An Ethics Committee report on alleged cash-for-query activities involving Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra is expected to be presented in the Lok Sabha today. The report recommends that Moitra be expelled from the House, which could lead to a confrontational situation between the ruling BJP and the opposition parties. The opposition has demanded a division of votes to determine Moitra’s immediate political future.
For Moitra to be expelled, the House must vote in favor of the Ethics Committee’s report, which has described her actions as “highly objectionable, unethical, heinous, and criminal.” The BJP has reportedly prepared its MPs for the vote and issued a three-line whip, requiring them to be present and vote according to the party’s position.
Originally scheduled to be tabled on Monday, the report’s delayed presentation has sparked demands from the opposition for a detailed discussion. Danish Ali, a member of the Ethics Committee from the Bahujan Samaj Party, stated that if the report is tabled, they will insist on a thorough discussion. The opposition has accused the BJP-led committee of rushing the report, claiming that it was adopted in just two-and-a-half minutes.
Moitra, who is 49 years old, has been accused of accepting bribes, including Rs 2 crore in cash, in exchange for asking critical questions about the Narendra Modi government. She has vehemently denied these allegations. Additionally, Moitra has been accused of surrendering her parliamentary log-in credentials to businessman Darshan Hiranandani, who allegedly provided her with the bribe, so he could submit questions directly before Parliament’s Question Hour.
These charges against Moitra have sparked outrage from the BJP, with MP Nishikant Dubey leading calls for an investigation into her actions. Dubey wrote to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, urging him to initiate an inquiry. The Ethics Committee hearings concluded last month with a 6:4 decision in favor of expulsion.
There was also controversy surrounding the hearings, as Moitra walked out of one session on November 2, claiming that she was asked “filthy questions” about her relationship with Supreme Court lawyer Jai Anant Dehadrai, who filed a second complaint with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The CBI initiated an investigation into the matter two weeks ago.
Moitra’s lack of cooperation during cross-examination and her dramatic exit from the hearings were cited by the committee and Chairperson Vinod Sonkar as reasons for her expulsion. Ultimately, a 500-page report was approved by six members, including Congress MP Preneet Kaur, who voted in favor of expelling Moitra. Kaur had previously been suspended for “anti-party activities.”
Several opposition MPs, including those on the Ethics Committee, have spoken out in support of Moitra, calling the report a “fixed match” and asserting that the BJP has no evidence to support its allegations. Moitra’s party initially remained silent during the inquiry, stating that it would wait for the report before issuing a response, but has since defended its member.
Trinamool Congress leader and Chief Minister of Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, has accused the BJP of planning Moitra’s expulsion. Banerjee, who is one of Moitra’s strongest critics within the ruling party, stated that the expulsion would ultimately benefit Moitra ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha election, which is just months away.
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