Mahua Moitra Case:
In a significant turn of events, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has initiated a preliminary enquiry into the cash-for-query allegations against Trinamool Congress (TMC) Member of Parliament (MP) Mahua Moitra. This development stems from a reference made by Lokpal, the anti-corruption authority responsible for examining complaints against public servants.
The Genesis of Allegations:
The controversy began when Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Nishikant Dubey lodged a complaint with Lokpal, accusing Moitra of accepting bribes to pose targeted questions in the Lok Sabha. Dubey alleged that these questions were aimed at undermining the Adani Group and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, orchestrated by businessman Darshan Hiranandani in exchange for gifts.
CBI Steps In:
Confirming the initiation of the preliminary enquiry, a CBI officer stated, “We have registered a PE to probe the matter referred to us by the Lokpal (against Mahua Moitra).” A preliminary enquiry serves as a precursor, allowing the CBI to decide whether to escalate it into a regular case based on the evidence at hand.
Lok Sabha Ethics Committee’s Verdict:
Earlier this month, the Lok Sabha ethics committee recommended Moitra’s expulsion, citing her sharing of login credentials and passwords as a breach of national security and unethical conduct. The report, adopted with a 6-4 majority, further revealed that Moitra had accepted various forms of gratification from Darshan Hiranandani, and many of her parliamentary questions were geared towards protecting Hiranandani’s business interests.
Moitra’s Defense and Committee Dynamics:
In response to the allegations, Moitra asserted on November 2 that there was insufficient evidence in Hiranandani’s affidavit to substantiate the cash-for-query claims. She accused Jai Anant Dehadrai, a former friend and lawyer, of filing a baseless complaint following the termination of their relationship. The ethics panel’s recommendation for expulsion is expected to be presented during the upcoming winter session of the Lok Sabha.
CBI’s Preliminary Enquiry Details:
The CBI’s preliminary enquiry, being the first step in assessing the merit of the allegations, holds the power to evolve into a full-fledged investigation if supported by prima facie material. The agency, under the constraints of a preliminary enquiry, can seek information, examine documents, and question individuals, but is restricted from conducting searches or making arrests.
Detailed Allegations Against Moitra:
BJP MP Nishikant Dubey’s complaint to Lokpal detailed Moitra’s alleged compromise of national security for financial gains. The Ethics Committee of Lok Sabha is concurrently investigating these allegations. The CBI complaint, filed by Supreme Court lawyer Jai Anant Dehadrai, contends that Moitra accepted bribes from Darshan Hiranandani to pose specific questions in Parliament.
Moitra’s Response to CBI’s Involvement:
Reacting to the CBI’s preliminary probe, Moitra expressed amusement, highlighting the lack of a full-time chairman at Lokpal through a Right to Information query. She questioned the legitimacy of a body without proper leadership referring her case to the CBI.
Expulsion and Political Ramifications:
The Ethics Committee’s recommendation for Moitra’s expulsion will likely fuel ongoing discussions in the Lok Sabha during the winter session. West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee hinted at plans to expel Moitra from Parliament, anticipating potential benefits for the MP in the run-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
As the CBI delves into the cash-for-query allegations against Mahua Moitra, the political landscape is heating up. The Lok Sabha ethics committee’s recommendation for expulsion adds another layer to the unfolding saga. The winter session promises crucial developments, shedding light on the intricate dynamics of this controversy.
In summary, the CBI has registered a preliminary enquiry against TMC MP Mahua Moitra on the directions of Lokpal, further intensifying the scrutiny into the cash-for-query allegations that have gripped the political arena.