Rajat Sharma


AKB30 Trinamool Congress Mahua Moitra’s problems have now got bigger with the Lok Sabha Ethics Committee deciding to record oral evidence of BJP MP Nishikant Dubey in its meeting on October 26 on charges of ‘cash-for-question’ levelled against her. On Friday, Dubai-based businessman Darshan Hiranandani sent a notarized affidavit repeating his charges against Mahua Moitra to the Ethics Committee. The committee chairman Vinod Sonkar said, Mahua Moitra will also be called to place her views about the entire case. Moitra, however, questioned how the committee was going public with such details about Hiranandani’s letter listing charges against her, when committee rules say that all communications should be kept confidential. She alleged that the ethics committee chairman was openly speaking to the media, and questions have been raised on how an affidavit given to the committee found its way to the media. “BJP’s one-point agenda is to expel me from the Lok Sabha to shut me up on Adani issue”, Moitra alleged. Meanwhile, BJP MP Nishikant Dubey has requested Lok Sabha Speaker to take action on efforts being made to pressurize Mahua’s ex-friend advocate Jai Anant Dehadrai to withdraw his complaint from CBI. Delhi High Court said on Friday it was “appalled” to learn that Mahua’s counsel Sankaranarayanan had contacted Dehadrai on Thursday evening on phone and had persuaded him to withdraw his complaint. The counsel later withdrew from the case when Justice Sachin Dutta asked him how he was appearing for the petitioner when he was also acting as mediator for an out-of-court settlement. The high court will now hear the matter on October 31. As of now, the notarized affidavit submitted by Hiranandani clearly rubbishes Mahua Moitra’s charge that the businessman was “forced by PMO” to level the charges. In his affidavit, Hiranandani has admitted that Mahua Moitra gave her Parliament login and password to send questions to Lok Sabha secretariat. He has also alleged that he gave expensive gifts and footed her inland and foreign travel bills. The Ethics Committee may also call the Dubai-based businessman to appear and depose in this matter. Mahua Moitra is considered close to Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee, but it looks strange that, till now, not one senior TMC leader has come forward to defend her. It was Mamata Banerjee who first made her a party MLA and then got her elected as MP from Krishnagar. Mahua has been the most vociferous face among TMC MPs in Parliament, but now, when she is facing a crisis, not a single TMC leader has appeared in public to defend her. On the contrary, some other parties in the opposition INDIA alliance have sought to defend her. Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said, when questions are asked about a particular industrialist, the government becomes worried and the manner in which the Ethics Committee has been set, it “all looks pre-decided”. Telangana CM K Chandrashekhar Rao’s son K. T. Rama Rao said, “the probe should not be against those asking questions, but about the questions that have been raised. It should be probed whether the questions raised by Mahua Moitra had substance or not, whether there was a scam or not.” KCR’s Bharat Rashtra Samithi is not a part of INDIA alliance. RJD MP Manoj Jha defended Mahua saying it was Darshan Hiranandani who had denied all charges against Mahua when they were first levelled by Nishikant Dubey on October 15, but two days later he has sent a notarized affidavit admitting the charges were correct. “It means something fishy is going on in the background and it needs a thorough probe”, Jha said. Now, let me describe Mahua Moitra’s background. She is the daughter of an affluent Bengali Brahmin family. She was born in Assam, brought up in the US, worked as an investment banker with the multinational J P Morgan, and in 2009, she joined politics. She first joined Congress, came closer to Rahul Gandhi, but, after a year, she left the party and joined Trinamool Congress. She became a close associate of Mamata Banerjee, who fielded her as party candidate in 2016 assembly elections and got her elected as MLA. In 2019, Mamata fielded her from Krishnagar and got her elected as MP. Few people are so fortunate to rise up the political ladder in India so fast. Mahua is ambitious. She wanted to move up and up the ladder. There is nothing wrong in this, but now this yearning for more power has acted as a speed-breaker. Darshan Hiranandani has publicly admitted that Mahua gave her Parliament login and password to post questions to Lok Sabha secretariat. This is highly illegal and unethical. I remember, in 2005, 11 MPs faced charges for agreeing to ask questions in return for cash in a sting operation. In December, 2005, Parliament expelled all these 11 MPs. These included 10 from Lok Sabha and one MP from Rajya Sabha. At that time, the leaders of both Houses, Pranab Mukherjee and Dr Manmohan Singh had moved resolutions for expelling these members. Later their expulsions were challenged in Supreme Court. The apex court upheld the Parliament’s decision. Secondly, Mahua has not yet given any specific replies to the allegations made against her. She has not explained why Hiranandani helped to renovate her official bungalow and gave her expensive gifts, nor did she respond to the charge that she shared her Parliament login and password with Hiranandani. Mahua has been levelling charges against PMO, and questioning the format in which Hiranandani has levelled charges, but at the same time, her counsel is persuading her ex-friend to agree to an out-of-court settlement and withdraw his complaint. This entire episode can be summed up with the following Urdu couplet: “Tu idhar udhar ki baat naa kar, yeh bataa ki kaafila kyun luta, mujhe rehzanon se gila nahin, teri rehbari ka sawaal hai”. (Literal translation: Do not beat around the bush, tell us why the caravan was robbed, I have nothing to say about robbers, the question is about your leadership).

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