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Cash-for-query row: Moitra writes to LS ethics panel head saying cannot appear on Oct 31, seeks fresh date

Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra has written to the Lok Sabha Ethics Committee expressing her inability to appear before it on October 31 in connection with cash-for-query allegations and urged the panel to set a date of its convenience after November 5.

In her letter to committee chairperson Vinod Kumar Sonkar, she said she represents West Bengal where Durga Puja is the biggest festival and that she has committed to attend numerous political and government-organised programmes in her constituency between October 30 and November 4 and cannot be in Delhi on October 31.

“Therefore, I request to be given time to appear in person before the committee at any date and time of the committee’s choice after November 5,” she said citing the “recent example” of BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri being given an extension of time for appearing before the Privileges Committee after he requested postponement due to “pre-fixed political meetings”.

Sharing the letter on X, she said, “Chairman, Ethics Committee announced my October 31 summons on live TV way before the official letter emailed to me at 7:20 PM (on Thursday). All complaints and suo moto affidavits were also released to the media. I look forward to deposing immediately after my pre-scheduled constituency programmes end on November 4.”

The Ethics Committee had on Thursday recorded the statements of lawyer Jai Anant Dehadrai and BJP MP Nishikant Dubey, who had submitted complaints against her. The panel then decided to call her on October 31.

She also sought permission to cross-examine businessman Darshan Hiranandani, who had submitted an affidavit substantiating the allegations levelled by Dubey and Dehadrai that she took gifts and cash for raising questions in Parliament and that she provided her official log-in credentials to him to post questions against a business rival.

Mahua claimed that Darshan’s affidavit was “extremely scant in detail” and provides “no actual inventory of what he has allegedly given” her.

“…it is also imperative that he appears before the committee and provide a detailed verified list of the alleged gifts and favours he allegedly provided to me. I wish to place on record that any enquiry without the oral evidence of Hiranandani will be incomplete, unfair and akin to holding a proverbial kangaroo court and that he too will need to be called to depose before the committee before it prepares its final report,” she said.

Mahua said that she had written to the committee expressing “eagerness” to be given “a fair hearing and an adequate opportunity to defend myself against the false, malicious and defamatory accusations levelled against me by Dubey and Dehadrai.” She claimed that the Committee against the order of natural justice summoned and heard the complainants before allowing her a chance to be heard.

Moitra said she has an “impeccable record of personal integrity”, adding that she is “a vocal member of the Opposition responsible for raising my voice against various corporate scams.”

(Published 27 October 2023, 08:27 IST)

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