Rajya Sabha

August 11, 2021

Derek O’Brien speaks in support of The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Seventh Amendment) Bill, 2021

Derek O’Brien speaks in support of The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Seventh Amendment) Bill, 2021


Sir, I stand here on behalf of the All India Trinamool Congress to gladly support The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Seventh Amendment) Bill, 2021. With this full support, I want to make an appeal to you because I am feeling a little sad, but I am sure the appeal will work. Yesterday, there were seven or eight who discussed this Bill in the Lok Sabha, and today we have six more hours to go. We are missing somebody in Parliament. We are missing our Honourable Prime Minister. So, through you, Sir, I make a humble appeal, we still got five or six hours to go.

Sir, there is no doubt that our Honourable Prime Minister is a great believer in the Olympic Games. There is an Olympian god, Poseidon. Poseidon is linked today with the army, media, ministers, activists, judiciary, Opposition members, Abhishek Banerjee. How is it, Sir? Because Poseidon’s son is called Pegasus. So, maybe tomorrow or day after, if you want to extend this discussion, we would also like to come and discuss this on the floor of the House.

I am very happy today because I am the second speaker from the Opposition. Now, it may be a coincidence that the first speaker from the Opposition was my friend and colleague who is an MP from Bengal. My friend and colleague Abhishek Manu Singhvi was sent by Congress and Trinamool Congress MLAs. So, this is not a coincidence because I was not going to talk about election, I come straight to the OBC Bill. But since the previous speaker told me that he is going to win some election in 2023 or 2022, I must mildly remind him that there are 9 per cent OBCs, and 30 per cent scheduled castes and tribes in Bengal, along with 50 per cent women, we actually do not want to talk about the elections because we do not talk, we do.

But it seems that the nightmare is continuing and our friends here can’t get away from Bengal. Because first Singhvi and now O’Brien. And the Bengal election was not because we are discussing our Constitution today. It was not just an election of my party’s manifesto versus another party’s manifesto. Our interpretation is that it was an election against a manifesto, against the Constitution. The Constitution won.

Since I’m not a trained lawyer, I won’t always use pretty words. Now something in Bangla: “Na pari shoite, na pari koite”. This basically means, “Neither can I bear the pain, nor can I express myself”. And I am actually referring to legislation. What this government’s track record is on poor legislation. “Mistakes”, “oversight”, “carelessness”—those were the words from my fellow MP from West Bengal. I am a bit more blunt: “incompetence”.

Let me give you examples, Sir. My party, like every other party, moved a dissent note, saying that this Bill undermines the role of state governments and state commissions. This was much before we went to the Supreme Court. But I want to use this opportunity today to show how deep this incompetence of legislation is, because we are talking about constitutional amendment.

A fantastic amendment from 2016: GST. They passed the Bill, and we all supported it. But we warned them on the implementation. And this is a real record: 376 changes were made to GST in 10 months. My request, through you, to the Government is, harbar mat karo, hamara suggestions lo. Gear change karo. Nahin to Bangal mein jo hua baki desh mein bhi ho jaega.

Sir, the Honorable Home Minister was here a few months or a year ago. On the floor of the House, the Honorable Home Minister, not some ordinary person, spoke about the Citizenship Amendment Act. But what happened? Dikhawa. Kuch nahin hua, and in Parliament. I’ll give you another example, Sir: farm Bills. Again, what did you do? You didn’t listen.

The basic hypothesis is that, fault one, fault two, lovely, then you correct the fault, and then congratulate yourself. So this is basic, and what my fellow MP from Bengal and myself are trying to say. Now let us come to the core issue of federalism. It is good that in this Bill, you have done the correction. But I have done a study, rather the whole team in Trinamool has done a study. We have studied the last 98 Bills passed in Parliament; out of the 98 passed, 29 are core anti-federal Bills, 29!

Now, about being anti-federal. Rs 6,90,000 crore promised to the states—and by making these promises, you are saying you are federal—you have not given the states six lakh ninety thousand crores. It’s an assault on federalism. Sir, listen, let me explain to these people. The basic hypothesis of the Supreme Court, the OBC has been made by the opening batsmen. We have discussed our speeches yesterday. That is the coordination we have in the opposition. What is the problem if we do that? Sir, now you come to one interesting point – again the states. 2014, the states would spend 46%. Now, the states are spending 65% on the programmes they undertake. Sir, why no caste based census? Why no caste based census? It’s an obvious question, it’s a rhetorical question, but….You see, the BJP has one answer to all the problems. The real reason to all this, even in 2018, Pandit Nehru did this, Pandit Nehru did the draft wrong. Have some humility and say that sometimes you made a mistake…(interruptions) Sir, we allowed the top two (BJP MPs) to do the talking for three months.

On this, because the caste-based census is not done, and I want to take you back because again it’s a small group of people, it doesn’t matter if it’s SC/ST or OBC, they are small groups. Look at the 126th Amendment which Parliament passed. The point I am trying to make here is that the smaller you become the more the majoritarianism attacks you. We all welcomed the 126th Amendment. Why? Because you took the SC/ST reservation up by 10 years. We said not 10 years, take it by 30 years. But what did you do? Cheap stunt. A small community of 400,000, the Anglo-Indian community, you took away their reservation in the 10 Assemblies and the two MPs. What did you tell them? You told them that the Census said they comprise 200 people. <Interruptions> Sir, now you know why this government does not want to discuss the son of Poseidon, because if we start discussing it, lots of skeletons will come out of the cupboard.

Sir, in conclusion, I want to make two points. One is on-ground implementation. Only nine OBC professors are teaching in Central universities across India against 313 quota posts. Look carefully at some of your states, especially Uttar Pradesh. Forty-eight per cent of all students in India dropping out of IITs and over 63.6 per cent from IIMs are from reserved categories. These are the big issues we have to take up. Just don’t give them numbers. Make sure the rules are implemented.

My last point, Sir. In the last 22 days, 35 Bills, and everyone is patting themselves on the back. This was written for me yesterday by a very famous Indian lady, internationally famous, not Mamata di. So we are talking about how you summarise what has been happening in the last two years in India. This is beautiful. This is not some international quote. And I reiterate that we fully support this Constitutional amendment.

This is what is written Sir, please listen to this and maybe afterwards you can give me your Hindi translation which will make it even better.

“We must not forget the dead.
We must not forget the dead.
Summer of dying,
Monsoon of spying,
Year-round lying.”

Thank you, Sir.