New Delhi, Dec 8 (EFE).- The Indian parliament on Friday expelled a vocal female opposition member for allegedly accepting gifts in exchange for asking question in what became known as a “cash-for-query” scandal.
Mahua Moitra, a member of the Trinamool Congress party, vehemently denies the accusations of impropriety related to receiving favors for parliamentary questions concerning alleged fraud and stock price manipulation by a business group led by coal tycoon Gautam Adani.
Adani is known for his proximity to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
A parliamentary panel found Moitra, a Lok Sabha member from West Bengal, guilty of “unethical conduct” by accepting money and gifts from another businessman to raise the Adani fraud issue in the lower house of the parliament.
She was also blamed for illegally sharing her parliamentary log-in credentials with a third person.
The female MP, known for her fiery parliamentary debates to attack the Modi government, was expelled on the same day a damning report from the ethics committee on her conduct was tabled.
The panel recommended her expulsion for sharing her log-in credentials and for receiving money and gifts from businessman Darshan Hiranandani.
Moitra allegedly posed a series of questions between 2019 and 2023 on the house floor, which would have allowed Hiranandani to “advance his business interests” by repeatedly attacking the Adani group, according to the report.
US investment research firm Hindenburg had accused the Adani group of manipulating its share prices on the stock market.
Moitra denied the allegations made by the ethics committee, stating that it had failed to prove the cash-for-query allegations.
“There was no evidence of any cash or gifts anywhere. The recommendation of expulsion was solely based on the complaint that I shared my login (details). But there is no rule whatsoever in this regard,” Moitra said after the house, with a brute BJP majority, voted to expel her.
She said the committee had become a tool in the hands of Modi’s government to overwhelm the opposition.
“If this Modi government thought that by shutting me up they could do away with the Adani issue, let me tell you this kangaroo court has only shown to all of India that the haste and the abuse of due process you have used demonstrate how important Adani is to you,” she told reporters.
She said the parliament’s decision also showed “to what length you will go to harass a single woman MP into shutting her into submission.”
“I will fight you for the next 30 years inside parliament, outside parliament.”
The controversy began after a complaint by BJP parliamentarian Nishikant Dubey in October, who alleged that most of Moitra’s questions focused on Adani.
Dubey claimed to have received “irrefutable” evidence from a lawyer, Jai Anant Dehadrai, of payments by a rival businessman. EFE