Rajya Sabha

January 3, 2019

Trinamool’s Derek O’Brien speaks during a discussion on proclamation of President’s Rule in Jammu & Kashmir

Trinamool’s Derek O’Brien speaks during a discussion on proclamation of President’s Rule in Jammu & Kashmir


Sir, along with 25 colleagues of mine, Members of Parliament both from the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, I had the good fortune of spending a good four to five days on a parliamentary Standing Committee tour about four months ago.

The people made two requests to us. So I said, the next time I speak in Parliament we will try and keep both your requests. The first request is this: Jammu and Kashmir le ke charcha hota hain, lekin Ladakh aur Leh ka naam koi nahin leta. So please keep us in mind. So I kept my first promise. T

The second promise, I hope will also be kept, was a verbal promise. In the last two days I think we have seen parliamentary history being created. The Defence Minister is sitting down in one House while the Finance Minister speaks on Defence. The Home Minister is sitting down in this House while the Finance Minister speaks on Home.

There is a message here – there is a churn happening, and all political observers in Kashmir and around the country are watching this very clearly. And I was just hoping, since the Finance Minister has handled guest appearance for defence and guest appearance for home, I’ve got one suggestion.

My request is to the Finance Minister in his own department on behalf of the young people of Kashmir, the youth, the entrepreneurs and the tourist operators. The one thing they all told us is that tourism can be revived, but to revive tourism they need a break on GST. So since the Finance Minister is not here, maybe the Law Minister will convey to the Defence Minister who will then convey to the Finance Minister that this should be done.

Let’s come to the Resolution. The two basic issues here are security and environment. Who is responsible for the security and the environment? We know who is responsible. Our straight request to the Home Minister is please tell us because we are stuck with the President’s proclamation. We want an assurance from the Home Minister or the Finance Minister to please tell us that the elections there would be held either now or latest, with the Lok Sabha elections. We need thus assurance to happen from the Home Minister.

Third is the role of the Raj Bhavan. Now, in the history of Jammu and Kashmir, a new name has been written which even the experts on Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh don’t know. And that name is Alexander Bain. Alexander Bain fax machine invent kiya, dedso saal pehle. Fax machine lekar itna natak hua. A Government which talks about Digital India can’t operate a fax machine through the Government.

Regarding Jammu and Kashmir, there are some very solid points, but I want to take just one – Jammu and Kashmir and the rest of the country. What is happening in these Raj Bhavans? Are they becoming branch offices of a Government in power? Because it is not only the Raj Bhavan as an institution, we are concerned with all other institutions. There is not enough time today to discuss all other institutions but at least let me try and discuss one little institution for one-and-a-half minutes, and that is Parliament.

Parliament Bills are scrutinised by Select Committees and Standing Committees. The last two Governments – and Trinamool was not a part of the last one-and-a-half Governments – 65 to 70 per cent of Bills went for parliamentary scrutiny. This Government has set a new record – 19 per cent of Bills get scrutinised. We are being killed as an institution. Four out of every five laws are being passed without any committee scrutiny. Nine out of ten Bills passed on security, home affairs and important issues like that, have not gone through parliamentary scrutiny. I can give you more examples. None of the six Bills introduced in this session have been scrutinised by Parliament. The Railway Budget – please look at it for the last 70 years – Rs 9 lakh crore – passed… guillotined, no discussion on the Railway Budget. We don’t even know where the money has gone.

Institutions are at stake. A Raj Bhavan with a fax machine was only one example of an institution at stake. We are discussing in Parliament. It would have been beautiful if – it is not about a BJP Prime Minister or any Prime Minister, it is our Prime Minister – the PM came and sat here today and listened to our discussion; maybe then he would change his attitude. If you look at the records of Parliament, he has spent 14 hours in Lok Sabha, 10 hours in Rajya Sabha in the last one year; 24 hours he has spent here. Good. Thirty-seven hours spent giving speeches in Gujarat during the elections. I have got no problem about giving speeches, Mamata Banerjee also gives speeches all over but where is the balance?

If we don’t look at institutions like this, what will happen? The last time President’s Rule was introduced was 20 years ago. I don’t want to get into the statistics of pellets because this is not about statistics, these are human stories. In 2018, 586 people have died. When the House breaks for the weekend, please go on to WhatsApp and see those pictures; they are available. Children, mothers, fathers – they are not terrorists, they are civilians. Through you, Sir, I wish to appeal to the Government, the Trinamool Congress and everybody wishes to appeal to the Government, that you have to have the local people on board. If you don’t the local people on board, we will not be able to solve these issues.

Sir, yeh jo sab sanstha hai, sab sanstha, all institutions, everyone, Parliament, Select Committee, Standing Committee, CBI, RBI – ‘is my private account’, it doesn’t work like this. To come back to this discussion, nationalism is not a copyright of one party and we don’t want to listen to lectures on nationalism from one party. Please don’t tell us about nationalism, we are from Bengal, but I have to say this: when nationalism, when you claim to be a nationalist, then don’t mess around. Heal Kashmir because otherwise if you pretend to be nationalist, you pretend to be an ultra-nationalist and to actually think about, you may be anti-national.

I have only been sadly to Kashmir once, for five days, but I have seen a lot of movies. It’s a paradise. I would urge this Government, I would urge everybody here to not to turn it into Hell.

Thank you, Sir.