Rajya Sabha

February 2, 2017

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

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

Sir, before I make any points on the President’s address on the Motion of Thanks, I would like to sincerely start with an appreciation for our Hon. Rashtrapati ji. From the time he was a Political Science Professor in Vidyasagar College in South 24 Parganas. Now, 52 years later, he is our Hon’ble Rashtrapati Ji with the wealth of experience. We wish him happiness, and we wish him health and good luck in whatever he does, because as we know this is the last time he addressed the Joint Session of the Parliament in this term.

Sir, the Speaker who moved the motion on behalf of the Government, started off with some yoga, and after that he went on to tell us some wonderful stories about little known people who had won the Padma Shree and how the Government had found the people and had awarded them. They are not celebrities; they are the kind of unknown people who have done good work. In that same tone, I wish to enlighten this house about few more unknown people with three or, four little stories before I get down to the meat of mine speech.

  1. Odisha – Sudarsin Surin lives in Marangabahal village in Odisha. When his two year old son fell ill he took him on his bicycle and rode 7km to reach Meghapal hospital. On reaching there, the doctors advised Surin to take his child to Sambalpurhospital which was another 40km away from Meghapal, as the condition of the baby deteriorated. He asked auto-rickshaw drivers to take him there but they refused as he only had Rs 500 notes with him. After three hours, the two-year old baby succumbed to his illness.
  2. Andhra Pradesh – Komali (18 month old baby) – Parents didn’t have money to buy medicines. Private hospital refused to accept old currency notes.
  3. Uttar Pradesh – Suresh (18) — B.sc second year student hanged himself as he could not withdraw money from bank to pay his college examination fees
  4. Noel Topno (52) – Chief manager of a Central Bank of India branch, lost consciousness and died of suspected cardiac arrest while working.
  • Did you acknowledge these deaths?
  • Did you express condolences for these deaths?
  • What did you do to prevent further deaths?
  • What measures did you take to help those in distress?
  • It can’t be business as usual when people are dying

     1. POLICY CHANGES: Para 55 on page 11 of the President’s Address refers to demonetisation in eight or nine lines.

      A. Withdrawal and deposit limits

  • The Finance called the government “a trusted custodian of public money”. One that does not allow public to withdraw own hard earned money.
  • Even today, the Government has not removed restrictions on withdrawal limits for savings accounts.

      B. Number of changes

  • Over 60 policy changes over a period of 50 days. Just tall promises.

      C. Sharing of statistics

  • Government has not shared statistics regarding the demonetised currency that has come back to the banks, counterfeit money that has been seized or the action taken against black money hoarders.

      2. The ECONOMIC SURVEY is a literary document.

  1. POLITICAL VENDETTA: On November 24, we said in Parliament:

Anyone who opposes your policy, Mr. Prime Minister Ji, is not for black money. Anyone who opposes your policy is not anti-national. Why are you giving us these lectures on corruption and black money? We opposed and we are opposing you because people are suffering, we are opposing you because we believe economy will be killed. Why are you making this an issue? The government thinks they are some messiah and all of us are devils.

Sir, I have to say one thing. Why are we fighting this battle? We will be fighting this battle on behalf of the people. I get the confidence and inspiration from MamtaDidi to say this, try as you may through your agencies to hassle and harass us, that will give us more conviction to fight you. Even try and put Mamta di in jail if you want. Try it, try it. We are fighting you on people’s issue.

  • 30 December 2016 my colleague Tapas Paul arrested
  • 3 January 2017 our leader in Lok Sabha Sudip Bandyopadhyay was arrested


  1. PHOTO MANTRI: Our belief from the Trinamool Congress is, at the core of this Government’s policy (of demonetisation) is the PM. Not the Hon’ble PM, but the PM. ‘PM’ means ‘Photo Mantri’.

      A. Mother

  • PM’s 96-year-old mother stands in bank line to swap her currency notes. Arrived in wheelchair, helped by two women. Photos are published – the PM indulges in being a Photo Mantri.
  • I would never let my 79 year old mother stand in a queue. But these are personal matters of mother-son relationship.

     B. Coldplay concert

  • PM made jokes on demonetization and ridiculed people standing in lines and suffering because of shortage of cash.

      C. Japan

  • PM was unsympathetic to the suffering caused by demonetization. In his speech, he bragged that he had full support of people.

     D. Khadi

  • KVIC (Khadi and Village Industries Commission) replaced the image of Gandhiji with Modi weaving khadi in a charkha on their calendar and diary. When Gandhi visited Britain, he met the Royal Family clad in his trademark khadi clothes.
  • In comparison, the suit Modi wore during Obama’s visit in 2015 had his name woven into it in gold pinstripes, and was later auctioned for Rs 4.31 crore.


  1. DE-MITRON-ISATION: Para 17 of the President’s Address deals with transforming the lives of farmers and the like. Sir, I have five or six very important points to make on this.

      A. Informal sector

  • Informal sector accounts for 45% of the GDP and nearly 80% of employment.
  • Unemployment increased to 7% in the weeks following demonetisation.
  • 25 crore daily wage workers lost employment

      B. Agriculture

  • Cooperative banks were not allowed to exchange demonetized notes.
  • No money to buy seeds or fertilizers or hire labour.
  • Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) prices dropped by
  • 40-50% since the high-value notes demonetization.

     C. Auto sales

  • 16 year low,
  • Sales reduced18.66% for four wheelers,
  • 8% reduction for two wheelers
  • zero sales for second hand cars.

     D. MSME (Para 8 of the President’s Address)

  • 50% decline in revenue
  • 35% job losses in MSME sector

     E. FMCG

  • 90% of transactions in kirana shops are in cash
  • 40% drop in FMCG sales

     F. MNREGA (Para 52 of the President’s Address)

  • In March 2015, the PM in Parliament said about MGNREGA:

          “Aazadike 60 saalkebaadaapko logon kogaddhekhodnekeliyebhejnapada”

  • Hike in demand for jobs was 60%.
  • Unprecedented reverse migration as unemployed workers returned to their villages

     G. Manufacturing

  • Sector growth contracted due to cash crunch
  1. BLACK MONEY: In para 55 of the President’s speech, the Finance Minister said, the Government is ‘a trusted custodian of public money.’

      A. Offshore accounts

  • Government has even refused to disclose the data on Indian citizens who hold large sums of money in foreign bank accounts.
  • No action taken on SIT recommendations.

      B. Money power

  • I must congratulate the President for using the term ‘money power’ in his speech.
  • TMC/Mamata Banerjee has always said that money power leads to muscle power in politics, which is dangerous for a democracy.
  • 65% of total funds of BJP from 2004 to 2015 crore came from unknown sources.

     C. Panama Papers

  • No mention of Panama Papers in the address
  • 2000 Indian individuals and entities named
  • 1,195 Indians have stashed around Rs. 25,000 crore in a single HSBC branch in Switzerland
  • Prescribe a time frame for prosecution of accused

     D. Non Performing Assets

  • Rs 6 lakh crores as at end March 2016
  • Now Rs 10,000 crores for bank recapitalisation

     E. Gold and Real Estate

  • Bulk of black money is in gold and real estate. Only 3-6% is held in cash
  • Notifications on gold in demonetisation were contradictory and incomprehensible
  • No reform in real estate
  1. WOMEN & CHILDREN: Para 23 talks a lot about women and children, because the Indian woman has truly progressed.

     A. Fertility Rate

  • In 1960, the average Indian woman was bearing nearly 6 children. This number plummeted to 2.6 children in 2010

     B. Kanyashree

  • Centre’s BetiBachaoBetiPadhao scheme has an allocation of only 200 crores
  • Bengal’s Kanyashree scheme has an allocation of 1000 crores

     C. Women’s Reservation

  • Bill has been pending since 2008.
  • Trinamool Congress has more than 33% female Members of Parliament.

     D. Neglect of children

  • Half of class 5 students in rural India cannot read at the class 2 leveleven.
  • This government promised us a new education policy in 2014, more than two and a half years ago years ago.
  • Important schemes like ICDS continue to be underfunded.


  1. COMMUNAL HARMONY: Para 37 talks about communal harmony, and both the speakers from the Government side, they were all praise, as they should be, for their Hon’ble Prime Minister for his track record on communal harmony for the last two-and-a-half years. But Atal Bihari Vajpayee had some serious things tpo say about the Prime Minister.

     A. AtalBihari Vajpayee, 2002

“I am distressed by the undignified controversy involving the chief electioncommissioner and the chief minister commissioner and the chief ministerof Gujarat in the context of the Assembly elections in Gujarat. Both arehigh Constitutional authorities and they must be given the respect that isdue. One may have differences over the decision or attendant observationsof the EC with regard to the assembly polls in Gujarat. There areconstitutional means to deal with such matters.”

     B. Hum Paanch speech

In September 2002, who delivered the Hum paanch, hamarepacheesspeech? Apparently, this speech made during the Gujarat GauravYatra wasso inflammatory that the National Commission for Minorities wanted a textof the speech.

The Gujarat Government had then conveniently claimed that it did not havea copy of the speech. He had said (in relation to Muslims living in reliefcamps as a result of the communal violence he had failed to prevent):

“So what should we do? Do we go and run relief camps? Should we openchild producing centres? Hum paanch, humaarepachees? Those who havegot no education, and got only religious education, would they not becomea burden on Gujarat?”

  1. DIGITAL INDIA: Digital India is one of my favourite subjects. It finds a mention in para 60 and both the speakers have spoken about it. I am on this medium for the last six years. I know this medium. Is this about Digital India? No. This is about divisive India.

     A. Trolls

  • In which democracy does the government attack its own citizens for holding divergent views with paid trolls?
  • 26 Twitter handles that routinely give out rape, death, communal threats followed by PM.
  • 2 handles suspended by Twitter for abuse BUT still followed by PM – @bhak_sala (Rahul Raj) and @MahavirM_
  • Many of these trolls were invited to 7 RCR and are referred to as “Digital Yodhas” by PM

B. Mainstreaming Hate

  • Digital India is one of my favourite subjects. It finds a mention in para 60 and both the speakers have spoken about it.
  • I am on this medium for the last six years. I know this medium.
  • Is this about Digital India? No. This is about divisive India. That would be very unfair.
  • The RSS is even worse when it comes to this kind of social hate-mongering on Twitter.
  • Sir, on the digital economy, now leave that digital part, I have made my point.

     B. Digital Economy

  • In choosing names you cannot beat this Govt – Start Up India, StandUp India, Tech India
  • 4 out of 5 villages don’t have banks
  • Only 6% of transactions are plastic
  • 80% of women don’t have bank accounts
  • Targets of National Optical Fiber Network have not been met
  1. After 2 years of drought, this year’s good monsoon ruined bydemonetisation. Farmers were unable to purchase inputs. Thequality of sowing has fallen. Agricultural yield will fall.
  2. The Kings of Good Times have had 7000 crores worth ofdebt written off. While our farmers are trapped in debt.
  3. Our jawans on the border can now book tickets online but stilldo not get proper meals.
  4. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) had estimated12,602 farmer suicides for 2015, the latest year under investigation, up by 3% from the previous year.

     11.COOPERATIVE FEDERALISM: Para 66 talks about cooperative federalism.

       A. GST

  • An example of cooperative federalism. States and Centre worked together.

     B. Railways

  • General budget has been used to mask deficiencies in rail budget
  • Freight earnings are lower than last year (last happened in 1978)
  • What the Finance Minister didn’t tell you is that for the last 68 years,expenditure on Railways has been borne by the Centre. However,the Railways have now set up joint ventures with 9 State Governments for construction and development of 70 projects.
  1. Jharkhand, 3 projects at a cost of Rs. 2150 Crore. Jharkhand owns51% equity in the JV.
  2. Odisha, 2 new railway line projects, Jeypore – Malkangiri 25% oftotal cost borne by Odisha and Jeypore – Nabarangpur entire landcost and 50% cost of construction borne by Odisha.
  • Kerala, introduction of suburban rail service between and setting up of rail coach factory.
  • What about other States? What about the debt-stressed states?

My appeal to my friends in the corporate world and the media who did not comment on demonetisation:

First they came for the Dalits, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Dalit.

Then they came for the daily wage worker, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a daily wage worker.

Then they came for the Muslims, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Muslim.

Then they came for the farmer, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a farmer.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.