‘Vastraharan’ At Ethics Panel Meeting: Mahua Moitra Complains To Lok Sabha Speaker

New Delhi: Having stormed out of the Lok Sabha Ethics Committee meeting on Thursday afternoon, Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Mahua Moitra wrote to Speaker Om Birla alleging that she was subjected to the proverbial “vastraharan” by the panel chairman in the presence of all members.

Mahua, who was summoned for a hearing on the cash-for-query allegations against her, also alleged “unethical, sordid, demeaning and prejudiced behaviour meted out” to her during the meeting.

Moitra and Opposition members of the 15-strong Lok Sabha Ethics Committee had walked out of the hearing, accusing the panel’s chairperson Vinod Kumar Sonkar of asking her “indecent personal” questions.

Mahua pleaded innocence to bribery allegations and said Sonkar’s questions were “filthy” after her walkout.

In her letter to Birla, Mahua alleged that Sonkar didn’t ask questions pertinent to the matter, and showed a preconceived bias in a malicious and defamatory way.

“I write to you in great anguish today to update you on the unethical, sordid and prejudiced behaviour meted out to me at the hearing of the Ethics Committee by the Chairman. I have been subjected to the proverbial ‘vastraharan’ by him in the presence of all members of the Committee,” Moitra stated in an extremely strongly-worded letter.

“The committee ought to designate itself under a name other than the Ethics committee as it has no ethics and morality left. Instead of asking questions pertinent to the subject, the Chairman exhibited a preconceived bias by maliciously and clearly in a defamatory way questioning me, so much so that 5 of the 11 members present walked out and boycotted the proceedings in protest at his shameful conduct,” alleged the TMC MP who is known for being a firebrand.

Mahua requested the Lok Sabha Secretariat to disclose regulations governing sharing of one’s login and password of the portal to merely type out questions, adding that nothing could be submitted without an OTP.

“Why were these rules never given to MPs and if they were, why is every single MP sharing this ID and login with numerous people?” she said.

“I repeatedly protested on record that while the Chairman was welcome to ask me any question relevant to the enquiry, namely on the login and on those allegations of gifts for which evidence, or rather complete lack of it, existed he could not ask me detailed personal questions making insinuations about my dignity as a woman,” she added.

“After more than 2 hours of this sort of questioning, which seemed to get worse with each question, 5 of the Committee members said they would not be party to this ‘Cheerharan (Disrobing of a woman)’ and boycotted the proceedings and walked out. I too placed on record that while I respect the proceedings of the Committee, it was against my personal dignity and rights to be subjected to this filthy line of questioning by the Chairman who seemed to get vicarious enjoyment from his words, and excused myself from the proceedings,” the TMC leader alleged.

“At the very onset I would like to state that the complainant has provided NO evidence of any cash, the alleged ‘bribe-giver’ Mr Hiranandani has made NO mention of any cash in his suo-moto affidavit. In respect of gifts I have already stated on record publicly and in the Committee that Mr Hiranandani is a close friend from before I became an MP. The sum total of all gifts I have received from him are – 1. One Scarf 2. Some items of make-up 3. Use of car and driver when I have visited Bombay on maybe 4-5 occasions in the past 5 years and maybe twice in Dubai and 4. A set of very basic architectural drawings/advice on making my government accommodation vastu compliant which were then executed by the engineers and contractors of the CPWD (a government unit) with no payment made by Mr. Hiranandani or indeed anyone else apart from the CPWD,” Mahua said.

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