What was snoopgate?
In November 2013 the so-called "snoopgate" scandal broke when two websites, Cobrapost.com and Gulail.com, obtained audio recordings of telephone conversations in which Modi's right-hand man Amit Shah directed the illegal surveillance of a young woman in late 2009, at Modi's request. The surveillance included tapping her phone, tailing her family, and even monitoring her movements outside the state boundaries. The BJP admitted that Modi had used the state government machinery to monitor the young woman, claiming the surveillance, although without her knowledge, was at the request of her father (which would still be illegal). A judicial panel was set up in December 2013 to probe the affair but eventually set aside by the Gujarat high court after Narendra Modi became prime minister in 2014.
Even before the snoopgate affair there was evidence of rampant state-sponsored phone tapping by the Narendra Modi government against political rivals, journalists and private citizens. This information and the details of the snoopgate affair reveal that the "Gujarat model of governance" often held up by Modi-supporters involves tight control over the state machinery by the head of state, and its use to crush those who displease him. This evaluation is backed up by the former US ambassador whose privately-held views on Modi were revealed by Wikileaks - according to him, Modi "rules with a small group of advisors... more by fear and intimidation than by inclusiveness and consensus" and "hoards power". These assessments of Modi's governance style are inconsistent with the claim that he had no control over the Gujarat pogroms of 2002.
Snoopgate in our news pages.