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March 6, 2013

Promises Made, Promises Delivered : That`s what India wants

Trinamool Chief Whip Derek O`Brien speaks on motion of thanks on President`s Address at RS :

Sir, it is a matter of immense pride that for the first time since Independence, a son of Bengal delivered the President`s Address in the Central Hall of Parliament. Bengal`s famous son has, indeed, come a long way since the time he was a Professor of Political Science at Vidyanagar College, in South 24-Parganas. We wish him well. We wish him happiness. We are truly proud of him. This pride, however, is stringed with deep regret because after nine years we expected a Government to provide a satisfactory report card on what it has achieved.

Instead they have told us about how bad things are, nationally and globally. In fact, they have also told us that they couldn`t fix the problems in 108 months, and they have given us a kind of a thesis that they will fix the problems in the next 12 months and after that, when they will again get a chance to fix the problems, will do so in sixty months thereafter. Let me put their last thought out of the window right at the top of my speech. The next 60 months will not be UPA-III. There will be no UPA-III because the people of this country have figured this out that vague promises made on infrastructure, vague promises made on women`s issues or farmers` issues or other issues have not been delivered. We were a part of the UPA-II. But soon we figured out that the UPA-II, in fact, had become APA, that is, Anti People`s Alliance, and that is why, on FDI, on LPG, on prices of urea, on diesel prices, etc., we came out of the Government.

Sir, when I talk about the UPA-II, — I will not talk of years but I will talk of months – that is, 108 months of running India as the UPA, let us look at that, on the one hand, and look at 20 months of running West Bengal by the Trinamool Congress with facts, with figures, with promises made and promises delivered. Sir, let us start with women because we always say, `ladies first`. Women do not need tokenism because crimes like rape are as much about prevention; we need tangible solutions. In the last 20 months, 45 all-women police stations have been set up in Bengal; 151 Fast Track Courts have been set up there; 19 Human Rights Courts have been set up, one in every district. This is an example of promises made and promises delivered.

Then, Sir, talking of peace and development, take the case of Jungle Mahal. There was a time till about 25 months ago, when a child couldn`t step on to the field to play football or a mother had to down the shutters when the sun set. Today, it is very different. This is not poetry but these are real numbers. Since there has been a political will to bring peace, from a situation which existed three years ago, where 425 deaths were reported, — these are not our numbers but the numbers of the Home Ministry – it was 50 in 2010-11 and this year, the number is zero. So there is peace and development because someone had the political will to bring peace and development. Again, another example of North Bengal which is smiling about promises made and promises delivered. Let us look at the economic scenario. They were thinking of bringing the FDI. Actually, before the FDI, many years ago, the Congress (I) Government brought FID, which is fiscal indiscipline, about which the LoP was giving one example and I want to give one example more about Bengal because the Communists were there for thirty years, with the full backing of the Congress (I) Party. The Congress (I) Party encouraged the fiscal indiscipline — I am not making excuses but I am telling you what the solution is – so much so that a baby born in Bengal today is born with a debt of Rs.70,000, and Rs.2,00,000 crores is the debt burden of the Communists encouraged by the Congress (I) Party in West Bengal. Now what did we do? Did we sit there and mourn and say that the situation is bad there? No. We looked for solutions. In the last year of the Communist rule in West Bengal, with the full support of the Congress (I) for fiscal indiscipline, the tax collection was Rs.21,000 crores. Sir, this year, you will be happy to know that Bengal has collected Rs.31,000 crores in taxes. And this is not because we raised the taxes but because we used creative means and we even started e-governance, and e-governance has become one of the big things in Bengal. So, we collected about Rs.31,000 crores. But the problem still exists because we still have to pay back to the Central Government the tax amount of Rs.26,000 crores. Where does that leave us? We have been asking for a three-year moratorium on debt. Sir, we are not begging. We are not asking for sympathy. We are asking for the right of the people of Bengal of giving this back to us.

 Now, Sir, of all the bad things that we say about the Congress (I) Party, there are certain good things as well. They also have a world record, and I want to congratulate them on this world record. Why not! When we look at the Central Government schemes and institutions they have, out of 58 of them, 27 are named after one family.

Sir, State Governments schemes have 52 names named after one family. University education institutes have 98 names named after one family. Medical institutions have 39 names named after one family. It is fairly good. My only suggestion is, Sir, these are names which are already there and we can`t change them. But, in the future, may we humbly suggest some other names. Mahatma Gandhi has four institutes named after him, Netaji has none, Tagore has one institute named after him. How about Bhagat Singh, how about Swami Vivekananda, how about Lal Bahadur Shastri? We need to be a little creative; otherwise, I am afraid no one is going to break the record even if they don`t name one name after the same family. But, Sir, I want to stick to the positives and I want to stick to this focus of 20 months against 108 months. Coming to work culture, Sir, let me talk about hard numbers. Work culture was a big issue in Bengal in 20 months. In 2009, Sir, number of man-days lost in Bengal was 76 lakhs every year. Look at the numbers of 2011-12. Those numbers, from 76 lakhs, have come down to 60,000. In 2012-13, the number is down to 5,200. Yes, Sir, promises were made, promises were delivered. A bandh was recently called, and we saw there also, there was 98 per cent of attendance at Writers Building because all these bandhs were Government sponsored bandhs. Sir, let us come to some social issues. And I am talking about the real promises delivered after they were made 20 months ago. Sir, take health. In 34 years, seven neo-natal units were set up in Bengal. Now we have got to be mourning like the Congress is doing today, mourning about the global economy. We have got to change it because we want to change it. From seven neo-natal healthcare units in 34 years, in the last 20 months, 20 new units have been opened and by the year end, 43 will be opened by the Mamata Banerjee Government. There is a wonderful model now in Bengal for doctors. What is the model? If a doctor works in rural areas, in the backward districts, for three years, when he comes back, we give them a special quota on their post-graduate diploma. Or look at the Kolkata Municipal Corporation. They have taken 60,000 families under the universal healthcare scheme, or one thousand sex workers have been included in the scheme. Sir, there was a very interesting survey, not done by the Trinamool Congress Party mouthpiece, but by a magazine called `India Today`. Two weeks ago, I read this. And it was published. They talked about the number one medical facilities city in India. Sir, we are proud to say that it was from Bengal. It is Howrah. So we have managed to make a difference, Sir, in 20 months. Look at physical infrastructure. A 2000 megawatts in 20 months, 5000 megawatts in next 500 days and in the next 600 days Bengal will be power surplus. Sir, drinking water was a big problem in Purulia. Now, rather than sit and mourn, we made some promises. We have delivered the promises with a 3000 acre project in Purulia and people are having good drinking water. Now leave the physical infrastructure. Let us move on to the social infrastructure. Again, in 20 months, promises were made and promises were delivered. On minorities, my colleague will speak tomorrow on this subject in detail. Coming to schools, Sir, 44,000 teachers have been appointed and this is from a State where the Communists stopped the teaching of English 17 years ago – four additional universities have been opened, one ITI in every block, and a proposal to have one polytechnic in every sub-division. I have no special love for `India Today`, but in their ranking of States, last year, Bengal was 18. This year also we delivered these promises for education. We are three. Sir, what about farmers? I will mention two quick points on farmers. `Jal Dharo, Jal Bharo` is a rainwater harvesting scheme. It is a unique scheme. We had promised 20 months ago, which was a huge promise, that we would make 60,000 ponds. In 20 months, Sir, we have done 43,000 ponds which are helping farmers for rain harvesting. Sir, ten lakh Kisan Credit Cards were given out to farmers. All this has happened, Sir. And the point that we are trying to make here is that we don`t need 108 months if you have a political will. You can do it in 20 months. But, Sir, the Congress Party has a history of neglecting Bengal. Partition of India; historians sometimes believe, and I do not want to push this point, but actually, with the partition of two States, Punjab and Bengal, Netaji was elected President of the Congress. And we all know what happened there.

But, Sir, for three decades, the Congress Party was keen to keep the Communists in power in Bengal. Everybody knows this. And, that is why on the 1st January, 1998, one person (Mamta Banerjee) who was serious about throwing the Communists out — otherwise, the Communists would have been here for another two decades — had to leave or was thrown out of the Congress Party and set up the Trinamool Congress to, finally, remove Communists from Bengal.

Sir, let me now talk about the process of omission. Sir, not a word in the President's Address on poverty — either the Congress has forgotten about it or it has eradicated it. Sir, not a word, out of the 6,477 words Address, about jute. India is the largest producer of jute. There are 70 jute mills and 60 are in one State. The employment is 400 lakh families. There is no mention of jute in the Address.


Sir, I come to tea. It has been a great year for tea. A Wage Agreement was signed peacefully in North Bengal, Darjeeling, in 20 months. It was a win-win situation for tea.

Sir, the Rail Budget discussion will be taken up in the next week. So, we will discuss that in detail. But, the Rail Budget was, I think, a true vengeance of how when you take on someone politically, because they have forgotten about the people at large of India, how they can be revengeful. Sir, Rs. 14,000 crores was given for Bengal last year. This year, it is something like Rs. 450 crores.

Sir, last year, the then Finance Minister — now, the highest Constitutional authority — had made a very noble and wonderful gesture on Gurudev's 150 Years of Birth Anniversary. It was a wonderful gesture to set up Tagore Centre across the world. Sir, nothing has happened to those Tagore Centre. In fact, I charge this Government to say that money for those Tagore Centres, especially the one in Melbourne, has been diverted and used for other purposes. This is not only an insult to the memory of Tagore, but to the people of India.

But, Sir, when it comes to diversions and commissions, there is something to be said on commissions, divergence and, in fact, let me conclude it with an issue on Defence. Sir, it is the norm all over the world and it is accepted that 10-15 per cent is given as commission.

Yes, Sir. There are two speakers from my party. I will take two minutes and other speaker from my party will take ten minutes. I am okay, Sir. There are 25 minutes for both of us.

So, it is an acceptable norm around the world that 10-15 per cent commission is paid on Defence deals. If you ask an average Indian that what is the first image which comes to his or her mind when you say Armed services? They, probably, tell you, 'It is the image of a Jawan in uniform on a border post.' But, if you ask a few people in Government that what is the first image that comes to their mind when you talk about Armed services. I regret to say, Sir, some of them will say 'dollar bills.' Now, this is what I cannot understand. At one stage we say that the Prime Minister is an honest man and hon. man, then we go on to say that the Defence Minister is an honest man and hon. man. Then, tell me who is taking these commissions? …(Interruptions)…The point here is: Do the Congress Party wants to set up another world record? It has already set up a world record. Does it want to set up another world record like they did with naming — by setting up the world's largest family enterprise? Yes, Sir. This is sensitive. We know it is touchy. We have people behind the back saying that ED, CBI and whatever are behind Trinamool Congress. But, Trinamool Congress has two things behind its back — one is the support of Mamta Banerjee and the second one is the love, affection and encouragement of the people of Bengal. So, we are not bothered.  The youth of India is no mood to accept vague promises. The women of India are fed up with broken promises. The poor of India are tired of broken promises. Today's India demands, like the people of Bengal have done, 'You make promises; you deliver on them.' Thank you.