Why is ethics committee not examining Darshan Hiranandani, asks Moitra

Darshan Hiranandani, an Indian citizen, claims to have bribed her to ask questions in Parliament. Why isn’t the Ethics Committee then examining him, asks Lok Sabha MP

Mahua Moitra claims to be the victim of a political witch hunt (photo: Getty Images)
Mahua Moitra claims to be the victim of a political witch hunt (photo: Getty Images)

Shalini Sahay

Speaking to journalist and YouTuber Barkha Dutt, Lok Sabha MP Mahua Moitra, who stormed out of the Lok Sabha Ethics Committee on Wednesday, ruled out appearing before the committee again as long as Vinod Sonkar continues as chairman.

Sonkar, she has alleged, asked her personal, irrelevant and demeaning questions from a script given to him. When she protested, the chairman told her she could reply by saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ or refuse to say anything — to which she had retorted that if he was asking her to reply in ‘yes or no’ to questions like whether "she was a prostitute", she would not put up with that line of questioning.

Hiranandani’s affidavit, she pointed out, came out of the blue barely two days after he had rubbished the allegations made in the complaint by BJP MP Nishikant Dubey. On 15 October, Dubey filed his complaint and released it to the media, Hiranandani officially rubbished the charges on 16 October, but an affidavit on a white paper allegedly by him surfaced on social media the next day, and the day after, it was mysteriously notarised. Why would Hiranandani file an affidavit on his own, without being summoned by the committee, Moitra asked.

She had earlier told news agency PTI that this was a "political witch hunt", with the BJP using the services of an MP who she has accused of flaunting a fake degree, and an estranged partner with whom she is fighting a custody battle over a shared pet.

Countering the allegations of receiving bribes, the MP pointed out that even the notarised affidavit makes no mention of the cash bribe of Rs 2 crore; nor does the affidavit list out the gifts Hiranandani allegedly gave her.

She claimed that she had known Hiranandani since before becoming an MP and he remained a friend. He had presented her with a scarf on her birthday once, and she had availed of the services of the architects in his company to prepare four engineering drawings to renovate her official bungalow by the CPWD.

She has already admitted that Hiranandani’s car would pick her up from the airport on her "four to five visits to Mumbai" in the last five years.

Referring to the three expensive bags that she carried into the committee room, Moitra explained that she always carried them, that one carried her lunch and the other her laptop, along with the Louis Vuitton handbag she is always seen with.

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