September 21, 2023
Derek O’Brien’s speech on The Constitution (128th) Amendment Bill, 2023 (Womens Reservation Bill) in the Rajya Sabha
Chairman: Derek O’Brien, seven minutes
Ten minutes Sir
Chairman: Mr KC Venigopal has taken time of other Members.
Sir, what are you doing? Are you making a mockery of this?
Chairman: Is something wrong with you?
Sir, I have got 10 minutes for my party to speak. Why are you doing this?
Chairman: Sit down and listen to me. It has been … virtually you are referring… Dola Sen 10 minutes, your total time is 24 minutes. You have 14 minutes left. Seven each. You can take only 14 minutes.
Just hear me out Sir, if I’m saying something wrong, just please hear me out Sir, please. Sir, my party has 24 minutes, of which 14 minutes have been used. 10 minutes by Dola Sen, four minutes by Masusam Noor. 24 minus 14 is 10.
Chairman: Okay take 10 minutes
Sir, I have not started and it is already 1.25 pm.
Sir, I support the Women’s Reservation Bill. But when will this government learn that this is a Parliamentary Democracy and not an army commando operation? In an army commando operation, you need secrecy, you need surprise, you need stealth. In a Parliamentary Democracy, you don’t. You need cooperation, you need sharing. Why do you bring this Parliamentary bulletin Special Session without an agenda where the agenda will be added later? Why do you have an all-party meeting on Sunday and don’t mention a word about this Bill? Why do you have a Cabinet meeting and this morning we are given four hours to submit amendments?
Sir, honestly I appeal to them, such parliamentary democracy with such secrecy hurts a democracy. We know why it is being done and for the last three days, one man’s story is being told. Fair enough. Today, I want to begin with a quote, ‘Sir, we want the Women’s Bill to be introduced. We want nothing short of the Women’s Bill. We want a specific date. We want an assurance that the Women’s Bil is brought. This is a matter of shame that it hasn’t been brought. We want a specific time frame.’ This is very nice today. This was said by somebody in the Lok Sabha on the 14th of July 1998. It was a woman MP. Today, she is the three-time Chief Minister of Bengal. She is the founder-chairperson of the Trinamool Congress and she has already got 40% of women MPs already in the Lok Sabha. From July 14, 1998, let this woman’s story be told. In 2006, a 26-day hunger strike, no reservations, struggling and fighting for her rights as a woman. In 2014, she set a record because the Bill didn’t get passed, so what did she do? She gave 41% of tickets in the Lok Sabha to women MPs. The BJP President, the first speaker was saying that this is the shortest way to bring women to Parliament. No Sir, this is not the shortest way; you did not need the Bill. Bring them, show us and bring them to Parliament.
Now you come to the life of this woman. In 2019, she set a record. Not only does she get 40% women, tickets, 39% of Lok Sabha MPs (from Trinamool) are already sitting in the Lok Sabha. Why do I say this? It is one thing to give the women tickets, it is another thing to make sure you give them tickets which are winnable. Sir, we have heard one man’s story. One woman’s story needs to be told today in this new Parliament building. I will tell you more, my last date, the men came for the 2021 Assembly elections in Bengal with money, with media, with muscle power, with misogyny and mocker her, ‘𝘋𝘪𝘥𝘪 𝘖 𝘋𝘪𝘥𝘪’. You even tried to smash and you broke her foot, smashed it to injure her, yes! She gave you the answer truly like a woman, softly <interruptions> The woman answered her how? The woman didn’t answer, the people of Bengal and India provided the answer. After the election what happened? The Health Minister of Bengal, the Finance Minister of Bengal, the Land Minister, the Industry Minister, and the Commerce Ministry are all headed by women. You could not find one woman in your 16 Chief Ministers to make Chief Minister and you are coming and telling us what to do about women. Take some of our advice.
Now we will give you, like how we gave in 1998, you are trying to implement in 2045 or whatever; listen to two pieces of advice from us and take it in good spirits. Because women, at least my Chairperson has a vision which I look up to. So here is one suggestion.
If you are so keen, and it’s past 2 PM already, so, nobody can submit any amendments – as we are all saying, the Congress party, the Trinamool, the DMK, the AAP, all of us. We, INDIA, we are saying bring this in 2024. So, all you need to do to bring this in 2024 is remove 334(A) from your existing…We will start in, we will start in 2024. If you are, one second sir, if you are finding that difficult to do, here is another solution. At least try, 2024 – an open challenge from my party, you bring one-third of women elected from your party and show us. Bring! Bring and show us. I guarantee you we will bring one-third of women, with your bill, without your bill.
Sir, some people have a sense of humor and I am sure we haven’t lost our sense of humor here, because the joke going around is there is a typographical error in the bill, that actually it is 2024, should actually…. actually meant 2034. Now, I don’t know whether that’s true or false, but I have got a second suggestion. This very nice, sir, idea this morning of having ladies sit there for 15 minutes, 16 minutes, all through the day. So, here’s an idea which may not happen in ’24 but think about it – it’s coming to you from my party as a suggestion. Get everybody on board, have proper discussion on the subject and then bring one-third women reservation also in RajyaSabha. We will all support. It can’t be done in a hurry but bring it. Today you may think it’s a crazy, zany idea, but no. It is possible, if not in the next 6 years, in the next 10 years. The question is sir, for all the speeches we hear is the BJP really serious about empowering women? Because all the struggles and oppression faced by women is not because of women. It’s because of men and their outlook of men to women. I don’t want to spend time, wasting my time on a former wrestling chief, leave that. I am quoting from the Hindustan Times, “People in air-conditioned rooms in Delhi, cannot decide public policy, this bill will drown the Indian political system if it goes through. If men develop feminine traits, they become Gods. If women develop masculine traits, they become Rakshas. Western ideas of women’s liberation should be properly analyzed in the Indian context.” Said by who? I will tell you who said it. You can build a new building sir, but I request all of you to first change your mindset. This was said by the current Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.
Sir, in conclusion, in conclusion, I am happy I am allowed to conclude today, in the old house at least I wasn’t allowed, but I am happy. Sir, I wish to conclude by remembering my favorite woman of all time – my Maa. My mother, who’s no more. Maa would always tell me, that you know Derek, this world is divided into only two kinds of people – the talkers and the doers. So, some people will talk – 15 crore into your…. One something, 15 lakhs into your bank account, farmer income trebled, after demonetization this will happen, after that will happen. There is one difference sir, the talkers and the doers. There is only one difference, because there are only two kinds of people, so there is a talker and there is a doer. There is a male Prime Minister of India. There is a simple woman, who is a Chief Minister of Bengal.
Thank you so much.