PMO drafted affidavit, held gun to Hiranandani’s head: Mahua Moitra
In a statement on Friday, Trinamool MP Mahua Moitra accuses PMO of threatening Darshan Hiranandani and his father and extracting a statement damning her
The so-called ‘approver-affidavit’ signed by businessman and industrialist Darshan Hiranandani damning her was drafted by some ‘half-wit’ in the prime minister's office (PMO) and sent by the PMO to Hiranandani, alleged Mahua Moitra, Lok Sabha MP in a statement released on Friday.
Hiranandani, the CEO of a real estate-to-energy group who allegedly paid Moitra to raise questions in Parliament about theAdani Group, said in a signed affidavit on Thursday that the TMC leader targeted Gautam Adani to "malign and embarrass" Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose impeccable reputation gave the Opposition no opportunity to attack him.
In his affidavit, forwarded to the Ethics Committee of the Lok Sabha, Hiranandani is said to have admitted that the MP, who he had met first in 2017, had given him access to her "Parliament login and password" to enable him to "directly post" questions against the Adani Group to the Lok Sabha.
The admission appears dubious, though, because while every MP is entitled to put questions to the government, not all questions pass through screening and scrutiny by the Lok Sabha secretariat. The shortlisted questions too go through a draw of lots before being forwarded by the Lok Sabha secretariat to the ministries concerned. It is not clear, therefore, what he meant by "directly posting" questions.
The Ethics Committee, which will be meeting on 26 October to look into the allegations against Moitra by BJP MP Nishikant Dubey, has summoned Dubey and Moitra’s former partner, criminal lawyer Jay Anant Dehadrai, on that day but not Moitra.
In the last 24 hours, the controversy took two swift turns. First, Hiranandani’s ‘affidavit’ was leaked and on Friday, Moitra’s lawyer told Delhi High Court, where her petition to restrain Dubey and Dehadrai from defaming her came up, that he had called Dehadrai on Thursday evening with an offer from Moitra; that if Dehadrai withdrew his complaint from the CBI, Moitra would withdraw her claim over her pet, Henry. The offer was turned down by Dehadrai, described by Moitra as a "jilted ex".
"An attempt was made yesterday afternoon, to coerce me into withdrawing my CBI complaint and letter to Nishikant Dubey in exchange for Henry. I flatly refused — will give details to CBI. Messenger is totally innocent — but tells you everything about her," posted Dehadrai.
Even more sensational, however, is Moitra’s allegation that it was the PMO which held a gun to Hiranandani’s head to extract the statement against her. The CEO, she says in the statement, was given 20 minutes to sign it and told that if he refused, PSU banks would stop financing his projects, CBI raids would be conducted and he would lose all business from the government.
Hiranandani, the statement points out, had accompanied PM Modi on a recent foreign trip as part of a business delegation. Two of his recent projects in Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat were inaugurated by the UP chief minister and prime minister respectively. His investments in UP alone amount to Rs 30,000 crore. With direct access to the PM and union ministers, why would Hiranandani need a first-time MP like Moitra from the Opposition to lobby for him, she wondered aloud.
Describing the contents of the affidavit as a "joke", she pointed to a statement released by Hiranandani on 16 October in which he had rubbished allegations about him being part of the ‘cash for query’ controversy. Why would he sign on a white paper three days later?
She is paying the price for questioning the Adani Group, she said and added that the government appeared desperate to deflect attention from the Adani Group.
The defiant MP concluded the statement by stating, “They cannot scare me… I will continue to stand up… I will pay any price to protect my country from these criminals”.
Dubey, meanwhile, posted on X in Hindi that this is "not a political fight but a fight to protect the dignity of Parliament".