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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 23 April 2024
I speak truth to power, will continue this fight: MP on cash-for-query controversy

Not giving in to bullies, they have picked the wrong person: Mahua Moitra

I speak truth to power and truth doesn’t need back-up forces.... I will continue this fight: TMC MP to The Telegraph

Devadeep Purohit Calcutta Published 23.10.23, 04:56 AM
TMC MP Mahua Moitra

TMC MP Mahua Moitra File Photo

Trinamul MP Mahua Moitra said on Sunday that she would continue to fight and speak truth to power, in a statement aimed at sending out the message that the cash-for-query controversy has not affected the investment banker-turned-politician.

“I speak truth to power and truth doesn’t need back-up forces.... I will continue this fight,” Moitra told The Telegraph when asked whether she had the backing of her party in her battle.

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The Krishnagar MP has been accused of passing on her House email login ID to a businessman friend so he could raise parliamentary questions on her behalf. While the charges against her are being probed by the Ethics Committee of Parliament, a perception has grown — both in Trinamul and beyond — that her party is distancing itself from the controversy.

Trinamul’s leader in the Rajya Sabha, Derek O’Brien, said on Sunday that the party had taken note of media reports on the matter and Moitra had been advised to clarify her position.

“Because this has to do with an elected member (of the Lok Sabha), her rights, her privileges, let this be probed by the right forum of Parliament. After that, the leadership will take the appropriate decision on the matter,” O’Brien said,
making it clear that Trinamul was in no hurry — unlike the Congress — to lend its weight behind Moitra.

Although Moitra did not want to directly comment on the issue initially, she said later that she “welcomed” those who were with her and was “unconcerned” about those who were not. She asserted her obedience to the party and said: “I am a strong soldier of the Trinamul Congress.... And I believe that I stand up for its ideology every day of my life in fighting the Fascist forces.”

A source close to her said she was in touch with the party’s top brass and was acting according to their advice. This claim, however, could not be independently verified.

In her first detailed reaction since the controversy broke out, Moitra told this newspaper that the main objective was to ensure her suspension from Parliament.

“This is a badly set up hit job to try and kick me out of Parliament for the next six months.... I rebuffed Adani’s ‘cash-to-not-question’ offer. Hence this elaborate smear campaign and fake cash-for-question allegation,” Moitra
said.

Though some political observers and a section in Trinamul think that the cash-for-query controversy is likely to cast a shadow on her political career, Moitra said she would not “give in to these bullies”.

“I am not giving in to these bullies.... They have picked the wrong person,” said Moitra, who is spending the festive season in Bengal.

Though the last week or so had been the most difficult for Moitra in her 15-year political career, she has remained defiant and put up a brave face even as the saffron ecosystem went after her. A source in Nadia said she inaugurated at least 30 community puja pandals in Tehatta, Betai, Natna and Nakashipara and also launched an LED screen at a stadium in Tehatta, besides interacting with ordinary citizens.

While Moitra, an active social media user, kept posting Durga Puja celebration pictures on her X account, she also fired salvos at her sworn enemies.

“Also got message about impending CBI raid. I am busy with Durga Puja. I invite CBI to come home & count my pairs of shoes. But first please file FiR into Rs 13,000 crore coal money Adani stole from Indians,” she posted on X on Saturday.

The two other posts she made on Saturday were also aimed at the Adani group, which bore hints that she would continue attacking the conglomerate.

While speaking to this newspaper, she tried to give her side of the story on the key issue of sharing her House log-in ID and password. “As a member of Parliament, I am allowed to use all means to seek information to ask questions and utilise any information given to me, via any means, to ask any question,” she said.

“I challenge anyone to prove one rupee of cash has ever exchanged hands,” she added.

While Moitra vowed to fight the BJP and the Adani group, the party found a new way to attack her by accusing chief minister Mamata Banerjee of having abandoned Moitra.

“It is not surprising that Mamata Banerjee has abandoned Mahua Moitra. She will defend no one else but Abhishek Banerjee, who is no less delinquent,” BJP IT cell chief Amit Malviya wrote on X on Saturday night.

“Several TMC leaders are in jail on serious corruption and criminal charges but Mamata Banerjee has maintained radio silence,” added Malviya, also the party’s co-minder for Bengal.

Moitra, however, got support from senior minister and Calcutta mayor Firhad Hakim.

“Mahua is probably a victim of conspiracy… quite possibly because she is very vocal,” said Hakim.

“As far as I am concerned, I think all this is being done to silence her. This is a conspiracy…. She has been issuing statements of clarity and has promised to face any probe,” he added.

He said Moitra was being targeted because she not only was a staunch critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the saffron ecosystem but also the BJP-led Centre’s ties with the likes of Adani.

“Who gave Modi the aircraft, the helicopters for his first (prime ministerial) campaign (ahead of 2014)? Why are BJP MPs so enthusiastic about saving Adani?” asked Hakim.

“Dal mein kuchh kala hay,” he added. “Anyway, she is very capable of emerging from this.”

Additional reporting by Meghdeep Bhattacharyya and Subhasish Chaudhuri

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