The Parliamentary Ethics Committee that is looking into the cash-for-query allegations against Trianmool Congress MP Mahua Moitra, approved the recommendation of her expulsion from parliament. Sources said six members had voted in favour of the recommendation and four had voted against it. The recommendations of the committee will be submitted to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla tomorrow.
The panel had suggested cancelling Ms Moitra’s Lok Sabha membership, finding her actions “highly objectionable, unethical, heinous and criminal”. Among those who voted in its favour is suspended Congress MP Preneet Kaur, strengthening the BJP hand, sources said.
A total of 10 members, including the chairman of the committee attended the meeting. The BJP numbers were down from 7 to 4 today as three of its members were unable to attend.
One MP was missing from the Opposition side too. Uttam Reddy, one of the five MPs who staged a walkout supporting Mahua on November 2, is filing his nomination for the Telangana Assembly elections.
YSR Congress nominee in the committee also did not attend the meeting.
After speaking to all sides, the Committee has concluded that Mahua Moitra had shared user ID with “unauthorised persons”, took cash and amenities from businessman Darshan Hiranandani and it was “serious misdemeanour” on her part which calls for “serious punishment”.
In its report, it recommended that a “legal, intensive, institutional and time-bound investigation” be held into the matter. The BJP’s Nishikant Dubey, who had originally flagged the matter to the Speaker, has said that anti-corruption body Lokpal has ordered a CBI probe into the corruption allegations against Ms Moitra.
The Ethics Committee does not have the powers to pursue a criminal case.
Ms Moitra had walked out of the Ethics Committee meeting held last week, accusing them of asking intrusive personal questions. Ethics panel chief Vinod Kumar Sonkar accused her of non-cooperation.
Ms Moitra’s party, the Trinamool Congress, meanwhile spoke on the issue for the first time today, questioning why she should be expelled when the allegations against her are yet to be proved.
Ms Moitra has admitted to sharing he parliamentary login, but claimed there is no regulation governing this. Ahead of her hearing with the Ethics Committee, she had questioned why these rules “are not shared with MPs”.
Businessman Darshan Hiranandani, who allegedly paid her to ask questions in parliament on his behalf to target Prime Minister Narendra Modi and business rival Adani Group, has admitted to login sharing too in an affidavit.
(Disclaimer: New Delhi Television is a subsidiary of AMG Media Networks Limited, an Adani Group Company.)