Got scarf, joy rides in Mum & Dubai but asked of night calls: Mahua on her ethics committee hearing

NEW DELHI | Updated: 03 November, 2023 12:05 am IST

NEW DELHI: During an ethics committee hearing concerning the “cash-for-query” scandal, Trinamool Congress Lok Sabha Member of Parliament (MP) Mahua Moitra acknowledged receiving various gifts, including a scarf and chauffeur-driven rides in Mumbai and Dubai on multiple occasions, as well as “some items of make-up” and basic architectural drawings to make her government accommodation vaastu compliant.

She also added that she had shared her Lok Sabha login credentials with business tycoon Darshan Hiranandani since there were no guidelines or regulations governing the sharing of the same.

After staging a walkout, Moitra accused the committee chairperson of infringing her right to privacy by delving into her personal life, particularly asking about who she speaks to at night.

The hearing took place on Thursday, where Moitra made accusations of being subjected to an invasion of her privacy by committee chairperson Vinod Sonkar, the Lok Sabha MP from Kaushambi, Uttar Pradesh.

She conveyed her concerns in a letter to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, describing the line of questioning as “unethical.”

“The Chairman today insisted on following the most sordid line of questioning while reading from a script (no doubt prepared by some interested parties) in which he asked me detailed and extremely personal questions about my private life,” her letter to Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla read, notifying him of the “unethical line of questioning” that had been asked of her. Moitra added that the committee members had also warned Sonkar of the kind of questions that were being asked.

She claimed that of the 11 members, five of them had staged a walkout in protest.

She also admitted to granting business tycoon Darshan Hiranandani access to her Lok Sabha login credentials to provide her with questions but emphasised that providing her OTP was a necessary step each time he logged in. She pointed out that there are no specific rules or regulations governing the sharing of login credentials.

Throughout the hearing, Moitra highlighted that the chairperson had posed questions related to her nighttime contacts and sought details regarding these interactions. She argued that such inquiries breached her fundamental right to privacy.

“Privacy is a fundamental right as per the judgment of the Supreme Court. Humiliating a female MP by asking irrelevant questions — one of these was for example was on who I speak to at night, how many times and asking for those call details — is a breach of my fundamental right to privacy, apart from being in particularly poor taste,” the letter read.

In her letter, Moitra requested protection from the guardian of “all committees” against potential slander stemming from Sonkar’s actions.

After the hearing, the Kaushambi MP accused Moitra of evading questions when speaking to the media.

Previously, allegations had surfaced against Moitra, suggesting that she accepted cash in exchange for sharing Lok Sabha credentials with Hiranandani to obtain incriminating questions targeting business rival Gautam Adani.

ALSO READ: Ethics committee’s Moitra probe marred by Opposition walkout over ‘unethical’



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