The Lok Sabha Ethics Committee on Thursday adopted its report on the cash-for-query allegations against Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra, said panel chief Vinod Sonkar.
“Six members supported the report while four members submitted their dissent notes,” Sonkar said, ANI reported. “A detailed report is being submitted to the Lok Sabha speaker tomorrow. The action, whatever it is, will be taken by the speaker.”
The panel was looking into complaints by Bharatiya Janata Party MP Nishikant Dubey and advocate Jai Anant Dehadrai, who have accused Moitra of taking bribes from businessman Darshan Hiranandani to ask questions in Parliament.
In its 500-page draft report, the panel has recommended Moitra’s expulsion from the 17th Lok Sabha, NDTV reported on Wednesday. The MP’s actions are “highly objectionable, unethical, heinous and criminal”, the panel reportedly said.
Among those who supported the report on Thursday was Congress leader Preneet Kaur, the wife of former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh who is now with the BJP. The five others who voted to adopt the report were leaders from the National Democratic Alliance, reported The Indian Express.
Bahujan Samaj Party leader Danish Ali, Congress’ V Vaithilingam, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader PR Natarajan and Janata Dal (United) leader Giridhari Yadav submitted their dissent notes against it.
Ali flagged “procedural errors” in the process of formulating the ethics panel report. “Such a big report but there was no discussion,” the BSP leader told ANI. “Is this the way to do things? Starting from day one, we have raised objections on the procedure being followed.”
He said that the report did not have details of the panel’s first meeting when “questions were raised by the Opposition”.
Sonkar, a BJP leader, responded saying that although some committee members wanted to obstruct the investigation, the report was adopted by a majority.
Moitra said that she would be back in the next Lok Sabha with a bigger mandate even if she is expelled now, reported PTI. “For India, it is the death of parliamentary democracy,” she added.
TMC extends support to Moitra
Reacting to media reports about the ethics committee calling for Moitra’s expulsion, Trinamool Congress national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee on Thursday questioned the action when charges against her have not been proven.
“What I read of the ethics committee report, they have said an investigation should happen against her,” said Banerjee while addressing reporters after his questioning at the Enforcement Directorate’s office in Kolkata. “If you do not have anything against Mahua and it is the subject of investigation, then why has an expulsion been recommended? I feel Mahua is competent enough to fight her battles on her own.”
This was the first comment from the Trinamool Congress in the matter.
Banerjee said that there were many BJP leaders against whom cases are pending before the ethics committee. “Nothing has happened against Ramesh Bidhuri,” he said. “Only when somebody speaks against the government, questions are raised.”
He was referring to Bidhuri’s communal tirade against Danish Ali in Parliament on September 21. Several MPs had filed complaints against him that the panel is still examining.
Moitra’s letter to Om Birla
Moitra on Thursday wrote to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, alleging a “total breakdown of all due process” and rules of the House. This came as news organisations, citing unidentified people, reported about the draft report before it had been submitted to Birla.
Moitra told Birla that NDTV, a television news channel owned by the Adani Group, was “openly claiming” that it had accessed the report, which was a “very serious breach of Rule 275(2) contained in the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha”.
She added, “It is even more shocking because this media channel is majority owned by the Adani Group, against whom I have raised very serious issues of corporate fraud and breach of financial and securities regulations, in the Lok Sabha.”
The Opposition leader said that she was being targeted for speaking out against the conglomerate.
Moitra called this an “egregious breach” of the rules and accused the speaker of “inaction and lack of response to my previous complaints”.
Dubey on Wednesday claimed that anti-corruption body Lokpal has ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry against Moitra based on a complaint that he filed on October 21, alleging that she engaged in “rampant corruption” and misused her public office.
He had cited a letter written by Dehadrai referring to Hiranandani having access to the Trinamool Congress leader’s Lok Sabha login credentials.