Kolkata | Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra, who accused the Lok Sabha Ethics Committee of asking humiliating questions during a "cash-for-query" hearing, expressed her readiness to cooperate with the probe while stressing the importance of protection from misogyny and maintaining a standard of decency.
In an interview with PTI, Moitra dubbed the ethics committee probe as a "political witch-hunt" and said the sole intention is to "suspend her" from Parliament.
Moitra, who alleged that she was asked irrelevant questions about her personal life during the committee's hearing, said, "I am always ready for the probe and to answer all the questions. But there has to be a line of decency which needs to be mentioned. I need protection from cheap and derogatory questioning. I have written about this to the Lok Sabha Speaker too." The Krishnanagar MP affirmed her willingness to answer any questions related to the probe.
She said, "I have told the Lok Sabha Speaker that he has to give me protection against the filthy, disgusting misogyny. Anything related to the inquiry, I have already answered. I have clarified my position 100 times. If I have broken any rule, I should be informed about it. If they want to ask me any questions, it's okay, but not in this setup." Moitra explained that she had already addressed questions regarding her login ID and gifts, stating that nothing she had done was illegal.
She has been accused of posing questions via her parliamentary account at the behest of businessman Darshan Hiranandani and sharing her login credentials with him, with the complaint filed by BJP MP Nishikant Dubey.
Following the ethics panel meeting, its chairperson and BJP MP Vinod Kumar Sonkar said the committee's task was to conduct a comprehensive probe into the matter.
Instead of cooperating, Moitra and opposition members reportedly became angry and used "objectionable words" while making unethical claims against him.
Moitra countered this by saying that five members from the opposition walked out in protest against the chairman's behaviour and unethical questioning.
"Five members of the committee, which is around fifty per cent, walked out in protest against the chairman's behaviour and unethical questioning. The five members from the opposition protested and told the chairperson that he cannot do this. But the chairperson continued to humiliate me," she said.
Regarding allegations of gifts and NIC logins, Moitra said that her constituency is remote, and an MP's login is accessed by at least ten people during their tenure.
She added, "I come from a remote constituency. I have only availed some secretarial help. Nothing can be done without the OTP that only comes to my phone." She also wondered where the regulations governing the sharing of one's login and password of the portal to merely type out questions, adding that nothing could be submitted without an OTP.
"Where are these rules or protocols about MPs sharing his or her ID and login," she questioned.
Moitra also refuted allegations of receiving undue favours from businessman Darshan Hiranandani, stating that he had been her friend for a long time.
She questioned, "Darshan Hiranandani has been a friend for quite a long time, even before I became an MP. If a friend of mine gifts me a scarf on my birthday, is that a crime?" "The entire BJP party and its MPs can be funded by a particular business group and an old friend of mine can't give me a birthday present? What are we all talking about?" Describing the Ethics Committee probe against her as "political witch-hunting," Moitra asserted that it is an attempt to silence her because she has raised contentious issues.
She criticised the committee for not summoning Darshan Hiranandani and not allowing her to cross-examine him, expressing her belief that he could be summoned before a parliamentary committee as a citizen of the country.
"Why is the ethics committee not summoning Darshan Hiranandani, and not allowing me to cross examine him? He is a citizen of this country, he can be summoned before a parliamentary committee," she said.
When asked whether her party, TMC, is backing her, Moitra responded affirmatively, stating, "Why will my party not back me? They are backing me to the hilt. Just because there was no statement in the beginning doesn't mean they are not supporting me. It is not expected that our party supremo Mamata Banerjee will comment on every issue.