‘Lash for query’, Sonia’s ‘rare show of solidarity’: Front pages on Mahua’s expulsion

The Lok Sabha expelled TMC MP Mahua Moitra yesterday.

WrittenBy:NL Team
Moitra after her expulsion yesterday.

After the Lok Sabha on Friday expelled Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra, it was front-page news across leading newspapers this morning.

Moitra has been accused of misusing her credentials, accepting gifts, and of favours for businessman Darshan Hiranandani, a competitor of industrialist Gautam Adani. The motion for her expulsion was introduced in the House based on an ethics committee’s findings.

TMC chief Mamata Banerjee called it a “murder of democracy”.

The Hindu quoted Moitra as describing the process as a “hanging by a kangaroo court”. The report noted that she was “not allowed to speak in the House” and that opposition members had asked why the ethics panel “didn’t examine Mr Hiranandanior or allow Ms Moitra to cross-examine him”.

The panel is headed by BJP MP Vinod Kumar Sonkar.

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The Indian Express also had Moitra as its top story on page 1 with the headline “Lok Sabha expels Mahua Moitra amid Opp objection and walkout”.

“Following a heated debate in which Moitra was not allowed to speak, the Opposition walked out even before the motion for her expulsion was taken up for voting – it was passed by a voice vote.” 

A short report on the front page said despite the “recent churn and strain” with the INDIA bloc, the Congress and other constituents “rallied behind” Moitra. When she stood on the steps of Parliament to speak to the media, Sonia Gandhi and other MPs stood behind her “listening in rapt attention”.

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Hindustan Times in Delhi described Moitra as a “first-time member who rose to prominence with her combative speeches”. Yesterday’s events were the “first time in nearly two decades that a member has been removed from Parliament on similar allegations”.

A smaller report on page 1 said Sonia Gandhi “stood with Moitra in a rare show of solidarity with a non-Congress leader”.

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The Times of India’s front-page story was headlined “Mahua expelled from LS, says ‘hanged by kangaroo court’”. 

It quoted Moitra as telling the media: “This report has broken every rule in the book. In essence, you are finding me guilty of breaking a code of ethics that does not exist. The committee is punishing me for engaging in a practice that is routine, accepted and encouraged in the House.”

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The Chennai edition of The New Indian Express said Moitra’s expulsion put “an end to the ‘cash-for-query’ row that stretched over two months”.

“While TMC leaders Kalyan Banerjee and Sudip Bandyopadhyay urged the Speaker to allow Moitra to defend herself on the floor, the latter refused to budge citing a precedent,” the report said. 

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The Telegraph in Kolkata splashed “Lash for query” on its front page, pointing out that Moitra was an MP who “wouldn’t stop raising questions on the astonishing expansion of the Adani empire in the Narendra Modi years”.

Moitra “had just taken the blow of the sword widely expected to fall on her; she was flushed with fury as she raged against the Modi establishment”, the newspaper reported. 

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At the core of Moitra’s expulsion is the 495-page ethics committee report, which listed out past precedents, questions Moitra asked in Parliament, and her evidence. On Moitra purportedly taking “cash” from Hiranandani, the committee said it does not have the “technical wherewithal and expertise to criminally investigate and unearth the money trail, which is invariably the task of central government institutions”. Read all about it here

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