• Saturday, February 24, 2024

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Mahua Moitra, firebrand Modi critic, expelled by Indian parliament: ‘Kangaroo court’

The Ethics Committee of Lok Sabha had recommended her expulsion in the “cash-for-query” case.

Indian parliamentarian Mahua Moitra (ANI Photo)

By: Shubham Ghosh

MAHUA Moitra, leader of the Trinamool Congress, on Friday (15) equated her expulsion from the Lok Sabha with hanging by a “kangaroo court” and alleged a parliamentary panel is being weaponised by the government to force the opposition into submission.

Minutes after her expulsion as a Lok Sabha member, Moitra said she has been found guilty of breaching a code of ethics that does not exist and that there was no evidence of cash or gift given to her.

The Ethics Committee of Lok Sabha had recommended her expulsion in the “cash-for-query” case.

Flanked by leaders of the opposition bloc Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDA) who staged a walkout from the House, including former Indian National Congress presidents Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, Moitra read out a speech that she said was intended to be placed on the floor of the House. Moitra was not allowed to speak in the Lok Sabha during a discussion on the Ethics Committee report, citing precedents.

“The 17th Lok Sabha has indeed been historic, it is the House which saw the passage of women’s reservation rescheduling bill, but it has presided over the most tenacious witch-hunt of one of 78 women MPs, a first-timer, a single woman with no political lineage, from a far-flung constituency on the Bangladesh border,” Moitra said.

The Ethics Committee report was tabled in the House Friday noon. Later the government moved a motion seeking her expulsion from the House, saying her continuation as an MP has become “untenable”.

“This Lok Sabha has also seen the weaponization of a parliamentary committee,” she said.

“This report has broken every rule in the book. In essence you are finding me guilty of breaking a code of ethics that does not exist. Committee is punishing me for engaging in a practice that is routine, accepted and encouraged in the House,” she said.

She said one of the two complainants was her estranged partner with a mala fide intention who “masqueraded” as a common citizen before the ethics panel.

“The findings are based solely on the written testimonies of two private citizens whose versions contradict each other in material terms, none of whom I was allowed to cross-examine,” she said.

She said the two testimonies that have been used to “hang” her are polar opposite. “The complainant says I accepted cash and consideration from a businessman to ask questions in furtherance of his commercial interests. But the businessman’s suo motu affidavit says I pressured him to upload questions to further my agenda,” she said.

Moitra said the ethics panel did not go to the root of the issue and did not summon businessman Darshan Hiranandani who made the allegations against her.

“Recommendation of expulsion is solely on the ground that I shared my Lok Sabha login credentials. There are no rules whatsoever to govern the sharing of logins. As the hearing of the Ethics Committee demonstrates, all of us MPs are conveyor belts to get questions from citizens, the public, and to voice that in Parliament,” she said.

“If this Modi government thought that by shutting me up, they are going to do away with the Adani issue, let me tell you this, this kangaroo court has only shown to the whole of India that the haste and the abuse of due process you have used demonstrates how important Mr Adani is to you,” she said. Moitra said while it was alleged that she compromised with national security by sharing her login credentials, the Adani group, which has foreign investors, are buying ports and airports across the country.

“Tomorrow the CBI will be sent to my house I am sure. They will harass me for next six months, but I would like to ask what about the Rs 13,000 crore coal scam of Mr Adani that CBI and ED have not looked at,” she said. “You cannot detest Nari Shakti, you cannot handle power and authority. I am 49 years old, I will fight you for next 30 years, inside and outside Parliament,” Moitra added.

Businessman Hiranandani had claimed in a signed affidavit that the TMC MP from Krishnanagar raised questions in Parliament about the Adani Group to “malign and embarrass” prime minister Narendra Modi.

(With PTI inputs)

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