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regular-article-logo Sunday, 21 April 2024

‘No comment’: Trinamul Congress unwilling to throw its weight behind Mahua Moitra

The party does not have anything to say on Mahua. The Trinamul Congress will not issue any reaction on the matter: Kunal Ghosh

Meghdeep Bhattacharyya Calcutta Published 21.10.23, 04:56 AM
Sources say party chief Mamata Banerjee and her nephew Abhishek were unwilling to make any effort .to bail Moitra out politically right away

Sources say party chief Mamata Banerjee and her nephew Abhishek were unwilling to make any effort .to bail Moitra out politically right away File Photo

The Trinamul Congress on Friday ended its conspicuous public silence on the controversy around Mahua Moitra with a brief “no comment”, making clear the party’s unwillingness to throw its weight behind the Krishnagar MP, at least for now.

“The party does not have anything to say on Mahua. The Trinamul Congress will not issue any reaction on the matter,” said the party’s state general secretary Kunal Ghosh, known for his proximity to party national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee.

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Sources said party chief Mamata Banerjee and her nephew Abhishek were unwilling to make any effort to bail Moitra out politically right away. “Our supreme leadership has decided there should be no substantial involvement of the party in this for now. If something more, or different, needs to be said, it will come from the top two,” a Trinamul source said.

The Trinamul source added: “The leadership has been far from thrilled with Mahua’s propensity to self-promote and build herself up as a brand in and outside Parliament — on some occasions, by exceeding her brief.”

A senior party colleague said Moitra had developed a reputation for ignoring advice from the very top, and even for disregarding direct orders, and that she had caused a number of problems in Nadia — where her Lok Sabha constituency is situated — and elsewhere with her “uncalled for belligerence”.

“She will probably have to fight this particular battle largely alone,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Moitra had posted a defiant statement on X.

“I welcome answering questions to CBI & Ethics Committee (which has absolute majority of BJP members) if & when they call me. I have neither time nor interest to feed a Adani-directed media circus trial or answer BJP trolls,” she wrote.

“I am enjoying Durga Puja in Nadia. Shubho Sashthi,” she added.

On Friday morning, Moitra left her rented home in Karimpur to visit Tehatta town, an Assembly segment under her parliamentary constituency.

She first met party workers in Tehatta and later, accompanied by local Trinamul MLA Tapas Saha, inaugurated five community Durga Pujas there and in adjacent Betai and Natna.

Around 2.30pm she returned to Karimpur where she inaugurated several community Pujas in the evening and interacted with people, particularly women.

Through the day, Moitra was active on social media. She wrote posts demanding an answer how the chairperson of Parliament’s Ethics Committee could speak to the media on the controversy.

“Chairman Ethics Committee openly speaks to media. Please see Lok Sabha rules below. How does ‘affidavit’ find its way to media? Chairman should first do enquiry into how this was leaked. I repeat - BJP 1 point agenda is to expel me from LS to shut me up on Adani,” she posted on X.

Along with her post, she tweeted an image of Clause 275 from the Rules of Procedure of the Lok Sabha, which states that “no part of the evidence, oral or written, report or proceedings” of the committee can be shared with anyone unless tabled.

Ethics Committee chairperson Vinod Kumar Sonkar had told reporters that the panel had not received any affidavit from businessman Darshan Hiranandani alleging Moitra had sought favours from him in lieu of asking questions in Parliament against the Adani group.

For now, the Ethics Committee will proceed as scheduled by hearing oral evidence in the case from BJP Lok Sabha member Nishikant Dubey and lawyer Jai Anant Dehadrai on October 26.

Amid the silence from her party, Moitra found support from two major INDIA constituents in Bengal, the Congress and the CPM.

The Congress’s leader in the Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, said the central government was displeased with Moitra only because the name of a particular industrialist was involved.

“When Rahul Gandhi raised questions about that industrialist, they took action against him,” Adhir said.

“We go to Parliament as the people’s representatives, and we raise the people’s questions there,” Adhir said.

“If the Centre has an answer, it responds. Otherwise, it does not. I don’t think I have seen such promptness in getting the Ethics Committee to start probing a matter such as this.”

Adhir added: “I do not exactly know what happened. But, generally speaking, every MP has the right to speak in Parliament. This ruling party (the BJP) wants to silence people inside and outside Parliament…. If anybody speaks against that particular industrialist, this government gets rattled. That should also be probed.”

The CPM did not directly support Moitra but criticised the BJP.

“The same playbook. Trinamul does not want to let the Opposition speak in Bengal. The BJP acts the same way at the Centre,” CPM central committee member Sujan Chakraborty said.

The BJP continued to attack Moitra.

“On my way back from Nadia now, saw how people of the district and Krishnanagar are shocked by Ms Mahua Moitra’s ‘Cash for Query’ scandal,” BJP national executive member Anirban Ganguly posted on X.

Additional reporting by Anita Joshua

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