Several Opposition MPs, including the Trinamool Congress’ Mahua Moitra, stormed out of a meeting of the Lok Sabha Ethics Committee on Thursday, accusing the panel of asking her personal and unethical questions, PTI reported.
Moitra had appeared before the committee earlier in the day in connection with the alleged cash-for-query case.
The ethics committee had launched its investigation into the matter in October based on complaints by Bharatiya Janata Party MP Nishikant Dubey and Supreme Court advocate Jai Anant Dehadrai alleging that Moitra took bribes from businessperson Darshan Hiranandani to ask questions in Parliament.
Congress MP and panel member N Uttam Kumar Reddy told reporters after walking out of the meeting on Thursday that Opposition legislators found the committee’s questions to Moitra “undignified and unethical”.
However, the ethics committee’s chairperson Vinod Sonkar told reporters that instead of answering the questions, Moitra and other Opposition MPs got angry and avoided the matter, reported ANI. He also alleged that Moitra used unparliamentary language against them.
Dubey remarked that “no power in the world” could now save Moitra. “As parliamentarians, we are sad that we are part of a Parliament where MPs take money to ask questions,” the BJP MP said. “We are members of such a Parliament where corrupt MPs are being protected by the Opposition.”
Before today’s meeting, Dehadrai had said that his request is that the truth should come out, reported ANI.
“I do not want anything beyond that,” Dehadrai told the news agency on Thursday. “It is the committee’s right to decide what should or should not be done. Neither I nor anyone else can decide the function of the committee.”
Dehadrai added that he will reveal the truth.
“There are consequences to things that people say and at the appropriate time, I will certainly come out and explain what has happened,” he said. “I will come out with the truth. I am not afraid of anybody; I don’t get bullied by anybody. If somebody is trying to alter the narrative by trying to play the victim, the whole country is watching. I think the public is very intelligent, they know what is happening.”
On Wednesday, Moitra had also demanded that the committee allow her to cross-examine Dehadrai and Hiranandani.
In her letter, Moitra said that neither Dehadrai nor Hiranandani have any documentary proof to back the allegations of bribery. She said that the panel’s inquiry without giving her the chance to cross-question them would be “incomplete and unfair”.
The legislator also questioned whether the Ethics Committee was the appropriate forum to examine allegations of criminality.
She pointed out that the panel’s decision to not grant her extension contrasts the case of BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri, who is also being investigated by the Ethics Committee on a complaint of hate speech.
During a debate in Parliament on the success of India’s Chandrayaan-3 lunar mission on September 21, Bidhuri called Bahujan Samaj Party MP Kunwar Danish Ali a “mullah terrorist”, “pimp” and “katwa”, a slur used for circumcised Muslims.
Moitra noted that while the panel had summoned him to provide oral evidence on October 10, Bidhuri did not attend, saying that he was campaigning for elections in Rajasthan.