised concerns that they were the remains of a bugging operation.
However, the Intelligence Bureau of the central government conducted an investigation and claimed that it was ‘bubble gum,’ — a statement that Mukherjee had to stoically repeat today to the media to avoid any damage to the already beleaguered government.
However, like most experts, Swaraj voiced her doubts over the sincerity of Mukherjee’s statement today. Mukherjee had quickly mumbled the prepared statement in front of the TV microphones and simply walked away, without waiting to clear any more doubts or looking the cameras ‘eye to eye,’ giving rise to speculation.
“The Finance Minister may have his own compulsions in playing it down. The ‘chewing gum’ theory is hard to digest,” Swaraj punned.
BJP, which sees the episode as a reflection of the factional tensions within the Congress party and possible an attempt by powerful people to keep a tab on the senior leader, is understandably reluctant to let go of the issue.
Pranab Mukherjee is often called the ‘best PM India never had’ because of his long service to the party, diplomatic skills and stature.
Mukherjee, a former school-teacher from Bengal who is yet to wear off his thick Bengali accent, had been expelled by Rajiv Gandhi in 1986, reportedly for showing too much ambition, according to a recent US diplomatic cable. SEE: Pranab Mukherjee — according to the Americans (Wikileaks)