Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Mahua Moitra on Thursday appeared before the Lok Sabha’s Ethics Committee for questioning in the cash-for-query controversy. Moitra has finished recording her verbal statement and will now be cross-examined by members of the ethics panel. The TMC MP had to wait as the panel examined reports received from various departments for nearly two hours.
In her verbal statement, Moitra denied any wrongdoing in the cash-for-query row and asked for documentary evidence of cash being allegedly given to her.
She has suggested the complaint has a “personal background” to it.
The TMC MP had to wait to record her statement as the ethics panel examined reports from various documents for nearly two hours.
The Trinamool leader has been accused of taking bribes to ask questions in Parliament. She had requested to push the date for appearing before the committee to after November 5, citing pre-scheduled Vijaya Dashami programmes. The panel, though, refused and asked the MP to appear before it on November 2.
In two letters to the ethics panel before today’s appearance, Moitra requested to “cross-examine” businessman Darshan Hiranandani and Supreme Court lawyer Jai Anant Dehadrai. She also questioned if the ethics panel was the right forum to investigate such alleged criminalities, adding that if it relied on any document from any department, then she should also be given a copy of it and be allowed to cross-examine the department concerned.
Sources close to the BJP had revealed that Moitra’s Parliament account was accessed 47 times from Dubai. They also said she undertook 14 unaccounted trips abroad during her tenure as a Member of Parliament. They alleged that the Lok Sabha Speaker’s (Om Birla) office was not provided with the necessary information pertaining to these trips.
The revelations came amid allegations by Hiranandani that the TMC MP gave him her Parliament login details to ask questions about the Adani Group, in a bid to target PM Modi.
Hiranandani made the claim in a ‘sworn affidavit’ that he submitted to the ethics panel. Moitra, however, has repeatedly junked the allegations, saying the businessman – a longtime close friend – was forced to write the ‘affidavit’ by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
The MP said the only things she received as gifts from Hiranandani were “one scarf, lipstick, and eye shadow”. Her remarks referenced accusations that she received gifts from the businessman to ask questions in Parliament.
The row started after BJP MP Nishikant Dubey wrote a letter to Om Birla and then to the ethics panel on Moitra taking bribes for questions. He based his letter on Jai Anant Dehadrai’s claim of having “irrefutable evidence” regarding the TMC MP taking bribes. Dehadrai is said to be the estranged partner of Moitra, and the former couple is currently fighting over the custody of their pet rottweiler. Moitra has refuted all allegations, and slammed Dubey and Dehadrai with “fake degree MP ” and “jilted ex” barbs.
Dubey has already appeared before the ethics panel in the case.