Rajya Sabha

August 5, 2019

Derek O’Brien speaks on The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019 

Derek O’Brien speaks on The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019 


Sir, on some days we need to restate the very obvious and the very basics, but let me start by doing that. We love our motherland, we love our democracy, we love our Parliament, and we will do what it takes to fight for the integrity of the Parliament. We love the federalism which our Founding Fathers gave us, and in fact, the Founding Fathers would have thought this out in great detail and would have led us out of colonial rule and through our Independence. 

But today we have to start questioning the very basics because today is ‘Black Monday’. This is a dark day for parliamentary democracy, a dark day for federalism, a dark day for the Constitution, a dark day for the Rajya Sabha and a dark day for the idea of India. Sir, this is not rhetoric. Let me begin by telling you why it is a dark day for the Constitution.

Firstly, Sir, what happened this morning, the tearing up of our sacred book, was unnecessary. No one can condone that. But Sir, classroom basics first: Article 3 of the Constitution makes it very clear that ‘Parliament may by law form a new State by separation of territory from any State or by uniting two or more States or parts of States or by uniting any territory to a part of any State’, and it goes on. Sometimes when we read the Constitution it becomes very clear. What happened today? President’s Rule was imposed; through the presidential route you rewrite the State. This is basically what happened today. 

I will get to the way how even Parliament was hoodwinked and made a mockery of. Basically this is what has happened. The Constitution has been sadly either forgotten conveniently or thrown into the dustbin. Before I proceed I would like to sincerely appeal through you, Sir, to my friends in the parties with strong regional presence, be in Odisha or Telangana or Tamil Nadu or Andhra Pradesh or Bihar or anywhere else. What this Bill basically means is, apply President’s Rule on a State, then you dissolve the House, then you bring presidential proclamation, then in the morning you do this and then you pass it. So Bengal can become four states, Odisha, what number, what’s your lucky number, okay seven? Make it seven States or worse still you make it a Union Territory. This is the big issue – how, this morning, we made a complete mockery of the Constitution. Article 3! I want the young India, I want the students in classrooms around India, I want the students in colleges around India, to go home this evening and read Article 3, and to realise what the BJP has done to them today. And it saddens me to think that it is not the BJP alone, they have some people with them as well.

 Now let’s come to the mockery of Parliament. Thank you Sir. At least now I get to make the point I would like to make, that I couldn’t make in the morning, about a very simple rule. The rule is this: Sir, check the timing when this happened as it is very important. Today what we saw was a mockery of Parliament. Let me tell you about Rule 29, which deals with the List of Business. I’m saying this with all the responsibility at my command. At 11.07am, the Home Minister moved a Resolution on all the three Bills which we are discussing, as the LOP mentioned. I tried to raise the issue at 11.20 in the morning that the revised List of Business reached the Members at 11.18. 

What are we doing to this glorious institution? You first move a resolution, and then you give us the Revised Business, then as Supplementary which was supposed to be given earlier. Give it to us at least one minute before; we have forgotten about two days. We are supposed to get everything two days before but we have forgotten about it. Now we have to be ready for some crumbs that they throw at us. But no Sir, no crumbs, we will fight this, we will fight this every day in Parliament and outside.

 Let’s talk about federalism, Sir. Don’t believe what Trinamool Congress says or what any other party says. Believe what Dr Ambedkar says. And Dr Ambedkar has said more than once that the heart of our Constitution is federal. And only in times of extremity do we look at it through the lens of unity. It is very clearly mentioned in the Constitution. ‘India, that is Bharat, is a Union of States’. 

Now I would be told Sir, how else could we have done this? It had to be done at the stealth of night. The Parliamentary Affairs Minister was sending SMSs to leaders of parties last night reconfirming the List of Business today. I’m not saying you can’t do that but don’t play these games. This is Parliament. Someone called it a dirty game. I don’t even call it a dirty game, this is cheap stuff. Cheap stuff. Sir, you have to make this big decision You subverted the Constitution, you have applied all kinds of pressure here, there, and everyday one member from here will go and join you. Sir, did you ever think that, for big issues like these, you could have called an all-political party meet? Could you have done something? We are all for national interest; first national interest and then State interest. So don’t lecture out on this, otherwise I will give you the history of 1947 and people will not like that. I don’t want to go there today because the time is very limited. State issue, federal issue and national issue. 

And when these things happen, one has to look beyond Parliament and beyond the tamed television channels and tamed media owners to.what is happening in social media. This morning, in the social media, the right wing is calling this as the final solution. Sir, the final solution – what does that mean? In 1942, this was the Nazi plan for genocide, the code named to murder the Jews was called the final solution. What are we witnessing today on August 5, 2019? 

Sir, I want to take you back to Parliament on January 3 this year. The then Home Minister, Rajnath Singh ji assured the Rajya Sabha that all is well – bring on the elections. In Parliament, we are waiting for the EC. June 29, not very long ago, the present Home Minister also in Parliament. Sir, there is a very important date here, March 10 – Parliamentary elections were announced. On March 11, the EC appointed three observers for Jammu and Kashmir. Now tell me what those three EC observers said? They said on April 15 to the EC that the situation is conducive to hold elections immediately after the Lok Sabha polls. No political party said this, the three observers said this. And I know, which is predictable now, the answer we hear: ‘EC, hum logon ko EC se kuch lena dena nahin hain’. But we all know what is happening. 

Sir, also through you, I am appealing to my three friends from the Aam Aadmi Party. They have dealt with a Lieutenant Governor for a very long time. For god’s sake, please don’t get into another Lieutenant Government, please oppose this legislation. 

Sir, I’ll conclude by paraphrasing three or four sentences which summarises this day – beyond the legality, beyond the mockery of the institution of Parliament. I don’t know whether it is anger or disappointment, or all rolled into one. But this is the truth, and that’s why the Trinamool stands here. It’s a paraphrase, Sir. First, they came for the Dalits, and I said I am not a Dalit, so I didn’t stand up. Then they came for the oppressed, and I said I am not an oppressed, so I didn’t stand up. Today, they came for the Kashmiris, and I said I am not a Kashmiri, so I won’t stand up. No Sir, we will stand up, because then when they come for me there will be no one to stand up for me. Thank you Sir.