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Ethics panel recommends expulsion of Mahua Moitra from LS; MP says 'pre-fixed match by kangaroo court'

New Delhi: The Lok Sabha Ethics Committee on Thursday recommended the expulsion of Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra, a vocal Modi critic, from Parliament, accusing her of “unethical conduct” that impacted national security after its examination of allegations of ‘cash for query’ against her.

Sources said the panel also recommended an “intense, legal, institutional inquiry” against her “criminal” conduct of sharing Lok Sabha login credentials to unauthorised persons.

Responding to the Ethics Committee action, Mahua was quoted by PTI as saying, “This is a pre-fixed match by a kangaroo court. For India, it is the death of parliamentary democracy. Even if they expel me, I will be back in next Lok Sabha with bigger mandate.”

The adoption of the report by the panel headed by BJP MP Vinod Sonkar came in three sittings spanning 14 days – on October 26, November 2, and 9 – and amid objections from Opposition MPs in the panel. The report was adopted with a 6-4 vote.

The proceedings, which concluded in less than 30 minutes, saw Congress MP Preneet Kaur, the wife of BJP leader and former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh who quit the Congress, breaking ranks to join BJP MPs to vote in favour of expelling Mahua. Congress MP N Uttam Kumar could not attend the meeting as he was filing nominations for Telangana elections.

Five MPs – Congress’ Reddy and V Vaithilingam, BSP’s Danish Ali, CPI(M)’s P Natarajan and JD(U)’s Giridhari Yadav – submitted their almost identical dissent notes, opposing the recommendation. Opposition sources said Reddy has emailed his dissent note.

With the adoption of the report and after it is submitted to the Speaker, it will be tabled in Lok Sabha in the upcoming Winter Session. With BJP and its allies having a majority in Lok Sabha, a motion to expel the Trinamool MP will be moved.

“We have adopted the report after a 6-4 vote. The report will be submitted to the Speaker,” Sonkar told reporters after the meeting. He said Kaur supported the recommendations to keep the standards of Parliament.

Opposition MPs accused the chairperson of rushing through the adoption of the report without any proper discussion. They claimed Kaur told them that she was under pressure to vote for Mahua’s expulsion.

Sources said the report felt that Mahua’s “serious misdemeanours” calls for “severe punishment” and the committee recommended that Mahua “may be expelled” from the membership of 17th Lok Sabha.

“In view of the highly objectionable, unethical conduct of Mahua Moitra, the committee recommended an intense, legal, institutional inquiry by the Government of India in a time-bound manner,” sources quoted the report as saying, in connection with Mahua “sharing” her log-in credentials with Darshan.

On the charges of Mahua “accepting money – cash and kind, amenities and various other facilities” from Darshan, a “business tycoon, based in Dubai, UAE”, the report said the money trail of cash transactions between the duo as a part of quid pro quo should be investigated by the government in a “legal, institutional and time-bound manner.”

The committee also suggested that the panel should “admonish” its member BSP MP Danish Ali for “twisting/moulding” the intent of question put forth by Sonkar to Mahua during November 2 hearing with the “objective of fomenting sentiments of public at large as well as disparaging the self esteem of the chairperson and other members.”

BJP MP Nishikant Dubey and lawyer Jai Anant Dehadrai, a former partner of Mahua, had complained to Lok Sabha Speaker accusing her of asking questions to target the Adani Group at the behest of businessman Darshan Hiranandani in exchange for bribes and gifts.

She was accused of sharing her log-in credentials so that Darshan could directly key-in questions.

(Published 09 November 2023, 11:04 IST)

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