Saturday, December 9, 2023

Cash-for-Query: LS Ethics Panel Accepts Report on Mahua Moitra with a 6:4 Majority; Opposition Expresses Doubts Over Panel’s Conclusions

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The Lok Sabha Ethics Committee’s endorsement of the report on the “cash-for-query” allegations involving Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra garnered robust support from leaders of various Opposition parties. During the meeting held on Thursday, the committee, tasked with investigating the charges against Mahua Moitra made by BJP MP Nishikant Dubey, adopted the report with a 6:4 majority.

According to the committee’s chairman, Vinod Sonkar, six members of the committee lent their support to the report, which notably included Congress MP Preneet Kaur, while four members dissented. A detailed report will be submitted to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on the following day.

“The recommendation report by the Parliament Ethics Committee has been adopted by the Committee with a 6:4 majority. Congress MP Preneet Kaur is one of the six MPs who supported the draft. A detailed report is being submitted to the Lok Sabha Speaker tomorrow…The action, whatever it is, will be taken by the Speaker,” Sonkar remarked.

Preneet Kaur, now with the BJP, has faced suspension from the Congress disciplinary committee earlier this year for alleged anti-party activities, as she was seen aiding the BJP in Punjab. Notably, her husband, Amarinder Singh, and daughter, Jai Inder Kaur, had joined the BJP the previous year.

Nishikant Dubey, in support of Kaur’s stance against Moitra, referred to the Congress MP as “uncompromising.” He expressed gratitude to her for her alignment with the truth.

Aparajita Sarangi, a BJP MP and a member of the Parliament Ethics Committee, commended Kaur for siding with the truth and stated that no right-minded person would support Mahua Moitra.

Last month, Nishikant Dubey filed a complaint with Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla against Moitra, alleging that she targeted the Adani Group in her parliamentary questions at the behest of businessman Darshan Hiranandani in exchange for gifts.

Vinod Sonkar mentioned that BSP MP Danish Ali submitted a dissent note, but the report on Mahua Moitra’s cash-for-questions case was adopted by a majority vote. The draft report accused Moitra of engaging in ‘unethical conduct’ and sharing her login credentials with unauthorized individuals.

The opposition MPs who submitted dissent notes contended that the inquiry was not conducted fairly. They maintained that Darshan Hiranandani should have been summoned by the committee to ensure a genuinely impartial investigation.

The draft report disclosed that Moitra visited the UAE multiple times between 2019 and 2023, during which her login was accessed numerous times from Dubai. The Ethics Committee has requested detailed reports from the Information Technology (IT) and Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) regarding IP addresses and locations, along with the MHA’s input on the legal consequences of sharing login credentials under Section IT ACT 2000.

The draft report recommended serious consequences for Mahua Moitra, including potential expulsion from the Seventeenth Lok Sabha and an in-depth, time-bound institutional inquiry by the Government of India due to her alleged unethical conduct and acceptance of gifts from Darshan Hiranandani, a Business Tycoon based in Dubai.

TMC leader and West Bengal Minister Shashi Panja criticized the public disclosure of the report before its scheduled debate and voting in the Ethics Committee meeting, deeming it unfair and inconsistent with the investigative process. She questioned the handling of the investigation, particularly in light of the swift actions taken against an MP raising questions about a prominent industrialist, while other issues remained unaddressed.

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