Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Mahua in a mess


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Trinamool Congress member Mahua Moitra is in a soup. She is alleged to have accepted money from a businessman to ask questions in Parliament against the Adani group. While the accusation was made by her ex-lover, a Supreme Court advocate, arguments are also that she did so as part of an overdrive to gain media publicity for herself. The Parliament’s ethics panel is currently taking evidence. What has come to her embarrassment is the contention that she shared her email ID details with the businessman and sets of questions came to her via this channel. The money trail too would be investigated.
Prima facie, accepting money from private entities, to ask questions in Parliament, amounts to corruption. Parliament’s “sanctity” could be called into question. All these contentions are at the ideal level. The reality is that there is nothing new to this practice. Perhaps such a practice existed all along. Several MPs have, for long, been accepting gratifications from business entities in the form of free air tickets and money by way of “PR.” Let us not turn away from the truth. The allegation against Mahua Moitra could only be the tip of the iceberg. She ended up in trouble on two counts; one, her former confidant-turned foe raised the allegation; two, email evidence is cited. For an investigating agency, it is easy to get at the truth. Asking questions in Parliament is the privilege of the members. The government is duty-bound to reply. Information not easily available for the public to get from a government will come in as answers in official format. Asking a question based on information given by a businessman is not wrong, per se. Members would be glad to take and raise questions in Parliament, get vital information and take the credit thereof. Many questions may have such underpinnings. But the link with “acceptance of money” from the businessman complicates the present case. If this is proven, suitable punishment would follow. However, there is no guarantee that this practice would stop. Members would rather be more circumspect and extra careful not to leave any trials in future. Taking money from vested interests is how politics in this country is oiled. A part of such money may go to the party and a larger part to politicians’ pockets.
MPs are well-paid and well-serviced with a lot of amenities and allowances in multiple forms. Yet, their greed for more is spectacular. Cleansing the system must start from the top. However, both Narendra Modi and Manmohan Singh as also their predecessors jelled well with the Corruption Raj. For their own benefit. They were facilitators for the drift. The people, a silent lot, are at the receiving end of such system ruptures.


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