The Lok Sabha Ethics Committee, examining the “cash-for-query” allegations against Trinamool MP Mahua Moitra, has recommended her expulsion from Parliament in a 500-page report accessed by Newsbust India. She has been asked to appear before the panel tomorrow.
A look back at the case so far:
BJP’s Nishikant Dubey demanded Mahua Moitra’s immediate suspension from Parliament last month, accusing her of taking bribes from businessman Darshan Hiranandani to ask questions in the House to target Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Adani group. He wrote to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla highlighting Ms Moitra’s alleged breach of parliamentary privilege, contempt of House, and criminal conspiracy.
Between 2019 and 2023, 50 of the 61 questions asked by Ms Moitra were at the behest of Darshan Hiranandani, Mr Dubey alleged, adding that the MP gave Mr Hiranandani access to her Lok Sabha account for him to directly post the questions. Mr Dubey cited “painstaking research” by advocate Jai Anand Dehadrai, who approached the CBI with some of his allegations.
Mahua Moitra rubbished all allegations against her, labelling Mr Dehadrai as a “jilted ex”. Mr Dehadrai, in a letter to the Delhi Police, claimed he anticipated “a very serious threat to his life” because of his complaint. He claimed a direct attempt was made to coerce him into withdrawing his complaint.
Nishikant Dubey’s complaint to Speaker Om Birla was referred to the Ethics Panel of Parliament, which called Nishikant Dubey and Jai Anand Dehadrai for a hearing.
In the meantime, Dubai-based businessman Darshan Hiranandani, in an explosive affidavit, claimed that Ms Moitra had indeed shared her parliament credentials with him to frame and post questions on the Adani group, which she felt was the “only way” to target PM Modi.
Mr Hiranandani further claimed that Ms Moitra was “dominating”, “ambitious”, and demanded several “favours”, including expensive luxury items, “providing support for the renovation of her officially allotted bungalow in Delhi”, and travel and holiday expenses. He said he gave in to her demands to retain their friendship and her support.
The affidavit was shredded by Ms Moitra, who alleged that the Prime Minister’s office “held a proverbial gun” to Mr Hiranandani’s head to make him sign the white paper that was “leaked to the press”.
However, just a day later, Mr Hiranandani, in an interview with a news channel, insisted that he had not filed the affidavit under any pressure. In the interview, the businessman said he spoke up since the “cash-for-query” allegations named him “directly and personally” and admitted that he used Mahua Moitra’s parliamentary login ID and password to post questions from Dubai.
The controversy took a surprising turn when Mahua Moitra admitted that she did share her parliament login ID and password with Mr Hiranandani. She also admitted to receiving gifts but said that the only things she got from Mr Hiranandani were “one scarf, some lipsticks, and other makeup items including eye shadow”. Ms Moitra, however, denied taking bribes from him and demanded that she be given the chance to cross-examine him.
The firebrand MP refused to appear before the Ethics Committee on October 31, the first summons she got. Explaining her stance, Ms Moitra said, “Chairman, Ethics Comm announced my 31/10 summons on live TV way before the official letter was emailed to me at 19:20 hours. All complaints and suo moto affidavits were also released to the media. I look forward to deposing immediately after my pre-scheduled constituency programmes end on November 4.” She called it a “selective leak of a plea bargain” and said it was part of the establishment’s “witch hunt into every political leader who dares question Adani”.
She finally appeared before the panel on November 2 but staged a walkout along with the Opposition MPs, questioning the way the meeting was conducted and accusing the panel of subjecting her to “proverbial vastraharan (stripping)” in a letter to the Speaker. The panel shot back saying she did not cooperate and left in order to avoid answering more questions.
The ethics committee chief Vinod Sonkar said Ms Moitra did not cooperate during her cross-examination. “Objectionable words were used against the panel’s functioning and me,” he said. Another panel member, Aparajita Sarangi, said Ms Moitra “behaved in an angry, arrogant manner when asked about Darshan Hiranandani’s affidavit”. But the Opposition MPs alleged that the committee asked “personal and unethical questions” to Ms Moitra, and one of the MPs leaked details of the meeting to the media while it was underway. “What kind of meeting was this? They are asking all kinds of filthy questions,” a visibly upset Ms Moitra told reporters.
On Wednesday, anti-corruption body Lokpal, which took up the case in a meeting and approved it, ordered a CBI probe into the corruption allegations against Ms Moitra, Nishikant Dubey said in a post on X. “On basis of my complaint, Lokpal has ordered a CBI probe into the Mahua Moitra’s corruption that compromises national security,” read the BJP MP’s post.
Th Ethics Panel will meet tomorrow to adopt the report on Mahua Moitra.