September 18, 2023
Derek O’Brien’s speech on “parliamentary journey of 75 years”
Sir, we had 21 minutes and my colleague has spoken for 3 minutes. hat is not how we have done it. We had 21 minutes. My colleague has spoken for 3 minutes. So, I have got 18 minutes. The board is saying, 18 minutes, Sir. I have not even started. The board is saying, 18 minutes and you are telling me 10 minutes. Sir, the board is saying, 18 minutes. Sir, I can only understand that my Trinamool Congress was given 21 minutes. My colleague has spoken for 3 minutes. Give me back my Parliament. Give me back my Parliament, which is not mocked. Give me back my Parliament, which is not undermined. Give me back my Parliament, where Prime Ministers come and answer questions on the floor of Lok Sabha and on the floor of Rajya Sabha. In the last seven years, not a single question has been answered on the floor of Parliament. Give me back my Parliament, where urgent national issues can be discussed from 11 o’clock in the morning under a special rule. In the last seven years, not one notice given by the Opposition has been accepted. Give me back my Parliament, where we get to see the hon. Prime Minister regularly here with us. In 2021, our hon. Prime Minister was here for four hours and three minutes between the two Houses. Give me back my Parliament, where Members are allowed to vote when Bills are put to vote, and not the sacrilege which happened during the Farm Bill. Give me back my Parliament, where we have a Deputy Speaker in the Lok Sabha. For the last five years, there has been no Deputy Speaker. Give me back my Parliament, where policy making is collaborative, not dictatorial. On record I say, from 2014 to now, one out of ten Bills is sent to Parliamentary Standing Committees for scrutiny. Give me back my Parliament, where legislation undergoes rigorous stakeholder evaluation. On record I say, nine out of ten Bills marked by zero or incomplete pre-legislative consultation. Give me back my Parliament, where Bills are passed keeping this House in mind, the Council of States, the federal structure. On record I say, about one out of three Bills passed have been anti-federal, hurting the States. And, on a personal note, we may be going to the new building. But we have so many bonds, so many friendships, so many crossing of ideological barriers, so many times when we have condoled with colleagues from different parties who have lost their loved ones, or celebrated the births of grand children. We used to do this in the Central Hall. Sir, give me back my Parliament. Let’s go to the new Parliament but keep our Central Hall alive. Give me back my India. Give me back my Bharat. Give me back my India where a State is not consumed by violence for five months. Sorry, Manipur, we still haven’t managed to send our hon. Prime Minister to you. From all of us, ‘sorry’. Give me back my India where one out of three youth are not unemployed. Give me back my India where the double-digit food price inflation does not lead to three out of four people in a situation where they cannot afford a healthy diet. Give me back my India where crimes against women are met with the harshest punishments; where our champion athletes don’t get sexually harassed; and where abusive men in power are not shielded. Yes, my Party, All India Trinamool Congress, led by Ms. Mamata Banerjee needs no lectures on Women’s Reservation Bill. Whether you bring the Bill or don’t bring the Bill, we already have one-third of our elected representatives women here in Parliament. But don’t spare the men who have done what they have done. It doesn’t matter whichever party they come from. Give me back my India where farmers are guaranteed MSP for crops; where farmer suicides are a thing of the past; and where farmers get prioritised over large corporations. Ten thousand farmers committed suicide in 2021. Give me back my India where the Prime Minister pays condolences when jawans are martyred and not attend party functions. Don’t show us hollow nationalism to win political points. Give me back my India where States — and I say this from the Council of States — are not deprived of funds because a State’s political ideology is different from the Union’s political ideology and my Bengal, our Bengal, is deprived of funds worth ten thousand crore rupees. Give me back my India where its profitable PSUs, where its crown jewels — Rail, SAIL, BHEL, BSNL — are not privatised. Give me back my India where people’s hard-earned money is not used to cover up frauds and corporate osses amounting to about 13 lakh crore rupees. Give me back my India where economic offenders do not loot this country and then flee to another land while the common people have to face rise in the price of gas cylinder and price rise. Give me back my India where institutions are not systematically weakened to be subservient to the ruling dispensation. Give me back my India. Give me back my Bharat. Sir, just one minute….. Sir, my subject is… What is two minutes, Sir? What is two minutes? I have got 16. Sir, I am reading from here — Parliamentary journey of 75 years, achievements, experiences, memories and learnings. As a Parliamentarian of 13 years, I am sharing my learnings here in the Council of States. Please allow me, Sir, to express myself. I disagreed with a lot of what the BJP spokesperson said. He is a brilliant speaker. I disagreed with his ideology. We quietly sat. No one disturbed him. He spoke. That was his view. Let me express my view. Give me back my India where media owners — let’s not blame the journalists — are not enslaved by the party in power. Real journalists will remain real journalists. The real villains are the media owners. Sir, I am making a speech. If it is somebody’s right to make a speech, it is your right also to give commentary. I will keep quiet and sit down. Sir, I say this humbly. We expect not to be interrupted. You are right. Okay, Sir. Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party! Give me back my India where the Government does not have to revise the methodology of calculating GDP to make its number appear artificially higher. This has been changed. Give me back my India where slums are not covered with green curtains when we are hosting international events. Give me back my India where dissent does not mean jail. There are Father Stan, Siddique Kappan, Varavara Rao, Gautam Navlakha, Anand Teltumbde and so many. Give me back my India where religious propaganda does not trump science. We have champions — the champions of Chandrayaan. Give me back my India where citizens do not die because of one man’s whimsical announcement of demonetisation at 8 p.m. And if you are talking about positives, look at the policies by some State Governments like in Bengal where there is a migrant policy in place, migrant board in place, etc. Please learn from States. Give me back my India where statistics and data were not the enemy of the State. Give me back my India where the environment was not sacrificed at the altar of corporate profit. Give me back my India where language was a means of communication.. not for Mr. Siva and not for everybody else who are now marked out. Sir, I don’t believe this. ..Sir, I do not believe this. I humbly appeal to you. My Party has 18 minutes. How much more humility do you want me to show? Sir, you have not given me my time. What are you talking about? ….. You have taken away my time.