Cash for Query Row: Investment Banker Turned MP Mahua Moitra Expelled from Parliament

Businessman Darshan Hiranandani, who allegedly paid Moitra to raise questions in Parliament about the Adani Group, had claimed in a signed affidavit that the TMC MP from Krishnanagar targeted industrialist Gautam Adani to 'malign and embarrass' Prime Minister.
Cash for Query Row: Investment Banker Turned MP Mahua Moitra Expelled from Parliament

New Delhi- Trinamool Congress leader Mahua Moitra, a vocal voice in the parliament, was expelled from the Lok Sabha on Friday on allegations of "cash-for-query." Moitra faced allegations of receiving money as a bribe from industrialist Hiranandani for asking questions in the parliament. The Ethics Committee of the Lok Sabha, led by BJP MP Vijay Sonkar, on Friday tabled the report in Parliament amid the ruckus created by opposition MPs. The report was passed by the Parliament, resulting in the expulsion of the TMC MP.

Announcing the expulsion of Mahua Moitra, Speaker Om Birla said, "The House accepts the conclusions of the committee that the conduct of Mahua Moitra was immoral and indecent as an MP. The Committee, which recommended the expulsion of Moitra, also demanded a probe into the 'money trail' of cash transactions between Mahua Moitra and Darshan Hiranandani as part of 'quid pro quo.' The 104-page document included the original complaint submitted by Dubey in October and a letter from advocate Jai Anant Dehadrai – both dated mid-October – as well as a notarized affidavit from Darshan Hiranandani.

Opposition leaders disputed the procedure followed by the Committee. Congress MP Shashi Tharoor also pointed out flaws in the report. "This report is a deeply inadequate document. It fails to meet the basic standards of any report that can come up with such a dramatic recommendation of expulsion. It has also been apparently adopted in two-and-a-half minutes without any serious discussion.” The opposition members also protested the fact that Mahua was not allowed to speak on the matter in parliament in her defense.

Businessman Darshan Hiranandani, who allegedly paid Moitra to raise questions in Parliament about the Adani Group, had claimed in a signed affidavit that the TMC MP from Krishnanagar targeted industrialist Gautam Adani to 'malign and embarrass' Prime Minister.

The controversy started in October when Supreme Court lawyer Jai Anant Dehadrai filed a complaint with CBI alleging “cash-for-query” charges against the TMC MP; he also forwarded a copy to Lok Sabha. Subsequently, BJP MP Nishikant Dubey wrote to the Lok Sabha Speaker, alleging that his Trinamool Congress fellow-parliamentarian Mahua Maitra accepted gifts and cash to raise queries in Parliament that were aimed at serving the interests of Darshan Hiranandani. The procedure for raising questions is governed by Rules 32 to 54 of the “Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha” and Directions 10 to 18 of the “Directions by the Speaker, Lok Sabha.”

Meanwhile, the TMC leader Moitra alleged that the Ethics Committee of the Lok Sabha “broke every rule in book” following her expulsion from the Lower House.

Moitra speaking at the steps of the Parliament after the Opposition parties walk out flanked by senior Opposition leaders including Sonia Gandhi and Farooq Abdullah among others, Moitra said, “I am 49-year-old, I will fight you for the next 30-years inside and outside Parliament."

Following the complaints, the Ethics Committee of Lok Sabha initiated an investigation into the allegation. The members of the committee are appointed for one year and include parliamentarians from across the political spectrum.

Six members of the panel voted in favour of the report. Four members of the panel belonging to opposition parties recorded their objections to the report.

BSP MP Danish Ali, who is also one of the members of the Ethics committee, said, "We believe the report is incomplete because the deposition was not completed. Five MPs walked out, and the report was adopted in two-and-a-half minutes. We want a discussion on this. The walkout by MPs was because they were asking filthy questions.” The committee, which was supposed to investigate the allegations by questioning all relevant parties, including the complainant, witnesses, called the act of sharing her 'Loksabha Login' details with another person “unethical conduct” and “Contempt of the House.”

Who is Mahua Moitra?

49-year-old Mahua Moitra is an Indian politician belonging to the Trinamool Congress. She entered the parliament after winning the Krishnanagar Lok Sabha seat in West Bengal in 2019. Before this, she served as a member of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly from 2016-2019 and represented the Karimpur assembly seat.

Investment Banker turned politician Moitra did her schooling in Kolkata and graduated from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, United States, with a degree in Economics and Mathematics. She worked as an investment banker for the internationally renowned JP Morgan Chase in New York and London. She left her job in 2009 to join the Indian Youth Congress - the youth wing of the Congress party. Subsequently, she switched to Trinamool Congress to contest the assembly seat from West Bengal. Responding to her expulsion, she said, "I am 49 years old. I will fight you for the next 30 years inside Parliament and outside Parliament,” she said and added that “the ethics panel report is being used as a weapon to force us into submission.”

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