Contemporary Riddles

Mahua Moitra

There are certain events at the moment that completely befuddle my wits.Have I gone nuts or people around me?

I do not know Mahua Moitra nor is there the remotest chance that our paths might ever cross.But facts relating to current allegations against her arouse my misgivings and utter confusion. And that is because of her undoubtedly stout performance as an MP and the pressure on her building to undo its undoubted impact.She usually presents her case against the present government and now the Adani empire with solid factual evidence and impeccable logic.And leaders of the ruling party usually try to needle her with fatuous and often vulgar retorts.Finding her a formidable and popular critic of the government’s policies and decisions they seem to have hit on an oblique and rather unfair ad hominem argument to silence her.Apparently of grave import it turns out on examination to be standing on shaky ground.

There has been a lively exchange of barbed remarks between her and a BJP MP,whom she has accused of malfeasance of some sort.He has returned the compliment with the claim that in exchange for unsettling questions against the Adani empire she has received payments.The information had come from an ex partner who is embroiled in a quarrel with her regarding possession of a pet dog!Now evidence regarding the truth of such allegations had come from businessman Hiranandani himself who has said in an affidavit that Ms Moitra had received and had extorted from him expensive presents in exchange for the questions. Widening the area of suspicion certain BJP circles are now asking the Congress leaders if their criticism of the Adani empire is also a form of extortion!! But are the words of the businessman to be accepted as clinching evidence of the wrongdoing? They also allege that Ms Moitra had allowed Hiranandani to access the website of Parliament by sharing her password and thus put nation’s security at grave risk.

Hiranandani’s volte face reveals that his intentions and good faith are under a cloud.If he is supplying the questions or setting them up to target Adani he has some selfish personal gain as his objective rather than the good of the nation.Secondly, he has deliberately compromised his own integrity and the worth of his reputation or the gravamen of the charges he was building up through Ms Moitra by performing this somersault.He also appears to be scoring a self-goal by proving himself to be an unreliable and shady character if the press reports about his supplying the questions about Adani and the affidavit both turn out to be correct.Why should the Parliament choose to accept as true the version of the incident by such a self-described slippery witness? But if his affidavit had been prepared to save his own skin,as is not unlikely,it would not carry much weight as evidence of Ms Moitra’s guilt.An MP can garner facts from any source and as for payment for them Hiranandani’s word is hardly evidence to nail Ms Moitra by itself.

If Ms Moitra had indeed allowed Hiranandani open access to Parliament’s website and files it is certainly a grave error of judgment for which she deserves a stern rebuke.To what extent it compromised national security is subject to examination by experts.To the ruling party anything that offends its own sense of unimpeachable authority and legitimacy today is suspected to injure national security.That need not colour everybody’s perception.

But the most pertinent and vital point in the debate is that the facts that have come to light about the source of such questions about the Adani empire do not by themselves disprove them or make them frivolous.If these appear relevant and substantial the Parliament is bound to order an enquiry about them,whatever happens to Hiranandani.

Hiren Gohain is a political commentator

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