Decoding the anti-national activities of Mahua Moitra
Rivals claim her political future is ‘finished’, while she alleges a deliberate effort to oust her from Lok Sabha 7 months early. How serious are allegations against her?
A ‘criminal lawyer’ in the Supreme Court, an ‘honourable’ BJP MP keen to uphold the dignity of Parliament and one of the richest businessmen have come together to level ‘serious’ charges against Mahua Moitra, the first time Lok Sabha Member of the All India Trinamool Congress.
The lawyer, Moitra’s former partner, has written to the CBI asking for an inquiry against his former partner’s alleged misconduct in what has come to be known as the ‘cash for query scandal’. The BJP MP has complained to the ethics committee of the Lok Sabha based on the complaint to the CBI, not waiting for the agency’s findings. The businessman has signed an ‘affidavit’, leaked to the media, confirming the allegations of the lawyer.
Being both successful and ‘honourable’ men, it is assumed that all three are serious and their motives are beyond reproach. What is it that they have alleged though? A plain reading of the documents shared in public reveal the following allegations:
1. Mahua Moitra, a former investment banker and daughter of a tea planter, is fond of expensive handbags, shoes, jewelleries etc. and accepted gifts from her ‘jilted-Ex’ and her ‘dear friend’, the businessman.
2. In order to gain popularity and defame Prime Minister Modi, she targeted Gautam Adani and the Adani Group through her questions in Parliament.
3. She collaborated with various anti-Modi and anti-Adani people like Hindenburg Research in New York, business journalist Sucheta Dalal and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who were also asking questions and demanding answers from the PM.
4. She shared her personal login ID and password to access the parliament’s portal with her businessman friend Darshan Hiranandani, who directly posted anti-Adani questions to the portal on her behalf.
The last allegation, described as a serious breach of ethics (not national security yet), is what the ethics committee of the Lok Sabha will look into when it meets on Thursday next week to hear ‘oral evidence’.
The media trial of Moitra during the past few days and the discourse around it state that Moitra asked as many as 50 questions targeting Adani to ‘defame’ the PM. The figure, if correct, can come only from the Lok Sabha secretariat with access to the portal. Not all of them were clearly admitted by the secretariat because the questions go through scrutiny, screening and a ballot before 20 ‘starred’ questions for oral answer by a union minister and up to 230 ‘unstarred’ questions (for written answers) are accepted for every day of the Lok Sabha session.
What is more, a Member of Parliament has to give 15 days’ notice and cannot submit more than five notices for each day of the session. Moitra, being more tech savvy than many other MPs, can be assumed to have used the members’ portal to send the notices. This is what her businessman friend could have used, with Moitra’s permission, to post a notice.
The question is how many notices did the businessman post on her behalf and whether this is a breach of ethics since the Lok Sabha secretariat is expected to scrutinise and screen questions and not the people prompting the questions. MPs are routinely supplied questions by activists, NGOs, journalists, trade unions, businessmen and others. If such prompting is ‘unethical’, the rules do not seem to say so.
So, how serious are allegations against Moitra? Very serious indeed. She tried asking questions on the Adani Group. She tried to defame the prime minister. She accepted gifts from her former partner and businessman friend. She gave access to the members’ portal to the businessman. She ‘conspired’ with anti-Adani and anti-Modi elements.
Surely, they are all anti-national activities? The on-going media trial and the impending CBI inquiry, besides the hearing before the ethics committee would surely bring out much more dirt from her rattling cupboard, enough to defame her and besmirch her reputation?