Mahua Moitra Report In Parliament Today, Opposition, BJP Braced For Row


Mahua Moitra's 'Mahabharat' Jab, Ethics Report Likely In Parliament Today

Mahua Moitra is a Trinamool Congress Lok Sabha MP from Bengal’s Krishnanagar (File).

New Delhi:

An Ethics Committee report on cash-for-query allegations against Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra is expected in the Lok Sabha today. If tabled, the report, which recommends Ms Moitra be expelled, will trigger an explosive stand-off between the ruling BJP and the opposition, which has demanded a division of votes to determine the Trinamool leader’s immediate political future.

Mahua Moitra, who can only be expelled if the House votes in favour of the Ethics Committee’s report, which declared it found her actions “highly objectionable, unethical, heinous and criminal”.

A confident, and typically fierce, Ms Moitra strode into Parliament this morning, pausing only to tell reporters, “Maa Durga aa gayi hai, ab dekhenge…Jab naash manuj par chhata hai, pehle vivek mar jaata hai (Maa Durga has come! Now we will see.. when destruction comes, conscience dies first).”

“They have started ‘vastraharan‘ and now you will watch ‘Mahabharat ka rann (battlefield)’.”

The BJP, though, is believed to be well-prepped and a three-line whip (the strictest possible) was issued to its MPs; this means they are expected to be present and vote in line with the party’s position.

The report was to have been tabled on Monday, the opening day of this session of Parliament, which concludes on December 22.

When it is finally tabled, the opposition has said it will demand a detailed discussion. Bahujan Samaj Party MP Danish Ali, one of the members of the Ethics Committee, told reporters Thursday, “If the report is tabled, we will insist on a full-fledged discussion… the draft was adopted in two-and-a-half minutes”, referring to opposition claims the BJP-led committee rushed the report.

READ | “Over In Minutes”: Danish Ali On Mahua Moitra Report, Committee Head Says…

Mahua Moitra, 49, is accused of taking bribes, including Rs 2 crore in cash, to ask questions critical of the Narendra Modi government. She has flatly denied the charges. Ms Moitra was also accused of surrendering her parliamentary log-in credentials to businessman Darshan Hiranandani, who allegedly paid her the bribe, so he could directly submit questions ahead of Parliament’s Question Hour.

Ms Moitra later admitted to the latter charge but argued this was common practice among MPs.

The charges against the Bengal leader provoked furious protests by the BJP, for whom MP Nishikant Dubey led calls she be investigated. Mr Dubey had written to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla to begin an inquiry. The Ethics Committee hearings concluded early last month in a 6:4 decision to expel.

READ | Ethics Panel Approves Mahua Moitra’s Expulsion In 6:4 Verdict

There was controversy over the hearings too, after Ms Moitra walked out of one on November 2 claiming “filthy questions” had been asked of her and her relationship to Supreme Court lawyer Jai Anant Dehadrai, who filed a second complaint with the CBI; that investigation began two weeks ago.

READ | CBI Begins Probe In Cash-For-Query Case Against Mahua Moitra

The committee and Chairperson Vinod Sonkar, however, said Ms Moitra had not co-operated during cross-examination and walked out, staging a dramatic exit, to avoid facing tough questions.

Eventually, a 500-page report was cleared with six members, including Congress MP Preneet Kaur voting to expel Mahua Moitra. Ms Kaur had earlier been suspended for “anti-party activities”.

READ | Suspended Congress MP Preneet Kaur’s Vote Decisive At Ethics Panel Meet

Several opposition MPs, including those on the Ethics Committee, have spoken out in favour of their colleague. They have declared the report a “fixed match” and claimed the BJP has no evidence to support its charges. Ms Moitra’s party, which remained silent in the initial stages of the inquiry, arguing it would wait for the report to be submitted before reacting, has since defended its member.

READ | “It Will Help Her…”: Mamata Banerjee Breaks Silence On Mahua Moitra Row

Trinamool boss and Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee accused the BJP of having “planned” the expulsion of Ms Moitra – who is one of the ruling party’s fiercest and most vocal critics. “… but this will help her before the election,” Ms Banerjee said. The 2024 Lok Sabha election is just months away.

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