Mahua Moitra
Mahua Moitra, the Trinamool Congress MP, was expelled from Indian parliament following accusations of taking bribes in exchange for asking questions, charges she denies. Image Credit: Supplied

Mahua Moitra is not a typical Indian parliamentarian. She’s smart, sharp and doesn’t pull her punches. A fierce critic of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP was expelled from parliament following accusations of taking bribes in exchange for asking questions — charges Moitra denies vehemently.

In an exclusive interview with Gulf News, Moitra, a former investment banker with US multinational services firm JP Morgan Chase, talks about the events that led to her expulsion from the parliament, her former partner Jai Anant Dehadrai and a rottweiler named Henry, whom she calls her “child”.

As an educated professional who typically shuns politics, what made you return to India [from London] and join politics?

That’s exactly why. We can’t keep complaining about the nature of politics in India and then want to keep ourselves and our families away from it. It is our problem, and if we need solutions, we need to work at it ourselves rather than stay in our ivory towers and blame “netas [leaders]”.

Why did you quit the Congress and join the TMC?

This question is 15 years too late and frankly irrelevant.

You won a primarily rural constituency, debunking the myth of this Angrezi-speaking memsahib (English-speaking upper-class woman). You love defying the stereotypes in politics. Has that got you into trouble often?

I don’t know what people mean by “trouble”. If we choose to walk a path that is less trodden, things will crop up. You can’t control what happens — it is how you face them that matters.

Why did you target [Indian businessman] Gautam Adani in Parliament?

Nothing personal at all. I call out Adani Group both inside and outside the House. This group is running the biggest con on the people of India with the help of [Narendra] Modi and the BJP government. They have got singular control of most of India’s infrastructure, and Indians are paying higher prices for electricity, transport, fuel, [and] everything as a result of this government-aided monopoly.

Do you accept that you showed poor judgment in getting [businessman Darshan] Hiranandani to help you and share your login details?

No. I didn’t. I repeat ad nauseam: he didn’t “help” me with anything. He’s a dear friend and remains so. I used secretarial help to upload my questions onto the website, something every single MP does and is, in fact, encouraged to do. No interns and relatives are security checked. There are no rules governing this. The government wanted to get at me and conveniently made this national security bugbear.

Is the fact that you are a single, attractive, articulate woman that has gotten you into trouble?

Ha, ha. I enjoy being all of the above. It’s not my problem if the BJP’s misogyny can’t deal with it.

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What are your views on the democracy deficit in India?

We need to keep standing straight and standing up to these fascist bullies. No matter what the personal cost to each of us is. Else, the cost to the country is far too high.

Did you expect your former partner [Dehadrai] to let you down so spectacularly in public? Why did the fight start with him?

That’s life sometimes. Take it on the chin and move on.

Was getting into a public spat over Henry the dog worth it?

Henry is my child. Some pathetic loser decided to use him to gain two days of fame. That’s ultimately his karma.

You’ve been defamed in public, your private pictures shared. Will you continue in politics?

I’m still in. Politics, president of my organisational district in my party, and fighting the next LS [Lok Sabha, the Lower House of Indian parliament], aren’t I?

What’s photographs got to do with it? If the trolls get a kick out of sharing them, good luck to them.