Subjected to humiliating questions at Lok Sabha ethics panel hearing: Mahua Moitra

Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra has said that she was subjected to humiliating questions at the Lok Sabha Ethics Committee's hearing on "cash-for-query" allegations against her and thanked Opposition MPs who staged a walkout in protest.
Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra
Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra

New Delhi |Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra has said that she was subjected to humiliating questions at the Lok Sabha Ethics Committee's hearing on "cash-for-query" allegations against her and thanked Opposition MPs who staged a walkout in protest.

In an interview with PTI, Moitra on Thursday said she was asked irrelevant details about her personal life and that she registered her protest and submitted that she would reply to any relevant question through an affidavit.

Though the rules say one should not talk about what happens in a committee meeting, she was doing so as she was subjected to a "proverbial vastraharan", the MP added.

"You had five members of the committee (out of 11 present) who walked out in protest against the chairman's behaviour. It was anything but an Ethics Committee, it was the most unethical hearing possible. While the chairman came with a pre-written script from which he was reading out, which contained the most disgusting, invasive, private details about my personal life, which had nothing to do with the hearing whatsoever," she alleged.

Moitra has been accused of asking questions, which were keyed in through her parliamentary account, at the behest of businessman Darshan Hiranandani. It was also alleged that she shared her login credentials with the Dubai-based businessman. The complaint against Moitra was filed by BJP MP Nishikant Dubey.

After the ethics panel meeting, its chairperson and BJP MP Vinod Kumar Sonkar said the committee had been tasked with conducting a comprehensive probe into the matter and that instead of cooperating, Moitra turned angry along with opposition members and they used "objectionable words" and made unethical claims against him.

Moitra said she was not asked any relevant questions about the NIC logins or the gifts she is supposed to have received from the businessman.

"The two issues which were to be decided was the issue of the NIC login portal, I was not even given a copy of the NIC report. I have already said my NIC login...questions were done by my friend's office, I have already said that there were no rules governing it, and every MP shares it with at least 10 people in the course of their tenure. So that was the issue to be decided...," she said.

"The first complainant had said about cash and gifts. There is no mention of cash anywhere, nor was it brought up in the query, so there is no cash," she while detailing the gifts and help she had received from her businessman friend.

She said she was instead asked for personal details, which led to a protest by the opposition MPs.

"The chairperson insisted on asking the most cheap sordid questions about my personal life including 'Who do you talk to at night, how many times, can you give me those call details'. 'Have you been to a hotel with X...have you stayed there'. 'In last five years where all have you been'.... Then he says 'You call so and so a dear friend, does his wife know about this'.... What is going on? He was warned repeatedly," she said.

Moitra said only the chairperson was questioning and BJP members in the committee were "fine" but they didn't say anything.

"Five members from the opposition protested vigorously and said (to the chairperson) 'you can't do this'. This is nonsense...the chairperson cannot humiliate a person. He said 'No I can do what I like', and it continued. I said many times I may be a witness, but I'm a citizen of India, which guarantees my privacy," she said.

Moitra claimed the chairperson was reading out from a list.

"It's so silly... It was absolutely ridiculous," she said.

"Ultimately I don't have to stand there to be humiliated as a woman.... I will not stand there and be subjected to this 'cheerharan' by some chairperson under his party whip," she said.

The TMC MP also thanked other opposition MPs who walked out of the meeting over the nature of the questions being asked.

"All opposition members said 'we will not be a part of this vastraharan', they staged a walkout... I have written to the Lok Sabha Speaker saying I will give my affidavit on any question relevant to the enquiry," she said.

She said it was possibly the first time that MPs spoke to the media after walking out of a committee meeting.

"This is the first time all five MPs said this is nonsense, expel us if you must but we have to say what was wrong... This is the first time I am speaking. This kind of sickening misogyny which they are subjecting...the unethical behaviour in name of Ethics Committee is a farce," she said.

"I have written to the Speaker, let's see what the next step is. There is no way I am going to be subjected to this kind of public vastraharan," she added.

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