New Delhi:

Businessman Darshan Hiranandani, in an explosive affidavit today, claimed Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra had given him her parliament login ID to frame questions on the Adani group, which she felt was the “only way” to target Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In the three-page affidavit, a copy of which is with NDTV, Mr Hiranandani confessed to a few points that are among the BJP allegations against Ms Moitra. But it does not mention the main charge against her — that she asked over 50 parliamentary questions on behalf of the Hiranandani Group to get the better of its business rival, the Adani Group.

The affidavit indicates the case was rather the opposite — that she asked for help to politically target PM Modi and use the Adani group for a smear campaign against him.

Ms Moitra, in a two-page statement and five questions, shredded the affidavit of Mr Hiranandani, alleging that the Prime Minister’s Office “held a proverbial gun” to his head and made him sign the white paper that was later “leaked to the press.

Mr Hiranandani’s claim is still a setback for Ms Moitra, whom the BJP wants suspended from parliament. The allegation that she handed Mr Hiranandani her parliament login ID, if proved, could comprise a breach of privilege that could bring a suspension order against her.

Caught in the “cash-for-questions” controversy swirling around Ms Moitra, Mr Hiranandani said he was filing the affidavit since the matter involves him and has snowballed into a political controversy roping in the Parliamentary Privilege Committee and the judiciary.

Mahua Moitra thought the only way to attack PM Modi was by attacking Gautam Adani, and so she “expected support”, the affidavit read. For this, she shared her parliament login ID so he could frame the questions, Mr Hiranandani said. He went along with the idea because he thought through her, he would get support in the Opposition-ruled states.

He also claimed that Ms Moitra received support from others in this effort, including journalists, Opposition leaders and former Adani Group employees, who fed her unverified information. In this context, he named Sucheta Dalal — who has denied the allegations in a post on X — and a few others.

Mr Hiranandani also claimed the Trinamool MP was also was a “dominating” and “ambitious” person who also made a number of demands for “various favours” which he met to retain her support and their close friendship. The list included gifting her expensive luxury items, “providing support for renovation of her officially allotted bungalow in Delhi, travel expenses, holidays etc,” he wrote.

“I could ill afford to displease her,” the affidavit read. “Many a time I felt she was taking undue advantage of me and pressurising me to do things I didn’t want to, but I had no choice, because of aforementioned reasons,” he added.

Last week, the BJP’s Nishikant Dubey demanded immediate suspension of Ms Moitra, alleging that she “took bribes to ask questions” in parliament from Darshan Hiranandani to target his business rival, the Adani group, and PM Modi. Mr Dubey wrote to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, accusing Ms Moitra of breach of parliamentary privilege, contempt of House and criminal conspiracy.

The Hiranandani Group had lost energy and infra contract to the Adani Group and Ms Moitra’s questions were directed at perpetuating the business interests of the former, Mr Dubey alleged in his letter to Mr Birla.

His complaint has been referred by the Speaker to parliament’s Ethics Committee.

The next day, junior Union minister for Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar weighed in on the controversy and indicating Mr Hiranandani’s involvement.

“It is true that this company was actively and aggressively lobbying for Data Localization. Language used in PQ is very similar (linking need for data localization to data breaches) to that used whn the head of this company met me. I am not aware or privy to the full facts or background on this – but if it is true then its a terrible travesty and misuse of PQs,” he posted on Twitter.

While Ms Moitra has been quick to target the BJP leaders on X, formerly Twitter, over their allegations, she is yet to respond regarding Mr Hiranandani’s affidavit.

Regarding Mr Dubey’s letter to the Speaker, Ms Moitra had said she welcomes any kind of inquiry. She had also posted a strong denial of the IT minister’s allegations. “Sir, am member of IT Comm & JPC on Data Protection. This is valid question for all Indians. If hostile nation can steal data from apps – can’t they steal India user data stored overseas? Don’t insult my intelligence by alleging I’m fronting others. Something Ruia bag men do,” she had posted on X.

(Disclaimer: New Delhi Television is a subsidiary of AMG Media Networks Limited, an Adani Group Company.)

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