Cong-BJP locked in war of words over Indians killed Iraq, data leak issue

RSTV Bureau

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The BJP on Thursday accused Congress party and its chief Rahul Gandhi of indulging in politics over the killing of 39 Indians in Iraq. The government’s charge came hours after Rahul Gandhi accused the government of “inventing” issue of Congress’s links with Cambridge Ananlytica, the firm accused of data theft in US and other countries.

“All I will tell Rahul Gandhi he should not do politics on dead bodies of Indians who lost their lives in very unfortunate circumstances,” Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters.

Addressing a press conference, Prasad said it was the Congress which had disrupted proceedings in the Lok Sabha when External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had sought to make a statement on the deaths of these Indians.

His response came after Gandhi suggested that the government had “invented” a story about the Congress’ alleged links with a controversial data firm to divert the media attention from the deaths of 39 Indian hostages in Iraq, where the government was caught “lying”.

“Problem: 39 Indians dead; Govt on the mat, caught lying…Solution: Invent story on Congress & Data Theft… Result: Media networks bite bait; 39 Indians vanish from radar…Problem solved.” Rahul Gandhi had tweeted early this morning.

Prasad, however, rejected the Congress’ claim that it had never used the services of Cambridge Analytica, and insisted that the opposition party and Gandhi did do it.

He insisted that the Congress has used the services of Cambridge Analytica, which has been accused of harvesting people’s data from platforms like Facebook unlawfully to influence elections in different countries.

Several media reports about the opposition party using the services of the firm had appeared in October and November last year and it never denied those stories till the BJP raised the issue yesterday, he said.

The imprints of Cambridge Analytica were “visible” in the Congress’ campaign in Gujarat. It ran a “poisonous and divisive campaign” in the state, the union minister claimed.

On questions about reports that an Indian company, which was Cambridge Analytica’s partner, might have worked for the BJP and its allies as well, Prasad insisted that his party never had any ties with the foreign company.

There is no authentic confirmation of any Indian partner of the company working for the BJP or its allies, he said.

Prasad also sought to make a distinction between Cambridge Analytica and its partner, saying the former has been accused of using honey trap and data theft.

In a related development, the Congress has decided to move a privilege motion against External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in the Rajya Sabha on the issue of the death of 39 Indians in Iraq’s Mosul town.

The Congress party has alleged that the External Affairs Minister mislead and the House for four years along with the families of the deceased people. Ms Swaraj had confirmed the deaths of 39 Indians in Mosul in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.

(With inputs from PTI)