Rajya Sabha

February 7, 2018

Derek O’Brien speaks on the Motion of Address on the President’s Address

Derek O’Brien speaks on the Motion of Address on the President’s Address


BLACKED OUT PORTION (IN ITALICS – first seven paragraphs)

Sir, I stand here to speak on the Motion of Thanks for the President’s address on behalf of my party, The All India Trinamool Congress. The honourable Rashtrapati Ji  made two speeches, one in the Central Hall of Parliament and one on Republic Day, which  many of us may have missed. As we know the speech made in Central Hall is the government-approved speech.  

I want to dwell first on two of the points he raised on Republic Day. This is what the honourable Rashtrapati Ji  said, ‘Institutions should be disciplined and morally upright and they are always more important than individuals in office’. I only wish this was also said in Central Hall. That would have been a strong message, at the right place.

The second thing he said at the Republic Day speech, ‘Institutions are more important than individuals’. I want to pass this message on from the Rashtrapati , in this House and all of us, to the people concerned here. These are the two important sentences.

Sir, I am very tempted today after hearing the gentleman who made the maiden speech, the BJP President. I thought he was making a maiden speech and he will rise above politics but he ended up doing another election maidan speech. I will restrain myself from doing that but I hope that after this is anybody from the BJP speaks in this House, they will respond to the five suggestions I give them to run this country better on schemes.

The two suggestions the Trinamool Congress gives them to run this country better beyond the schemes. No rhetoric, no pakoda talk. We all like pakoda, but the pakoda has nobody to defend itself.So let’s leave the pakoda out.

Five schemes Sir. My colleague who spoke before me touched on some very important issues and I will not repeat them. Simultaneous elections, it can’t happen as it is unconstitutional. Black money, we want a white paper… and institutions, and tolerance. So I will not speak on any of these, Sir. But I will speak on five first points – women, health agriculture, jobs, Swachh Bharat, federalism.

Women empowerment

First on women. Pointed scheme- ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’. Here are the numbers. Sir, the numbers for the scheme are very interesting: Rs 280 crore, this year for the whole country. If we add the allocations for the last few years it comes to Rs 1000-1200 crores. Use the example of (I hope-no politics) Kanyashree. For the last four and half years the budget is Rs 5000 crore. Number two- how many lives did Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ touch? I don’t know, there are no numbers, may be 50,000 or 1 lakh.

Here is the number for Kanyashree – 45 lakh girls. Their lives have been changed. The marriage age has gone up and the infant mortality rate has dropped. These are the real numbers of real schemes. Look at the Kanyashree scheme. The United Nations has acknowledged the scheme. Do not do politics by pitting Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, giving only Rs 280 crores. This is the first example. They can learn from this scheme, may be from another scheme ‘Ruposhree’, which Bengal has started without doing politics.

Sir, 70 thousand to 1 lakh women die every year because of cervical cancer. Why hasn’t this government address this issue? I will tell you why, because the RSS’s economic wing wrote to the Health Ministry, please check the letter, saying that this should not be done. Let us rise above this kind of thinking and let the doctors do their work.


I will brief you about the insurance scheme. I am giving you points and I hope whoever will speak from BJP will answer these five points.

You have allocated Rs 2,000 crore for the NHPS. I will give you the benefit of the doubt and I will also add the RSBY which they’d probably do; make it together you will get Rs 4,000 crore. The annual premium will be brought to Rs 1,200 crore. This is a fraud scheme, it has not been thought out. It has just been announced. Rather you look at the States, like my State or some other may be. We offer a premium of Rs 1,200 per family and you only make grand announcements.

And worse still, you make the grand announcement and then you say, without discussing with anybody, 40 paise to the rupee would have to be paid by the states. These schemes don’t work, they are just announcements.


Two quick points on agriculture. It is very nice to go to an election rally in Karnataka and sound TOP – tomato, onion, potato. This from the Prime Minister of a country? This is not a college debate. Come to the hard numbers. The BJP Manifesto said in 2014 that they will double farmers’ income. The Trinamool Manifesto in 2011 said we will double farmers’ income. The BJP will make it happen in 2022. The Trinamool made it happen in 2016. I’ll give you two numbers.

In 2011, Rs 93,000 per annum was the farmers’ income after deducting all expenditures. Now that number has gone up to Rs 2.39 lakh. Therefore, in six years incomes have doubled. No promises, without keeping promises.

Now about irrigation. You look at the President’s Address and the Budget – you look at the numbers together. Water is a major issue. Forth-five per cent of the farmland is not irrigated. And yet what do you do? You put Rs 300 crore for irrigation. If you calculate, it will take you 96 years beyond 2022 to reach your target. I challenge the Prime Minister to challenge my figures.


Come to jobs. On this a lot of people have spoken; I just want to add one more point. The National Career Services Portal, launched by Modi – two in 100 people who registered got a job.

Swachh Bharat

My colleague, Manish Gupta made a very nice point about manual scavengers. Besides the manual scavengers, there’s a story from Odisha, of Chhotu Rautia, a 50-year-old daily wage worker, a tribal. After he applied for the PM’s Awas Yojana, the officials finally turned his Swachh Bharat toilet into his home.

This is the reality of this programme. I am not speaking big talk here. Even when the entire Swachh Bharat was done, guess which district was number one? From Bengal, it is Nadia.


Operative federalism, cooperative federalism… few points on federalism. Sir, we made an issue yesterday about a high constitutional authority, who is running States because the headquarters are coming and giving messages. I do not want to dwell more on this issue; we have spoken enough on this yesterday.


Sir, in the limited time I want to make one point over Railways. The BJP will give us big talks… no separate railway budget, i is all politicised etc. I want to cite some numbers, which I up till late night calculating. BJP states in the Railway Budget, that is why there is no Budget speech, Uttarakhand got an increase in Budget 160%, Rajasthan got an increase of 30%, Gujarat got an increase of 20%, Madhya Pradesh 18%. Dispute these numbers.

Now you contrast that with Delhi, Kerala and West Bengal – they did not get plus, they got minus 40, minus 30 and minus 15. They are only talking about federalism.

Police Modernisation

The first speaker of the BJP, Mr Amit Shah, gave us a lecture on police modernisation. That when it’s police modernisation, it is always BJP. What is he talking about? What is he talking about? I will tell you the police modernisation numbers. Someone from the BJP should come back and contradict these numbers I am giving.

2014 modernisation of police force: Rs 1,600 crore, then, 2014-2015: Rs 1,400 crore. This year it is ZERO. I know my friend Jayant Sinha is here and trying to dispute some of the figures but we also heard his speech. There is an old saying about ‘papa kehete hain’, but we will come back to that later.

BRGF is another one such project.

Central funds

This government talks about federalism, they advertise about federalism, here are two numbers. Thirty nine major schemes, centrally-funded schemes have been withdrawn. For 58 important schemes, the state contribution has been increased and the central government’s share has gone down. What was the BJP doing here in their proposal of the motion? They are blaming somebody – pachpan (55) saal mein aapne kiya, toh hum log kiya… 48 percent… Gujarat mein hum log… this is the poll numbers… What are we doing? Rise above politics! Come to Parliament, make suggestions whether you are in Opposition or in Government. That is why I have stayed away from politics and only stayed on these numbers.  

Data and Aadhaar

Sir, I would like to quote the Prime Minister at Davos. He said this, “Whoever controls data is the most powerful and can shape the world”. Remember, Aadhaar. This is a dangerous line, think about it. And think about Aadhaar.

False claims

Sir, I don’t want to say anything about false claims because we can write a book now on false claims. The first seaplane ride, the first Ro-Ro ride; I don’t want to go there, Sir.


I am very interested in the year 2022. There is a scientist who predicted that a man will go to Mars by 2022. I believe the scientist. But for all the criticism we Opposition do to this BJP Government, we should also congratulate them once in a day.

And I want to congratulate them, because by 2022, the Oxford English dictionary will have a new word. And that word will be defined as, make a promise, make a lot of hype around that promise, don’t deliver the promise. And India has given many words to the Oxford English Dictionary; good words: hartal, tamasha, khushi. The new word will come in 2022, Sir, and we must all work towards it, and it’s jumla.

In conclusion

Sir, in all this, I see hope and I will tell you where I see hope. I see hope when I study the character of Mahishasura. Mahishasura was all evil. He was all negative. He also felt that no man could defeat him, so he kept changing his form and he forgot what he was. It took all the good forces to come together in the shape of a woman to finish him once and forever.

So that is my hope in this country. Thank you, Sir.