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Cash for query row: Allegations against Mahua Moitra 'very serious'; Ethics Committee summons TMC MP on Oct 31
Cash-for-Query
Photo courtesy: Videograb

Cash for query row: Allegations against Mahua Moitra 'very serious'; Ethics Committee summons TMC MP on Oct 31

| @indiablooms | 26 Oct 2023, 07:09 pm

New Delhi: Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra has been summoned to appear before the Lok Sabha Ethics Committee on October 31 in connection with the "cash for query" row, media reports said.

The committee deemed the accusations against Moitra as "very serious," according to an NDTV report.

During a session that lasted nearly three hours today, the committee listened to both BJP MP Nishikant Dubey and lawyer Jai Anant Dehadrai, thoroughly reviewing all aspects of the allegations made against the Trinamool Congress MP, the report said, citing sources.

Chairman of the ethics committee, Vinod Sonkar, informed the press that it has sent letters to the Information Technology Ministry and the Home Ministry, requesting specific details related to the case to facilitate a more comprehensive inquiry.

"We heard the lawyer and Nishikant Dubey ji. Taking note of the seriousness of the allegations, we have decided to summon Mahua Moitra on Tuesday. She should come and present her side of the matter," Sonkar told reporters after the Ethics Committee proceeding ended, according to NDTV.

Dehadrai, whose complaint to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) forms the basis of the entire case, was cross-examined by the ethics committee.

BJP MP Nishikant Dubey was allowed the opportunity to explain his accusations, sources said.

In reference to the CBI complaint, Dubey wrote to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, levelling cash-for-query charges against Moitra. The Trinamool MP has called the Supreme Court lawyer her "jilted ex".

Some Opposition members raised queries about Dubey's motives, citing Moitra's earlier demand for scrutiny of his educational qualifications.

Dubey, however, asserted that he has already been cleared of any wrongdoing in this connection, according to sources.

The letter alleged the presentation of "irrefutable evidence" showing businessman Darshan Hiranandani offering bribes to Moitra in exchange for posing certain questions in parliament, purportedly aimed to target the Adani Group.

The ethics committee will complete the examination and give a report to the Lok Sabha Speaker "as early as possible", NDTV reported citing people aware of the developments.

The sources cited the 2005 infamous cash-for-questions scam when the Pawan Bansal committee gave its report in just two weeks in December 2005. At the time, Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was in power in the centre.

Dehadrai described his interrogation proceedings were "cordial and pleasant" and he supplied answers to all the queries the ethics committee posed, the report said.

Nishikant Dubey said he would be available whenever the ethics committee calls him. "They were normal questions... All I can say is the MPs are concerned. When they call me next I will come. The question is whether the propriety and dignity of parliament will hold. It is a question of the dignity of parliament. The ethics committee is more worried than me," Dubey was quoted as saying by NDTV.

In an affidavit, Darshan Hiranandani accused the TMC’s Krishnanagar MP of sharing her MP email, allowing him to help her raise questions in parliament.

But later she gave him her parliament login and password so that he could post the questions directly.

The ethics committee has reached out to the Information Technology Ministry and the Home Ministry in connection to the alleged misuse of the parliament login ID and password by Moitra.

However, Moitra has rubbished the charges and asserted that she is ready for any probe and answer questions from the Lok Sabha ethics committee.

So far, the Trinamool Congress and its INDIA bloc allies have maintained silence on the matter and haven’t aired their support for Moitra.

The Mamata Banerjee-led party has said it will not remark on the matter.

The party's leader in the Rajya Sabha, Derek O'Brien, has said the party will take appropriate action on the accusations against Moitra following the parliamentary panel’s submission of the report.

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