February 4, 2021
Derek O’Brien speaks on Motion of Thanks on the President’s Address
Sir, in these times we must be thankful for small freedoms. Like the freedom to speak without the mike being muted. Like The freedom to speak without the video feed being censored. Like The freedom to speak and express ourselves within this Council of States, as per the rules, without being dragged by the marshals. Yes Sir, these are the small freedoms but in these times we must cherish these freedoms. After all, we are, barring twelve here, elected MPs, having been sent to this Rajya Sabha by at least twenty, thirty, forty, fifty MLAs each; those MLAs from the states have elected us to the House here.
So Sir, if we are feeling the pursuit, the intimidation, the hounding, what are our journalists feeling? What are our farmers feeling? This is not about MPs or journalists, this is not only about our farmers, this is about the Indian citizen.
Sir, I can say on behalf of the All India Trinamool Congress, that whenever we have spoken on the President’s Address in the last 22 years, we never moved or voted on a motion against it. We may completely disagree with it, but that is the parampara of our founder-chairperson, that no, stand up, oppose, give your views, but the President is in some way presenting what the Council of Ministers has put together, or the Prime Minister has put together, so I have no quibble on that.
But allow us today to speak on what was not in the President’s Address or what could have been there. Because this government has failed India. Now that is not rhetoric. This government has failed India at many levels. In the time I have on hand, I would touch on about ten to eleven levels in which this government has failed India.
Sir, the government has failed to uphold the sanctity of Parliament.
What happened on September 20, 2020? It is about the great tradition here and the rules of the House. A lot of young people have asked me in the last four months about what exactly happened. What is the rule? So, I think a lot of young India needs to understand what exactly the rule is and what happened.
I am not passing any judgment on the Chair. I am just recounting the events. Here is how it works.
When the government brings a Bill, before that, any Member can bring a resolution. So multiple Members bought resolutions. Now, you can’t just suddenly decide two-three hours before; you have to give these resolutions one or two days in advance. The resolutions said these three Bills should go to a Select Committee.
Now, this is interesting. Who will be the chairman of that Select Committee? Why is that Select Committee put together in the first place? A Select Committee is put together so that you can further examine the Bill. Now, who will be the chairman of the Select Committee? An MP from the government’s side will be, in this case, from BJP.
Who will have the majority in that Select Committee of 30 members? The government. Why? Because they have a majority in the Lok Sabha, and those numbers are reflected here in the Rajya Sabha. So the government also has the numbers.
And the third thing is: Who will sign the final Select Committee report on the Bill? Again, the government. All that the opposition was asking for—and multiple parties, all 16-17 opposition parties, does not matter who gave the resolution—was, please send this Bill to the Select Committee. The Select Committee can have a discussion with everyone on board; it takes three or four months. But no, and the government failed the sanctity of Parliament because of its arrogance. These are the rules in Parliament.
Rule 252 (on division) is a very simple rule. It is not that somebody just puts up his hands and says I want voting. No, no, no. It’s decided before because the notice has been given before. I don’t want to get technical but this is the reality, which needs to be known.
So what did the opposition do? Seven members of the opposition, believing in this cause for farmers, were suspended. How did we register our protest, for the first time since independence, to my knowledge? Seven MPs spent one night by the Gandhi statue. Some of us thought, oh! Our friends and relatives said, wow, you did a great job. No, it was just a small drop in the ocean. That September 20 was a drop in the ocean.
I am hearing a lot of people say, the opposition is not strong, the opposition is not united in the movement. That’s why I said September 20 was just a drop in the ocean. After that drop in the ocean, look what the farmers have done. It is their movement, not that of anybody in the opposition. And look at what they have done.
Today, the All India Trinamool Congress feels that yes, we must participate in this address, but how can we, in our own small way, bow our heads to these 160 or 170 farmers who passed away? Sometimes our words are not enough. So what we thought is—I can only tell you what my colleagues in the Trinamool Congress here will do, Sukhendu Sekhar Ray, Dinesh Trivedi, Nadimul Haque and all our Rajya Sabha MPs—I will cut short my speech now for one minute and the four of us will stand in tribute to the farmers who lost their lives, and then I will continue my speech. I cannot speak for everybody, I can only speak for Trinamool.
Sir, when it comes to farmers, I represent a lady who knows a few things about farmers. This is well-documented modern Indian history. A 26-day hunger strike, not in Singhu but in Singur, is documented in modern Indian history. So I wasn’t surprised when, a few days into farmers’ agitation, Mamata Banerjee, on December 4, said, please go there with the MPs, but make sure there are no party flags, no symbols, avoid television cameras, just go there and listen to the farmers. And we went.
Again on December 23 we went and listened—to Harbhagwan Singh and Rajpal Singh from Hoshiarpur, to Harveer Singh from Amritsar, to Gurpal Singh from Hoshiarpur and to at least 25-30 farmers from Tarn Taran Sahib, whom we met separately. We heard their stories. They didn’t know about parliamentary rules but they were expressing themselves and we were listening.
Sir, now about the January 26 events. The whole House has agreed on what we all feel but just imagine the unfortunate tractor incident where a farmer died under mysterious circumstances. Just imagine if that had happened in Bengal or in Maharashtra. Who is in charge of law and order there? All I am saying is that the truth be told. I am not coming to any conclusions. Let the truth come out. Who is in charge of that incident? The Home Minister of India is in charge. Do a proper enquiry and let the truth come out. What more I am saying?
The political and administrative responsibilities lie with the Prime Minister and the Home Minister. Let us be very clear about this.
Now we come to the farmers’ issue. Now the government says 18 months. How is this done? Because there is no Mr Arun Jaitley to spend half-an-hour to try to understand and explain. This government is very clear. It’s our position, it’s everybody’s position. The Repealing Bill 2021—that will repeal all the three farmer Bills. Because you have asked for 18 months in any case. We have taken the liberty, and all humility, in drafting the Repealing Bill and I will share it with them. Repeal these three bills, because there is no other way to do it. Follow that system and do it. Eighteen months you have put it on pause. How? This is the way to do it.
Sir, when it comes to farmers, you have to see which party I am speaking from. I am speaking from the All India Trinamool Congress.
The Prime Minister of India had said that by 2022, farmer income would be doubled. That was a promise. At current rates, if that were to happen, it will not happen before 2028.
Bangal mein kya hua? Trinamool government mein kya hua? From 2011 to now, not double, the farmer income has been tripled in Bengal.
Let’s talk more about farmers. Since arrogance and hubris is not letting the government listen, let us take some examples:
Payment of Rs 5,000 per acre to farmers is the Krishak Bandhu Scheme in Bengal. The PM-Kisan Scheme pays Rs 1,200 per acre.
The crop insurance scheme, Bangla Shoshyo Bima, pays the premium for the farmer. The government pays for the farmer. Under the PM Fasal Yojana, the farmers have to pay the premium; and I am glad that, when one-and-a-half years ago I spoke on the subject, the Agriculture Minister was here and he acknowledged this. That is why I am saying this with a lot of pride. The Government of India, and not any political party, gave Bengal an award for this.
If you are talking about farmers, let’s talk about how this government views farmers from different states. I am very happy though that the government acquires on behalf of FCI from different states; it does not matter which state, but the more you acquire the better it is.
Now, let’s take rice. Uttar Pradesh, 71 lakh metric tonnes, good. I am happy for Uttar Pradesh. Haryana, 64 lakh metric tonnes. Telangana, happier, 111 lakh metric tonnes. Bengal, we know how much they love Bengal. No lakhs, from the state with the largest rice producers for Central Government schemes, from Bengal, the Centre acquires 76,000 metric tonnes. These are numbers I am giving you on the floor of Parliament, dispute them.
This government has failed in COVID-19 preparation. I say preparation. We all know about the visit. Today, we are getting touchy about other people commenting on things which are happening in India. Who said this line before the Trump campaign? ‘Ab Ki Baar, Trump Sarkar’? Kaun bola tha? Uddhav Thackeray ji ne bola tha? Mamata Banerjee ne bola tha? Hemant Soren ne bola tha? And they are talking about interference.
Regarding the preparation for COVID-19. On March 11, 2020, COVID-19 was declared. WHO declared it as a pandemic, at which time we were all here in Parliament. My senior colleague Dinesh Trivedi was here, he had told me that day, “Parliament chalega”. I said, “Kya bol rahe ho?” He said, “Haan, pehle Madhya Pradesh, tab”. That’s the second failure in the preparation.
The third failure on the preparation—March 24, about which we all know, four hours, on March 24, 2020.
Then is something very interesting because then—and I am willing to say, yes, this part was well done—the Centre, after it was bulldoze, bulldoze, bulldoze, figured that the states are the implementing authorities and today, as much as the BJP wants to take credit for all this, the states have made things better. One chief minister wrote to all chief ministers about trains and migrant workers. Check that letter, dated March 26, 2020. One chief minister, the one of Bengal, ensured the setting up of isolation wards as preparation for COVID-19.
Now what are you doing? This is what we love about this government. When it comes to taking the credit, the Centre will take the credit. And when it comes to passing the buck, pass the buck. This is the Council of States. I will appeal to all the states, to find out how much your state was given on account of COVID-19. I have the Bengal numbers. Bengal has spent Rs 4,000 crore on COVID-19. It needed Rs 11,387 crore. Here’s another number for you in Parliament. Rs 279 crore. And you want to come and win Bengal? Maybe some of the next speakers from BJP will answer these questions. Maybe the Prime Minister will answer these questions, maybe the Home Minister will answer these questions, because so far we have had two newbies, with all due respect, speaking for BJP. It’s their prerogative, though; they can get anybody to speak.
You know, Sir, there are two types of girls or boys in class. One who comes first in class and the other one who can also do well but can only copy and come first, never otherwise. While I am on the subject of health, Ayushman Bharat, Ayushman Bharat, very good. Ayushman Bharat was started in 2018 by the Honourable Prime Minister. Bengal’s Swasthya Sathi was started two years earlier by the Honourable Chief Minister of Bengal. That is one difference, two years before you.
The cards in Bengal are issued in the name of the woman of the family, thus empowering women. Both have insurance amounts of Rs 5 lakh. In the state’s case, the state pays 100 per cent and in the Centre’s case, the Centre pays only 40 per cent. The state also has the humility—we also want to see some humility from the Central government—to say three or four months ago, “Hey listen, all of you might not have received your cards, so here’s a new scheme: a door-to-door scheme named Duare Sarkar. We haven’t done anything in the last five years, we are not perfect but we will be, we can be.” A total of 2.6 crore people have registered and are now getting their cards. Not arrogance, Sir, but humility.
This government has failed the migrant workers. During the lockdown, all of us had a chance to do a lot of reading. I read a fantastic book on migrant workers by a professor at IIM Ahmedabad, Chinmay Tumbe, who is also from Gujarat. There he says, “out of every six workers in India, they have one migrant worker.” It’s a fabulous book. Ten crore migrant workers account for 10 per cent of India’s GDP. A lot of good work comes out of professors in Ahmedabad, Sir.
But what did you do here? Four hours (lockdown notice), no trains. What did you do last week in Bengal? Four hours, chartered plane. Now let me explain the significance of this because this fact may be lost on so many of you. The Honourable Home Minister was supposed to come to Bengal for a political rally. He needed to stay back in Delhi for a good reason. So what was done? Two-and-a-half or one-and-a-half MLAs who were switching sides were sent a chartered plane and brought here in four hours. I wish so much love and affection was shown for migrant workers and we could have seen those pictures.
When it comes to migrant workers, and we ask for data in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, this government truly becomes the NDA – No Data Available.
This government has failed India’s federal structure, which is enshrined in the Constitution. I can give you 20 examples but I will give two or three.
The young people of India need to know about cess. The tax that is collected by the states, when given to the Centre, a devolution, or sharing happens, which means 40 per cent of the tax collected by the state goes back to the state. But when the government imposes cess, that is not shared with the states.
Honourable Deputy Chairman, Sir, this will interest you even more because you are from my neighbouring state of Odisha.
Cess is never shared with states. This time there was a cess too, since Out of all the gross revenue—because Rashtrapati ji had spoken about federalism in his speech—in 1980, 2 per cent was cess. And what is the cess now? Almost 16 per cent is being collected as cess. Every state government must be aware of this. From 2 per cent to 16 per cent as cess.
Every time you collect a cess, you deprive the states. These days, no one talks about Brent crude, which is now down to $22 a barrel, till you get the tailwind of the government. When my colleague is speaking on the Budget he will give you more on that.
Sir, devolution is also interesting. There is 42 per cent devolution. But what is the hocus-pocus happening here? It is regarding the decreased funding pattern of the Central schemes. To increase tax devolution to states to 42 per cent from 32 per cent, the Centre decreased the funding pattern of centrally-sponsored Schemes from 75:25 (Centre: state) to 60:40.
First it was 60 per cent Centre and 40 per cent state, or 50 per cent Centre and 50 per cent state. Now you see the schemes; no more of that. Look carefully, 75 per cent state, 25 per cent Centre! This is an assault on federalism.
This government has failed federalism, and it actually saddens me because the Home Minister today was once the home minister of a state, and the Prime Minister was a chief minister of a state. So they are actually children of the federal structure.
MPLAD Funds. The Prime Minister will be here. I cannot even put a tube-well up now. Yes, Rs 8,000 crore was needed. But find a way to allow the MPs of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha that freedom. Small freedom, of Rs 5 crore.
Again an assault on federalism, all hocus-pocus. There is no Railway Budget. I used to love speaking on the Railway Budget. Now listen to how they have failed federalism in the case of railways too. Till 2015, every railway project was 100 per cent done by the Centre. Over the last few years, though, a new mechanism is in place called SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle). What’s the deal there? The state has to pay 50 per cent and the Railways has to pay 50 per cent. Why? Then you will say you don’t do politics.
There is a pink book of the Railways—which still has not been tabled, but which, I hope, they are going to table today—which gives you the state expenditures. Last year you shelved 31 projects in Bengal, all started by Mamata Banerjee. Now suddenly, because it’s winter, or maybe for some other reason, I don’t know, you suddenly said you are giving Bengal some more money this year. Kya ho raha hain April-May mahina mein?
Instead, look at the total which was supposed to be given to a state and how much of that has been given.
Infrastructure: Look at the Budget papers. Rs 1 lakh crore on infrastructure, that’s it. Now you come and announce a pre-election package of 625 km of roads. Dekh lo. Bengal is number one in road infrastructure. We have built 89,000 km of roads. And I am only giving you a Bengal example. I am sure Kerala will have examples, Maharashtra will have examples.
Someone asked: Why weren’t we present during the President’s address? These were the issues the President could not address and we understand that and we have full respect. Why? This is the way it is done.
You have failed India’s youth: I do not want to repeat some of the points because Digvijay ji had the same point, and I am happy to acknowledge that he covered the jobs and youth issue really well. One crore jobs were lost in India, some say one-and-a-half crore. On the other hand, Bengal reduced unemployment by 40 per cent during the pandemic. Not Trinamool Congress figures, not Bengal government figures, these are Government of India figures.
What about MGNREGA? Sometimes we have to remind them: “Gadde khodne ka scheme.” Yeh kaun bola tha? Kisne bola? The former chief minister of Gujarat said this on February 27, 2015. Now that same MGNREGA—by the way, I don’t mean to keep talking about Bengal but what can I do—Bengal is number one in. I am happy, I am going to say it. Now what has happened? Now MGNREGA is good, though there are still issues of late payment of wages and insufficient budgetary allocations.
Seven, this government has failed India’s women, this government has failed India’s children. This is not empty rhetoric.
The national neonatal mortality rate is 22, for Gujarat, it is 21, whereas for Bengal it is 15.5. The lower the figure, the better.
For infant mortality rate, the national average is 28, for Gujarat it is 31, whereas for Bengal, it is 22.
For under-5 mortality rate, the national average is 34, for Gujarat, it is 37, whereas for Bengal, it is 25.
Don’t sell us this fake Gujarat model. You can go through all parameters, but you would still find that the Gujarat model is totally fake.
Another fact: For School textbook distribution, coverage is 99.7 per cent Bengal and 81 per cent in Maharashtra.
This is not flowery stuff which will make the 9 o’clock headlines. These are hard numbers which this country needs to know. I am not speaking in Bengali today, why? Most people in Bengal already know these numbers, that is why it will happen again in April-May.
Increase in crimes against women: On the floor of Parliament, let me say this: As per 2018-19 figures, the national average is 20 per cent, Bihar is +21 per cent, Rajasthan is +33 per cent, UP is +56 per cent and Haryana is +64 per cent. Who is ruling these states? Whereas, in the only state ruled by a woman chief minister, the number is minus 21 per cent. Bengal, Mamata Banerjee and the people of Bengal.
Sir, I will now speak on one more subject, which is close to your heart. Women’s Reservation Bill. The Prime Minister is coming on Monday, bringing the Women’s Reservation Bill. Do not table it in Lok Sabha because again it will get lapsed. Bring it here.
But Trinamool Congress does not need the Women’s Reservation Bill. Guess why? The world average for women MPs in Parliament is 25 per cent, but the national average is only 13 per cent. For the BJP it is about 10 or 11 per cent. By the way, this is not for giving tickets to women, this is about elected women MPs. But for Trinamool Congress, the figure is close to 40 per cent—41 per cent in Lok Sabha and 31 per cent in Rajya Sabha. Big bhashans, you know, some catchy phrases. As we say “Agey Dilli shamla, tarpor bhabish Bangla”. It basically means first take care of Delhi and only then think about Bengal.
This Government has failed the economy even before the pandemic. Do not make the pandemic the excuse. I forgot who got up and said, and my Hindi is not good, neither can I read from a teleprompter. So I will just paraphrase it: Give me 50 days and then do whatever you want to me. He said it. And what did she say within two hours of the demonetisation announcement, it is on record: WITHDRAW THIS DRACONIAN DECISION. She with the chappals said this.
Demonetisation failed every single objective – be it black money, be it demonetised currency. I have a lovely figure here. A total of Rs 9 crore worth fake currency was caught—and we keep saying Gujarat is never number one but here Gujarat is number one. I have a lot of friends in Gujarat because Dinesh da makes the best dhoklas, and dhoklas are also from Gujarat. So we have a lot of love and respect for the people of Gujarat. But this is the reality.
Some newbie came and told us about Jammu and Kashmir, I wish him well. After demonetisation, terrorism was supposed to stop. These are the numbers from the Government of India: 2016 – 322, 2017 – 342, 2018 – 614. What did you tell us? And it is interesting. I remember that, just after that Mamata di came to Delhi and said we will walk to Rashtrapati Bhavan and go and submit a memorandum—and I am saying this with all respect to all the opposition parties here—some of us told her, Didi, but nobody is walking with us, only two parties have agreed.
Which two? So we said, Omar Abdullah is coming down from Kashmir, he’s from the National Conference, and Shiv Sena. So that was the combination who walked from here to Rashtrapati Bhavan for demonetisation. And after that, everyone in the opposition joined. This is not about one-upmanship, but this is what it is.
Sir, this government (point number 9) has failed to protect and safeguard the legacy of India’s jewels. I break away now Sir, this is the 100th year of Satyajit Ray and based on a story by Munshi Premchand, he made a fabulous film, his first film in Hindi, Shatranj Ke Khiladi. You’ve seen it, Sir? Do watch it. I don’t know whether it’s on Netflix, but do watch it. It tells a story of two noblemen completely engrossed in a game of chess while their entire state is going to ruin. People are angry, people are upset, people are committing suicide, but they are engrossed in this game of chess, and Sir—I may be bit biased because I’m from Bengal—so many people believe that Satyajit Ray was a visionary; this film was made, I think, in the ’70s.
He was a visionary, Sir. Because a lot of buying and selling is happening, Sir. Twenty-three PSUs are being sold. We are selling the nation’s gems. But the buying and the selling is happening, Sir. We are seeing it everywhere—MPs, MLAs. These public sector undertakings are about job creation, social welfare and the overall economic growth. But we are selling the family jewels.
Then, about the 74 per cent FDI in insurance. Sometimes I don’t get too surprised, when the two people who spoke from this side (left), who were once this side also (right), 74% in insurance! The All India Trinamool Congress has opposed it from day one. We opposed this from day one. But often it becomes that the stand you take depends on where you sit.
The same with GST. Look at the track record of GST as the chief minister of Gujarat. We are all for GST, and we warned you that don’t rush the implementation of GST.
Sir, what have they done so far? They’ve failed to uphold the sanctity of Parliament, they have failed India’s farmers, they have failed India’s COVID preparation, they have failed to strengthen the federal structure, they have failed India’s youth, they have failed India’s women, they have failed India’s jobs, they have failed India’s economy, they have failed to protect the legacy of those jewels.
They have also failed the Indian media. And here I want to salute the frontline workers, the young boys and girls who are reporters, who do not belong to any big corporate media houses, who are still fighting their battles. You can intimidate or threaten the media barons, you cannot intimidate or threaten these young boys and girls and from Parliament, we want to tell you, we will do all it takes, with all humility, to be with you in these difficult times.
Then, BARC is another story, how the ratings … but that’s another story, the time today is short. Who’s telling what, how, where. And when it comes to all these you know you can have debates. Fake news—who do you blame for fake news? This IT Cell of BJP? No! Why are you blaming all the wrong people? Blame the person who is responsible for it.
Listen to this, Sir, please, 2018 (translation in English, said in Hindi, I’ve got the video): “We are capable of delivering any message we want to the public, whether sweet or sour, true or fake. We can do this because we have 32 lakh people in our WhatsApp groups. Akhilesh Yadav slapped Mulayam ji? Yeh to ‘fake news’ hain. No, problem.”
Who said this? This is no IT troll, I was hoping he would be here, because I’m with Mamata di’s party; what we say, we say eye to eye, straight at your face. Amit Shah ji said this at a rally in Rajasthan.Sach ka jhooth, aur jhooth ka sach.
Sir, you have failed the people of India, different groups of people.
Citizenship Amendment Act: I got the figure here—19 lakh Bengali Hindus, repeat 19 lakh Bengali Hindus, in detention camps! Now you are taking one-and-a-half years and promising Matuas in Bengal citizenship! They are already citizens of Bengal. They are already citizens. I will tell you why. How can you be an elected MLA, if you are not a citizen? How can you be a minister in Bengal, if you are not a citizen? How can you be a BJP MP, already elected, if you are not an Indian citizen? Who are you trying to fool? You failed the citizens.
Scheduled castes, scheduled tribes: Crimes against scheduled castes—7 per cent increase since 2018. In Uttar Pradesh, the figure increased by 25 per cent, in Bihar, by 14 per cent. But in Bengal, and I am telling you on the floor of Parliament, it increased by just 0.3 per cent. Crimes against scheduled tribes—26 per cent increase since 2018. In Madhya Pradesh, the figure increased by 23.3 per cent, in Rajasthan, by 21.8 per cent, but in Bengal, only by 1.2 per cent.
Those were the points, Sir.
Now in conclusion, I must thank the President, Rashtrapati ji. He quoted the elder brother of Rabindranath Tagore and he quoted it perfectly. The Finance Minister, I must thank her, she quoted Rabindranath Tagore and she quoted it perfectly.
It’s another matter what the party people from here go and tell there (in Bengal). They are changing the birthplace of Rabindranath Tagore, they are saying he was born in Shantiniketan. This is not some small party worker, one of the two big guys.
Then, Birsa Munda statue—they go garland it, but it’s a wrong statue; Netaji (episode), you know, and one of the speakers from Bengal today was—he is a nominated MP and also the other speaker—invoking Sardar Patel and they want us to invoke history? If I start invoking history today, like I did in a lot of quizzes in the past, before I became a Trinamool MP … Today is February the 4th. History: On February 4, 1948, Sardar Patel banned the RSS. This is not unparliamentary. Now you make a statue, good. So don’t ask us to invoke history because we have a lot of history to invoke.
But now let’s come back to Tagore. Sir, I also have a Rabindranath story from school, if you allow me, because I had a lot of heavy data and so little to share, so I’m sharing a little school story, light-hearted. So, I was in class VII and I took part in a fancy dress contest, Sir. The music teacher was one judge and the Bengali teacher was the other judge and there were 44 students in the class. The teachers were there and I won the fancy dress competition. I went dressed as Rabindranath Tagore. I haven’t finished my story. Two weeks later, I got my Bengali literature paper results. The same lady was there, who gave me the first prize, and she gave me my Bengali literature paper. I got 14 out of 50. I said, Ma’am, what happened? She said, no, no, that was the fancy dress, this is the real thing. The school stories, Sir, are very beautiful stories. They make us feel nostalgic, don’t they, Sir?
Sir, Tagore had an outlook, which was ‘Biswa Bangla’—means ‘Bengal is Global’. That was his outlook, yes, he wrote fabulous stuff on humanism, humanity, but I’m not going there. But on Biswa Bangla, that is what the Bengal government has been trying to do in the last 10 years. In Bengal, you be Agarwal, you be Sharma, you be Chatterjee, you be D’Souza, but come, come to Bengal. You are working in Bengal, you are living in Bengal, you speak broken Bengali, all is good, because you are part of the global thing. But what we mean by outsider is, don’t come as a tourist gang, three-four months before the … that’s all.
I’m finishing with two quotes, Sir. I’m going to read a quote in the spirit of Biswa Bangla by Tagore.
মিথ্যে কথার ফুলঝুরিতে
চেষ্টা করছো নামাতে আর
ছুঁড়ে দিতে আবর্জনায়,
কিন্তু জেনো উঠবো জেগে
ধুলো থেকে স্বমহিমায়
Now, this is for our farmers and it is about the beauty of Tagore. The lines are in Bengali, but they were not written by Rabindranath Tagore. These lines were written by Maya Angelou, the famous and contemporary American poet. We translated them to Bengali. Now in English, for our farmers:
You may write me down in history,
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dust
But still, like dust, I shall rise.
I want to tell Harbhagwan Singh, who didn’t understand the English translation of Maya Angelou or the Bengali, I want to tell the farmers I’ve met (who Mamata di sent me there to meet, along with my colleagues) from Hoshiarpur, from Amritsar, Gurpal Singh ji from Hoshiarpur (sun rahe ho na?) and the farmers from Tarn Taran Sahib, and to every farmer across the country
Ye aap ki rozi roti ki baat hai.
Hum sab aap ke saath hain.
Jai Jawan. Jai Kisan.
Jai Hind. Joy Bangla!