December 12, 2019
Derek O’Brien speaks on The Constitution (126th Amendment) Bill, 2019
Sir, I have lost my voice today, not metaphorically.
The Government is extending the SC/ST reservations by 10 years. This happened in 1959, 1969, 1979, 1989, 1999 and 2009. It has happened six times before and we welcome it with open arms. We only wish from the All India Trinamool Congress, why 10 years, make it 20 years and we will be with you. Make it 30 years, we will be with you. Bring the amendment.
You are doing all of this here but in Bengal for the last one week you are humiliating the SCs and the SCTs because we had wanted to pass in the Assembly, the SC/ST Commission Bill. The highest constitutional authority there has not yet signed on the Bill.
Now, for the next nine or 10 minutes because I don’t need a certificate from anybody. The National Commission for Scheduled Castes has made Bengal the role model. Enough said. If the other states follow the role model for the welfare of SC/ST, we will all be doing well. This is the National Commission for Scheduled Castes.
I am on something else today. We will all support this Bill. What else is happening here? What is in this Bill? What has been left out? Is it devious? Is it diabolical? Is it deceitful? You are not putting something in this Bill, I will withdraw whatever I say if you try and find a constitutional way to keep the other two provisions, because otherwise, we will know the mask is off.
Please do not pit minorities versus minorities. We cannot bring an amendment to this. If we want to, then you will say ‘we are against SC/ST’. Don’t give us sanctimonious lectures about being against SC/ST. Don’t give us lectures on persecution in neighbouring countries. Look what is happening here, in the north-east! The MPs are not allowed to say that the north-east in burning. Jammu and Kashmir is shut down. Muslims, Bengali Hinuds, Christians; 14 days from now we were told it is not Christmas Day but it is ‘Good Governance Day’.
Now let’s come to the specific issues of why this has been left out; because as the Minister admitted today himself that if a community is ‘’pichde huye’… Of course the Anglo-Indians have never been a backward community; we have always been a forward community. And by the way, this is the first time in 15 years of public life, I am speaking publicly as an Anglo-Indian. I have never done that, nor have I come to the House as and Anglo-Indian MP.
The Anglo-Indian community is a small one of 3.5 lakhs. If the Minister lays on the table with his reply that we are 295, please let him lay on the table, I would appreciate it. We are a small community with a big influence because we run the best schools in the country where lakhs and lakhs and lakhs of people go.
Now, let’s look at some other numbers. You have said there are 297, fine I will take your figure. You have said zero in Uttarakhand, zero in Jharkhand, zero in Madhya Pradesh. Then I have to challenge the BJP on how did they nominate four Anglo-Indian MLAs there, when there are zero? It is illegal! Give me the answer to this.
You are not going to renew these two MPs, you are not going to renew the 13 state MLAs, fine, but you are also denying the community as a result of this – Rs 1300 crore, because these MPs and MLAs would use this money. According to him it is 297, according to the community – and then we will go to the Supreme Court – 3-lakh plus.
Let’s come to vote bank; who talks about vote bank? They keep talking about vote bank. They are shameless. Vote bank. No Sir, not about SC/STs. Don’t give us sanctimonious lectures. Does Mamata Banerjee have to do vote bank politics to send one silly Anglo-Indian to Parliament? Only one has been elected, only one. Not for vote bank, because she believes in the Constitution of India. Everyone is eligible.
I’m happy to say Sir, with humility, only one Anglo-Indian in 72 years has been elected. Who made it possible? Mamata Banerjee. And for those Christians, who are going dabbling around with the BJP, this is the reward you will get. Whether you are Christian, whether you are Muslim, whether you are minority, whether you are a Bengali-Hindu or a minority.
This is all big talk, telling us about stories outside. I don’t want to get into stories. Sir, I’m on the Bill. I don’t want to waste time talking about yesterday because Anglo-Indians are not yesterday.
Everybody knows the story of an engine driver of Bombay-Howrah Mail in the 1960s. He kept running the train, he saved everyone’s lives but he died. He did not look to see who the passengers were. Hindus, Muslims – everybody was there, but Percy Carol died. That’s one story.
Look at the Indo-Pak war. Endless stories. Three Param Vir Chakras in two weeks. At the Republic Day parade on January 26, 2019, we were all there. The Pradhan Mantri, Raksha Mantri everyone was there. Who was leading the ‘Fly Past’? Group Captain Elvis. Anglo-Indian, Sir. One of the 296.
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Now let us give you some history. In 1947, when the British left, because the Bengali freedom fighters fought the hardest for that, the Constituent Assembly had Frank Anthony. They offered the Anglo-Indians, whatever the number, go to Andaman Islands, will make that into a territory. And the community said, no, we are a small community, we are a gallant community, we don’t want Andaman Islands. We want to be a part of India. That was the commitment made.
And what did Frank Anthony say? Beautiful lines. This was the great Constituent Assembly member. He told his community, “the more we love and are loyal to India, the more India will love and be loyal to you”.
Sir, one more big contribution. Today, with Mr Bachchan and Siddharth Basu, quizzing has become very big. Twenty years after independence, Anglo-Indians gave quizzing and general knowledge, they brought it to India. In 1967, my father Neil O’Brien did the first open quiz. Today I speak with a sore throat, but my mother and father, Neil and Joyce, are giving me the strength.
Sir, this is a quiz question: Which is the only community with the word ‘Indian’ in its name? Anglo Indian!
Sir, you can take away 13 Assembly seats. You can take away two MP seats. Le lo. But you can never take away Indian from the Anglo-Indian.
Sir, this is not about Anglo-Indian; this is about a much bigger issue here. Yesterday, the Citizenship Amendment Bill, left out what it didn’t say, it left out. That is where the danger is. I made a little mistake yesterday because I think I said something a little wrong. I started comparing the Nazi copy book to the current dispensation and I think I got it wrong because it is an insult to the Nazi copy book. Also, this is getting far ahead.
Sir, I want to end now by saying, by urging the minister, make it not ten years for SC/ST, make it twenty years, make it thirty years. You can not bring an Ordinance now. They have brought this Bill on the last day of legislation, so no chance of an Ordinance. Sir, we know the rules. So, there is no chance of an Ordinance coming. So, the reservation is gone. If the motive is not devious, if the motive is not diabolical, you please bring a Constitutional Amendment when Parliament comes into session.
On behalf of my community, and not Trinamool Congress, because I have spoken as a Trinamool Congress MP, when these things happen to any community, when you are betrayed once in ‘47, you stayed back, today many in the community are feeling betrayed.
But Sir, we are a small but gallant community. Today on behalf of this community, I want to re-dedicate ourselves to the only book we know and we shall ever know and I will do it in truly Anglo Indian style which is a kiss.
(Kisses the Constitution)
Thank you, Sir.