ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

'Cash for Queries': What Are the Quid Pro Quo Allegations Against Mahua Moitra?

Here's what we know of the 'cash for queries' row, including the claims, counter-claims, and denials.

Published
Politics
5 min read
story-hero-img
i
Aa
Aa
Small
Aa
Medium
Aa
Large
Hindi Female

The 'cash for query' scandal involving Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Mahua Moitra saw a new twist on Thursday, 19 October, after an affidavit purportedly submitted by businessman Darshan Hiranandani emerged online.

The purported document comes days after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Nishikant Dubey first alleged that Moitra had accepted expensive gifts from Hiranandani in exchange for asking parliamentary questions targeting Prime Minister Modi.

But what exactly has Darshan Hiranandani said in the purported affidavit? How did Mahua Moitra respond? Why did Nishikant Dubey complain against the TMC MP? Who is Jai Dehradai and what does he have to do with all this? Let's break it down.

'Cash for Queries': What Are the Quid Pro Quo Allegations Against Mahua Moitra?

  1. 1. What Did Darshan Hiranandani Say?

    In the purported affidavit, Hiranandani stated that he met Mahua Moitra at the Bengal Global Business Summit in 2017 when she was an MLA from the Karimpur constituency in Nadia district.

    Over the years, she became a "close personal friend" whom Hiranandani wanted to use for growing his business in states ruled by Opposition parties, the purported affidavit read.

    "Moitra was very ambitious and wanted to make a name for herself at the national level. She was advised by her friends and advisors that the shortest possible route to fame is by personally attacking Modi."
    Purported affidavit by Darshan Hiranandani

    "She shared with me [Hiranandani] her email ID as Member of Parliament, so that I could send her information, and she could raise the questions in the Parliament. I went along with her proposal," the purported affidavit claimed.

    Following the impressive response she received after raising the first set of questions, Moitra allegedly shared her Parliament login and password with Hiranandani so that he could post the questions directly on her behalf, when required.

    What were the parliamentary questions about? According to the purported affidavit, Hiranandani posted questions targeting Prime Minister Modi and billionaire businessman Gautam Adani after the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) booked capacity at Adani’s Dhamra LNG import facility in Odisha instead of Hiranandani's planned facility.

    Hiranandani further said that Moitra had made frequent demands, including "expensive luxury items, providing support on renovation of her official allotted bungalow in Delhi, travel expenses, holidays, etc, apart from providing secretarial and logistical help for her travels within India and to different parts of the world," reported PTI.

    "Ms Moitra, in her endeavor, was getting help from other people like Sucheta Dalal, Shardul Shroff and Pallavi Shroff, who were also in touch with her, and who were feeding her with all kinds of unverified information relating to Sh Gautam Adani and his companies," the purported affidavit read.

    However, investigative journalist Sucheta Dalal has denied even knowing Moitra.

    Even Shardul and Pallavi Shroff of law firm Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas have termed the allegations as “baseless” and “malicious”, according to The Indian Express.

    Meanwhile, the Adani Group issued a statement which read, "This development corroborates our statement of 9 Oct 2023 that some groups and individuals have been working overtime to harm our name, goodwill and market standing. In this particular case, the lawyer’s complaint reveals that this arrangement to besmirch the reputation and interests of the Adani Group and our Chairman Gautam Adani has been in place since 2018."

    Expand
  2. 2. What has Mahua Moitra Said?

    Moitra termed the contents of Hiranandani's purported affidavit as a "joke". In a statement shared on X, the TMC MP questioned the legitimacy of the affidavit since it was on "white paper and not an official letterhead or notarised."

    "Why has Darshan not done a press conference and read this out or tweeted it himself or his company put it out? If indeed he has “confessed” to this why is he not releasing it officially rather than through back channel leaks?" Moitra questioned.

    She also pointed out that the Hiranandani Group had denied all allegations in a press release issued on 16 October.

    "Every effort is being made to malign me and isolate and scare those near and dear to me. My closest have been threatened with ED and CBI raids in the next few days," she further said in her long note.

    Moitra added that she was open to answering questions from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Parliament's Ethics Committee.

    Expand
  3. 3. What Has Nishikant Dubey Alleged?

    In his letter to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, BJP MP Nishikant Dubey alleged that Hiranandani had given Moitra Rs two crore, lavish gifts such as an iPhone as well as Rs 75 lakh to contest elections, according to The Week.

    In the letter, Dubey alleged that 50 of the 61 questions that Mahua Moitra had asked in Parliament involved the Adani Group.

    "Moitra's questions in Parliament shockingly seek information, with the intent of protecting or perpetuating business interests of Shri Darshan Hiranandani and his company. The questions were also often focused on the Adani Group, another business conglomerate Hiranandani Group was bidding for business against.”
    BJP MP Nishikant Dubey

    Dubey alleged that Moitra's attacks against PM Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah was to create a "clever facade” over the past few years of her "being against the government."

    He also wrote to Union Minister of Electronics and Information Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw, seeking a probe to determine if Moitra's Lok Sabha account was accessed from any location where she was not present.

    Meanwhile, Union Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar said that if the allegations against Moitra are true, it is "shocking and shameful."

    "I hv learnt from news reports that this Parliamentary Question was likely asked by a MP at the behest of a Data center company," Chandrasekhar said.

    However, Moitra argued that her questions were "valid" as she was a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Communications and Information Technology as well as the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Data Protection.

    Expand
  4. 4. Who Is Jai Anant Dehradai?

    Dubey reportedly said that he was levelling these allegations on the basis of documents given to him by advocate Jai Anant Dehadrai, who allegedly “shared irrefutable evidence of bribes exchanged” between Moitra and Hiranandani.

    Moitra and Dehadrai were close friends but the friendship reportedly took a bitter turn. Dehadrai allegedly "resorted to sending vile, threatening, vulgar messages to [Moitra] and also trespassed into her official residence and stole some personal possessions of hers, including her pet dog – Henry," according to The Hindu.

    "Jai Dehradai is not some Supreme Court lawyer who has done painstaking research on me. He is a jilted ex with an acrimonious personal history with me who wanted to somehow get back at me," Moitra was quoted as saying.

    The TMC MP has filed a defamation case against Dubey and Dehradai, accusing them of attacking her reputation and goodwill to "extract a personal and political vendetta."

    She further claimed that her morphed, private pictures had been leaked, causing tremendous harm to her reputation and mental well-being.

    The Trinamool Congress (TMC), however, has decided against commenting on the allegations that have been levelled against Moitra, Hindustan Times reported.
    Expand
  5. 5. What Next?

    The Lok Sabha speaker has sent Dubey's complaints against Moitra to the Ethics Committee of the Lok Sabha, which is chaired by BJP MP Vinod Kumar Sonkar.

    Dubey and Dehadrai have reportedly been asked to appear before the Ethics Committee on 26 October.

    (At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

    Expand

What Did Darshan Hiranandani Say?

In the purported affidavit, Hiranandani stated that he met Mahua Moitra at the Bengal Global Business Summit in 2017 when she was an MLA from the Karimpur constituency in Nadia district.

Over the years, she became a "close personal friend" whom Hiranandani wanted to use for growing his business in states ruled by Opposition parties, the purported affidavit read.

"Moitra was very ambitious and wanted to make a name for herself at the national level. She was advised by her friends and advisors that the shortest possible route to fame is by personally attacking Modi."
Purported affidavit by Darshan Hiranandani

"She shared with me [Hiranandani] her email ID as Member of Parliament, so that I could send her information, and she could raise the questions in the Parliament. I went along with her proposal," the purported affidavit claimed.

Following the impressive response she received after raising the first set of questions, Moitra allegedly shared her Parliament login and password with Hiranandani so that he could post the questions directly on her behalf, when required.

What were the parliamentary questions about? According to the purported affidavit, Hiranandani posted questions targeting Prime Minister Modi and billionaire businessman Gautam Adani after the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) booked capacity at Adani’s Dhamra LNG import facility in Odisha instead of Hiranandani's planned facility.

Hiranandani further said that Moitra had made frequent demands, including "expensive luxury items, providing support on renovation of her official allotted bungalow in Delhi, travel expenses, holidays, etc, apart from providing secretarial and logistical help for her travels within India and to different parts of the world," reported PTI.

"Ms Moitra, in her endeavor, was getting help from other people like Sucheta Dalal, Shardul Shroff and Pallavi Shroff, who were also in touch with her, and who were feeding her with all kinds of unverified information relating to Sh Gautam Adani and his companies," the purported affidavit read.

However, investigative journalist Sucheta Dalal has denied even knowing Moitra.

Even Shardul and Pallavi Shroff of law firm Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas have termed the allegations as “baseless” and “malicious”, according to The Indian Express.

Meanwhile, the Adani Group issued a statement which read, "This development corroborates our statement of 9 Oct 2023 that some groups and individuals have been working overtime to harm our name, goodwill and market standing. In this particular case, the lawyer’s complaint reveals that this arrangement to besmirch the reputation and interests of the Adani Group and our Chairman Gautam Adani has been in place since 2018."

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

What has Mahua Moitra Said?

Moitra termed the contents of Hiranandani's purported affidavit as a "joke". In a statement shared on X, the TMC MP questioned the legitimacy of the affidavit since it was on "white paper and not an official letterhead or notarised."

"Why has Darshan not done a press conference and read this out or tweeted it himself or his company put it out? If indeed he has “confessed” to this why is he not releasing it officially rather than through back channel leaks?" Moitra questioned.

She also pointed out that the Hiranandani Group had denied all allegations in a press release issued on 16 October.

"Every effort is being made to malign me and isolate and scare those near and dear to me. My closest have been threatened with ED and CBI raids in the next few days," she further said in her long note.

Moitra added that she was open to answering questions from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Parliament's Ethics Committee.

0

What Has Nishikant Dubey Alleged?

In his letter to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, BJP MP Nishikant Dubey alleged that Hiranandani had given Moitra Rs two crore, lavish gifts such as an iPhone as well as Rs 75 lakh to contest elections, according to The Week.

In the letter, Dubey alleged that 50 of the 61 questions that Mahua Moitra had asked in Parliament involved the Adani Group.

"Moitra's questions in Parliament shockingly seek information, with the intent of protecting or perpetuating business interests of Shri Darshan Hiranandani and his company. The questions were also often focused on the Adani Group, another business conglomerate Hiranandani Group was bidding for business against.”
BJP MP Nishikant Dubey

Dubey alleged that Moitra's attacks against PM Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah was to create a "clever facade” over the past few years of her "being against the government."

He also wrote to Union Minister of Electronics and Information Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw, seeking a probe to determine if Moitra's Lok Sabha account was accessed from any location where she was not present.

Meanwhile, Union Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar said that if the allegations against Moitra are true, it is "shocking and shameful."

"I hv learnt from news reports that this Parliamentary Question was likely asked by a MP at the behest of a Data center company," Chandrasekhar said.

However, Moitra argued that her questions were "valid" as she was a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Communications and Information Technology as well as the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Data Protection.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Who Is Jai Anant Dehradai?

Dubey reportedly said that he was levelling these allegations on the basis of documents given to him by advocate Jai Anant Dehadrai, who allegedly “shared irrefutable evidence of bribes exchanged” between Moitra and Hiranandani.

Moitra and Dehadrai were close friends but the friendship reportedly took a bitter turn. Dehadrai allegedly "resorted to sending vile, threatening, vulgar messages to [Moitra] and also trespassed into her official residence and stole some personal possessions of hers, including her pet dog – Henry," according to The Hindu.

"Jai Dehradai is not some Supreme Court lawyer who has done painstaking research on me. He is a jilted ex with an acrimonious personal history with me who wanted to somehow get back at me," Moitra was quoted as saying.

The TMC MP has filed a defamation case against Dubey and Dehradai, accusing them of attacking her reputation and goodwill to "extract a personal and political vendetta."

She further claimed that her morphed, private pictures had been leaked, causing tremendous harm to her reputation and mental well-being.

The Trinamool Congress (TMC), however, has decided against commenting on the allegations that have been levelled against Moitra, Hindustan Times reported.
ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

What Next?

The Lok Sabha speaker has sent Dubey's complaints against Moitra to the Ethics Committee of the Lok Sabha, which is chaired by BJP MP Vinod Kumar Sonkar.

Dubey and Dehadrai have reportedly been asked to appear before the Ethics Committee on 26 October.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Read Latest News and Breaking News at The Quint, browse for more from news and politics

Topics:  Parliament   Trinamool Congress   Scandal 

Speaking truth to power requires allies like you.
Become a Member
3 months
12 months
12 months
Check Member Benefits
Read More
×
×