Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra has written to the Ethics Committee of the Lok Sabha stating that she cannot appear before it on October 31 in connection with cash-for-query allegations due to prior engagements and will be available only after November 5.

In a letter to panel chairperson Vinod Kumar Sonkar, she said, "I look very much forward to appearing before the Committee at any date chosen by you after November 5, 2023." Moitra, in a post on X a day after Sonkar announced that she has been summoned on October 31, said she eagerly look forward to physically attending and presenting her defence against the slanderous charges, but is busy till November 4 on account of Durga Puja celebrations going on in West Bengal.

"Chairman, Ethics Comm announced my 31/10 summons on live TV way before official letter emailed to me at 19:20 hrs. All complaints & suo moto affidavits also released to media.  I look forward to deposing immediately after my pre- scheduled constituency programmes end on Nov 4," she said in the post.

The panel on Thursday recorded the statements of advocate Jai Anant Dehadrai and BJP MP Nishikant Dubey in the matter and also decided to call Moitra on October 31.

Moitra pointed out that she had written to the committee expressing "eagerness" to be given "a fair hearing and an adequate opportunity to defend myself against the false, malicious and defamatory accusations levelled against me by Shri Dubey and Shri Dehadrai." "The Committee against the order of natural justice, if I may humbly add- summoned and heard the complainants Shri Dubai & Shri Dehadrai on 26/10/2023 before allowing me, the alleged accused, a chance to be heard," she said.

 "I represent the state of West Bengal where Durga Puja is the biggest festival. I am already committed to attending numerous pre-scheduled Vijaya Dashami Sammelans/meetings (both government and political) in my constituency from 30th October to 4th November 2023 and cannot be in Delhi on 31st October 2023," she said.

 "Therefore, I request to be given time to appear in person before the committee at any date and time of the committee's choice after 5th November 2023. As a recent example, Shri Ramesh Biduri, MP who was summoned by the Privileges Committee on 10/10/23 requested more time since he had pre-fixed political meetings in Rajasthan and was accorded a similar courtesy by this same branch," she said.

 Moitra said she has an "impeccable record of personal integrity", adding that she is "a vocal member of the Opposition responsible for raising my voice against various corporate scams".