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OPINION | MAHUA MOITRA: MORALITY, MOTIVATION AND MISSION

The entire matter has gone to Parliament’s Ethics Committee because BJP MP Nishikant Dubey has accused Mahua Moitra of taking bribes from a businessman (Darshan) for asking questions in the House and he had urged Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla to constitute an inquiry committee to look into the charges.

Rajat Sharma Written By: Rajat Sharma @RajatSharmaLive New Delhi Updated on: October 20, 2023 18:00 IST
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Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra may be in deep trouble after Darshan Hiranandani, the CEO of Hiranandani Group, sent an affidavit to the Ethics Committee of Lok Sabha alleging that she provided him her Lok Sabha website login and password so that he could post questions directly on her behalf when required. In the three-page affidavit submitted on Thursday to the Ethics Committee, and released to the press by the businessman’s corporate communications team, Hiranandani, who lives in Dubai, has alleged, “Ms. Moitra drafted a few questions that would have elements to embarrass the government by targeting the Adani group; questions that she could raise in Parliament. She shared with me her email ID as a Member of Parliament, so that I could send her information, and she could raise the questions in Parliament. I went along with her proposal.” 

The affidavit further states, “She…requested me to keep supporting her in her attacks on the Adani group and provided me her Parliament login and password so that I could post the questions directly on her behalf when required.” In the affidavit, the businessman alleged that Moitra made frequent demands and kept asking him for favours, which he “had to fulfil in order to remain in close proximity with her and get her support.”

Hiranandani, in his affidavit, alleged that Moitra “made frequent demands” including “expensive luxury items, providing support on renovation of her officially allotted bungalow in Delhi, travel expenses, holidays, etc., apart from providing secretarial and logistical help for her travels within India and to different parts of the world.” The affidavit also says, Moitra “thought that the only way to attack Shri Modi is by attacking Shri Gautam Adani and his group as both were contemporaries, and they belong to the same state of Gujarat.” 

Hiranandani said in the affidavit that Mahua Moitra targeted industrialist Gautam Adani to “malign and embarrass” Prime Minister Narendra Modi, “whose impeccable reputation gave the opposition no opportunity to attack him.” Late on Thursday night, Mahua Moitra issued a statement alleging that the affidavit was “drafted by the PMO” and “the PMO held a proverbial gun to Darshan and his father’s heads and gave them 20 minutes to sign this letter.” 

In her statement, Moitra alleged, “Three days ago (16.10.2023), the Hiranandani Group put out an official press release stating that all charges levelled against them were baseless. Today (19.10.2023), an “approver affidavit” has been leaked to the press. This affidavit is on a white piece of paper with no letter and there is no official origin aside from a press leak. Why would one of India’s most respected/educated businessman sign a letter like this on white paper unless a gun was put to his head to do it?” Moitra said, “Though tragic, it is totally understandable that Darshan (who is a dear friend) would need to think of what is at stake for him here – namely the continuation of his family businesses built up over decades and the fate of thousands of employees – or buckle under pressure and sign this.” She also said in her statement, “Why would such a wealthy successful businessman who enjoys direct access to every Minister and the PMO be coerced by a first-time opposition MP into giving her gifts and giving in to her demands? It is totally illogical and only cements the truth that this letter was drafted by the PMO and not Darshan”. 

Moitra stated, “He (Darshan) has not even been summoned by any investigative agency or the Ethics Committee yet. ..If indeed he has confessed to this, then why is he not releasing its officially rather than through backchannel leaks? The truth is exceedingly clear.” Moitra also hit out at her estranged partner and lawyer Jai Anant Dehadrai, who has accused her to taking bribes, saying, he is a “jilted ex with an acrimonious personal history with me who wanted to somehow get back at me. If indeed he was witness to all of my corruption, then why was he with me during the time and why did he wait till now to make it public?”  

The entire matter has gone to Parliament’s Ethics Committee because BJP MP Nishikant Dubey has accused Moitra of taking bribes from a businessman for asking questions in the House and he had urged Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla to constitute an inquiry committee to look into the charges. Dubey has claimed that Dehadrai, the lawyer, has shared “irrefutable” evidence of bribes given to Moitra. In a related development on Friday, Mahua Moitra’s counsel senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan withdrew himself from the case after the Delhi High Court was informed by advocate Jai Anant Dehadrai that he was contacted by Sankaranarayanan over phone on Thursday night to withdraw his complaint to CBI against Moitra. Justice Sachin Datta said, he was “appalled” and asked whether Sankaranarayanan who tried to play the role of a mediator is still eligible to appear in the case? 

The counsel promptly said he was withdrawing himself from the case and further hearing has been listed for October 31. Mahua Moitra had filed a petition in the High Court seeking directions to restrain Nishikant Dubey, Dehadrai and several social media platforms like X, Google, YouTube and 15 media houses, from making, publishing, circulating per se defamatory, ex facie false and malicious statements against her. She has also sought damages. There is no doubt that Darshan Hiranandani’s affidavit before the Parliament Ethics Committee contains sensational allegations and to some extent, they indicate that Nishikant Dubey’s charges against Moitra could be correct. Darshan Hiranandani knew Mahua Moitra, they used to meet and talk often. 

There is nothing wrong in this, but Hiranandani has admitted that it was he who gave Mahua “information” relating to Adani group. Mahua asked questions about Adani group in Parliament, but she took it to the extreme by sharing her login and password for Parliament website with Hiranandani. The most objectional part of the allegations is that Hiranandani has confessed that he used to post questions to Parliament about Adani group in Mahua Moitra’s name. He has confessed that he gave expensive gifts to her and helped her to renovate her bungalow. I think this is quite unethical and immoral for a Member of Parliament. I had said it a day before that those who live in glass houses must not throw stones at others. As far as Mahua’s reply is concerned she has not replied to the basic questions that relate to the sanctity of Parliament. "तू इधर उधर की न बात कर ये बता कि क़ाफ़िला क्यूँ लुटा, मुझे रहज़नों से गिला नहीं तिरी रहबरी का सवाल है".

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