Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Friday announced, “The House upholds the committee’s findings on the misconduct of MP Mahua Moitra as inappropriate for her position. As a result, her continuance as an MP is considered inappropriate.” With this announcement by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, Mahua Moitra’s five-year tenure as a Lok Sabha member ended with her expulsion from the Lower House due to allegations related to cash-for-question transactions.
It was alleged that after discussing cash for query report, the Trinamool MP was not given a chance to speak in her defence. After voting in favour of her expulsion, Trinamool leader Mahua Moitra came out of the Lok Sabha and made a statement and termed her expulsion as justice by a kangaroo court.
Regarding the ‘cash-for-query’ allegations, Moitra said that action was taken against her despite insufficient evidence. She said that action without testimony of Darshan Hiranandani is unfair. She said there was “no evidence of accepting cash or gifts anywhere.” Mahua said the recommendation for her removal was based only on the allegation that she had shared her Lok Sabha e-mail login with Darshan Hiranandani. Although there is no place in rule book where it is written that the punishment for sharing login can be expulsion from the House.”
The Ethics Committee report recommending Moitra’s removal was to be presented on the first day of the Winter session, but the government changed its strategy and got the Ethics Committee report discussed and voted on the December 8. Since the BJP led NDA has majority in the Lok Sabha, the proposal to expel Mahua Moitra from the House was also passed. However, the Opposition called this action a hasty step and said that the speed with which action was taken against Mahua Moitra was unexpected. Both Congress and Trinamool Party requested additional time to review the report.
Allegations against Mahua Moitra and support of Opposition
Mahua Moitra was accused of giving access to her Parliamentary e-mail login to industrialist Darshan Hiranandani while she was abroad. Apart from this, he also accepted cash and gifts from Darshan Hiranandani. At the behest of Hiranandani, Mahua Moitra raised many questions in the House to target Gautam Adani and Adani Group. In fact, the initial complaint in this case was lodged by Supreme Court lawyer and Mahua Moitra’s ‘ex’ Anant Dehadrai, which was later sent to the Lok Sabha Speaker by BJP MP Nishikant Dubey. The matter was then referred to the Ethics Committee, which after interrogating Nishikant Dubey, Jai Anant Dehadrai and Mahua Moitra, recommended their expulsion. The Lok Sabha acted on the Ethics Committee report, resulting in Moitra’s expulsion. Mahua Moitra’s expulsion became a focal point of the Opposition unity as Sonia Gandhi publicly supported Moitra after her expulsion. During the debate, Congress’ Lok Sabha leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury remarked that it was not possible to understand the long report in just two hours. Mamta Banerjee called the action ‘injustice to Mahua’. Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee criticised the process of expelling Mahua, saying that injustice has been done to Mahua. Banerjee questioned the adequacy of allotting only half an hour to all parties to review the 495-page report before joining the debate. Referring to INDI Alliance, he praised the unity among various Opposition parties and expressed gratitude for giving full support to the Mahua issue. Mamata Banerjee, while emphasising Mahua Moitra’s representation of women and the younger generation, accused Mahua of being deprived of the opportunity to present her side and said that this is not the expulsion of Mahua Moitra but tantamount to betrayal of democracy.
Timeline of Mahua Moitra’s ouster
October 15: BJP MP Nishikant Dubey files a complaint against Mahua Moitra with Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, alleging that she received cash and gifts from Darshan Hiranandani in return for raising questions against Adani in the Lok Sabha.
October 17: Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla directed to send the complaint to the Ethics Committee for further investigation.
October 19: Darshan Hiranandani submitted an affidavit confirming Moitra’s use of the Parliament login to submit questions on the Parliament website.
November 2: Mahua Moitra appeared before the Ethics Committee for questioning.
November 9: The Ethics Committee endorsed a report recommending the suspension of Mahua Moitra.
8 December: The Ethics Committee report proposing the expulsion of Mahua Moitra was tabled in the Lok Sabha for debate, resulting in her expulsion from the House.