Cash-for-query row: What are the allegations against Mahua Moitra?
New Delhi : The cash-for-query allegations levelled by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Nishikant Dubey against Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Mahua Moitra have snowballed into a huge political storm. The parliamentary ethics committee is investigating the charges.
Earlier this month, Dubey accused the West Bengal MP of accepting cash and favours for asking questions in Parliament at the behest of a businessman. The matter was then referred to the Lok Sabha Ethics Committee by the Speaker for investigation and report. The panel has recorded the statements of the BJP MP and advocate Jai Anant Dehadrai, another complainant.
Meanwhile, Mahua Moitra has rejected “false, malicious and defamatory accusations” against her. She is expected to appear before the panel on November 2.
Allegations against Mahua Moitra
1. Quid pro quo
BJP MP Nishikant Dubey has alleged “direct involvement” of Mahua Moitra in the ‘cash for query’ in Parliament, in his letter dated October 15. He cited a letter received from advocate Jai Anant Dehadrai and claimed that there is “irrefutable evidence” that Mahua Moitra took bribes from the CEO of the Hiranandani Group Darshan Hiranandani for asking quations in the Lok Sabha. Dehadrai and Mahua Moitra were in a relationship but separated and are currently fighting a legal battle over the custody of their pet dog.
2. PM Modi, Adani targetted
Nishikant Dubey has alleged that 60 questions that the Trinamool MP asked in the Lok Sabha either protect or further the interests of businessman Darshan Hiranandani and his company. “The questions were also often focused on the Adani Group, another business conglomerate, Hiranandani Group was bidding for business against,” the MP mentioned in his complaint to the Speaker.
The BJP leader claimed that the “conspiracy” includes “vehemently” targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi by constantly referring to the Adani Group, “giving the impression that she was critical of the government, possibly with the intention of seeking cover against her clandestine criminal operation.”
“After having meticulously gone through all the papers/documents, there is not an iota of doubt about a criminal conspiracy hatched by Ms. Moitra to garner and protect the business interests of a businessman — Shri Darshan Hiranandani — by asking Parliamentary Questions…” Dubey said.
“… Now, with the unmasking of quid pro quo in the form of an ugly and deliberate motive of Ms. Moitra, to raise money from a businessman in lieu of asking questions in Lok Sabha, targeting another business group, it has become amply clear that the edifice of ‘morality’ being exhibited by Ms. Mahua Moitra was nothing but a ‘Machiavellian Camouflage’ for committing a crime by entering into a criminal conspiracy and at the same time enjoying the title given to Ms. Moitra as a ‘firebrand MP’, which is nothing but a sham,” he added.
3. Policy breach
After Mahua Moitra admitted that she gave access to her online Parliament account to Dubai-based Hiranandani, Dubey further alleged that she has violated the government policy. In a separate complaint filed with the anti-corruption ombudsman Lokpal, Dubey has alleged that Mahua Moitra's parliamentary ID was accessed in Dubai while she was in India. He has also approached the National Informatics Centre (NIC).
In a signed affidavit to the Lok Sabha Ethics Committee, Darshan Hiranandani had earlier claimed that Mahua Moitra provided him with her login credentials so that he could “post the questions” “on her behalf when required”. The businessman added the TMC MP “thought that the only way to attack Sh. Modi [Prime Minister] is by attacking Sh. Gautam Adani and his Group as both were contemporaries and they belong to the same state of Gujarat.”
Meanwhile, Dubey shared screenshots of the e-mail policy released by the Government of India on X in 2014, calling it an issue bigger than the 2005 cash-for-query scam.