Rajya Sabha

July 1, 2019

Derek O’Brien speaks on The Jammu & Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2019

Derek O’Brien speaks on The Jammu & Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2019


Sir, today is a sad day. This morning, again in bus accident in Jammu & Kashmir in a gauge, 33 people lost their lives. Last week approximately 21 people lost their lives. These accidents keep happening and all of us, we tweet our condolences. The government of the day offers a package and then we get ready for the next accident and then life goes on. All of us need to work towards reducing these kinds of accidents, so that families don’t have to grieve like they are grieving today. 

Sir, two quick pints before I get into the resolution and the Bill; whenever I go to Jammu & Kashmir I am always requested that whenever you speak about Jammu & Kashmir, charcha jab hota hai, Ladakh aur Leh ka naam aap please lijiye Parliament mein.  So that is what we will all do. 

Sir, another quick point before we get to the meat of the debate. Sir, as Opposition members we always feel that when senior ministers come and respond to us, some of the points we raise maybe responded to because then we feel its a two-way debate. So, that is my request to the Home Minister today as well; because we raised, as an Opposition, some important points in the Motion of Thanks. One was on the Women’s Reservation Bill. Sir we didn’t get an answer. On the breakdown of institutions we didn’t get an answer. On electoral reforms, I’m a little more hopeful because the Prime Minister discussed it in his speech and now I am told that the Rajya Sabha is taking it up as a discussion on at least electoral reforms, especially the state funding of elections and the collegiums which must be set up for the EC. And, of course, federalism.

I am very hopeful that the Hon’ble Home Minister will answer some of these questions, because I remember on the May 17, 2019, he did have a historic press conference where he answered some questions on behalf of the Prime Minister. 

Sir, the Prime Minister talks to us about ‘One Nation, One Election’, one of the electoral reforms and many speakers before this have also brought it up. If you are having the parliament election, why didn’t you have the state election? Same booth, same time of the year, everything is the same. In fact, Rajnath Ji assured this House in January, “if the EC wants to have, we will have it”. Hon’ble Home Minister in the Lok Sabha said again, “if the EC wants to have it, we will have it”. On March 10, 2019 the elections were announced. On March 11, 2019 the EC appointed three observers. The House must know this, Sir, for Jammu & Kashmir. On April 15, 2019 these three observers of the EC submitted a report and in that report which was submitted by the EC it was said that it was conducive to polls. 

My party will support this resolution to have elections because we do believe that if this spirit of April 15, their observation, is taken, then in six months along with the other States, we should have polls. Let us not pass the buck to the EC because I don’t want to discuss the EC because there iss Rule 238 and we can discuss that matter. 

Sir, the second one, in the Other House, the Home Minister mentioned that three families have run the state of Jammu & Kashmir for the last 60 years. Yes, may be the HM would like to clarify in his reply that in the next 10 years, or 20 years, given an opportunity that his party will not touch any of the parties which are run by these three families. Let him give us an assurance on the floor of the House. Because his critics then might say, yes that for 60/70 years three families have run one state of Jammu & Kashmir but currently the nation is run by two families. 

My fourth point is regarding the Governor. This is another very important issue which I seek clarification on. Just after Pulwama, the Governor of the State of Jammu & Kashmir said, “Laparwahi huyi hain.” Kisne kiya yeh laparwahi? Who was responsible for this failure?

Sir even though I have to repeat that point again, in the last two years, out of 10 Bills passed, four were Ordinances. That number has to come down. Another Minister came and said last week, that we have to pass these Ordinances because the House was not running. You can not imply that the opposition is disrupting the House. The Government has to run the House with the Opposition. 

Now, Sir, come to the next point, which is Article 1 of the Constitution. “India that is Bharat is a Union of States”. Sir, now, on federalism, because the extension President’s Rule, affects the power of the State. Sir, with your permission I would speak for the next few minutes in Bangla.

এই যাকে আমরা বলি Federalism, যুক্তরাষ্ট্রীয় কাঠামো, এটাই সংবিধানের Spirit. জম্মু ও কাশ্মীর হোক, This is the core of federalism and since we have the Home Minister here, Sir, আম্বেদকরজী বলেছেন, আমি বলিনি, কংগ্রেস বলেনি, বিজেপি বলেনি, আম্বেদকর যেটা বুঝিয়েছেন, যখন যুদ্ধ হচ্ছে না, তখন সংবিধান হচ্ছে unitary. That means, only in times of war, the Constitution is unitary. Otherwise, Sir, it is federal in nature rest of the time. Centre must have hands off the State. কিন্তু, Sir, আজকে আমি স্বরাষ্ট্রমন্ত্রীকে জানাতে চাই, এই Federal spirit কাশ্মীর হোক, বাংলা হোক, উত্তর প্রদেশ হোক, কেরল হোক, বিহার হোক, মধ্যপ্রদেশ হোক, আপনি সাতদিনে বাংলায় দুটো অ্যাডভাইসরি পাঠিয়েছেন, আপনি কিন্তু উত্তর প্রদেশে কোনও অ্যাডভাইসরি পাঠাননি ওখানে ২৫ জন মারা যায়, বিহারে ১৩০ জন মারা যায়, আপনি কোনও অ্যাডভাইসরি পাঠাননি। Sir, the essence of Kashmir is exactly this. To leave the states alone.

Sir, this is a council of States so allow me to use examples of my State to make my point. 

কিছুক্ষণ আগে এখানে বিজেপির থেকে যিনি বললেন যে আমি কোনও রাজনীতি করব না, তারপরে কংগ্রেসকে ঠুকে দিলেন ৫০ বছরের জন্য। কংগ্রেস কংগ্রেস করলেন। আমি এখানে রাজনীতি করছি না, বাস্তব বলছি। দুদিন আগে বিজেপির বড় বড় বাংলার নেতা কি বললেন? “আপনার জন্য অনেক কিছু অপেক্ষা করছে। সংসদ চলছে বলে এখন নখ দাঁতগুলো দেখতে পাচ্ছেন না।”

I urge The Home Minister that he is not only BJP’s Home Minister, he is the Home Minister of all the States in India. Sir, what you say in an election campaign 

স্বরাষ্ট্রমন্ত্রী যেই হোন, তাঁকে শ্রদ্ধা করি, করতেই হবে। প্রধানমন্ত্রীকেও করতেই হবে। এটা আমাদের পরম্পরা। উনি বাংলায় এসে বলেছেন বাংলায় নাকি দুর্গাপুজো করতে দেওয়া হয়না। সরস্বতী পুজো করতে দেওয়া হয় না। বাংলায় ২৭ হাজার দুর্গাপুজো হয়, বড় করে বিসর্জন হয়, বাংলায় অনেক কিছু হয়। গঙ্গাসাগর মেলাও হয়। 

Sir, you are asking me why. I also don’t want to do Hindu and Muslim; they are all Indian citizens. Now, let me tell you about the second Bill you all bringing for the international border. There also we from the Trinamool Congress are supporting the Government, because we believe Indian citizens must be given all the benefits and rights. In UP, support the 125 families who were forced to leave because of harassment; a BJP leader has only complained about this. So I ask this government, through you, to support them. Why do you want to leave them out just because they are Hindus or Muslims? 

Sir, the NRC affects 23 lakh Bengali Hindus. Bengali Hindus are committing suicide in the Assam detention camps; support them also. 

Sir, if people want to look at Kashmir through the prism of Kashmir and not through the prism of Constitution of India and try and heckle me in the middle of my speech, I won’t stop. 

Five Hindu Bengalis were shot in Dibrugarh; a delegation of Trinamool lawmakers went to see them. Sir, why is the government targeting Indian citizens through NRC, be them a large number of Hindus and Bengalis?

Sir, my last two points before I finish. Sir, this is called the Council of States, if we as representatives of different states, are going to be told every 90 seconds ‘why are you discussing your state’ then tell us; we will start discussing the Union of India. Ambedkar Ji said, it’s only in times of war do we look at this Constitution as unitary. Rest of the time, it is federal.

Sir, Amit Shah Ji spent two days in Jammu and Kashmir as the Home Minister of India. I have got the diary, as reported in the Media. On the first day whatever he did and the first two hours of the second day whatever he did. It was all development package; everything which the Home Minister of India needed to do. Eighty thousand crore is a good figure but Rs 80,000 crore or even Rs 180,000 crore, Sir, can’t heal hearts. That’s a different kind of healing which is needed.

Our Hon’ Home Minister on the first one and a half days played the role of a Home Minster but on that second day when those cheques were distributed, those were given to BJP workers who were killed. PDP workers were killed, NC workers were also killed. As I said, he is not the Home Minister, but the BJP President as well. But at times like this, Sir and no talks with any political parties <interruptions>

Sir, let me then end with a true story. When I was in Jammu and Kashmir, as part of the Parliamentary Committee, we went to buy some kurtis. There we met a tailor and his son was there. So, I was asking him and trying to understand. I said what is the problem (this was one year ago) and how can we solve it. He said, “Jab tak Jammu and Kashmir tanav main rehega, uska faida ek political party ko baki 28 rajya main milta rehega. 

Very interesting point he said, Sir.