Didi visits INTTUC hunger strike mancha

Trinamool Chairperson Mamata Banerjee today visited the protest mancha where INTTUC activists are staging a hunger strike. The hunger strike is being staged at the foot of Mahatma Gandhi’s statue on Mayo Road from August 16 to protest against the Central Government’s decision to disinvest 42 public sector companies.

The Trinamool Chairperson met the trade union activists at the mancha and spoke with them.

The protest is being led by INTTUC’s senior leader and Trinamool’s Rajya Sabha MP, Dola Sen.

It may be recalled that Trinamool Chairperson Mamata Banerjee staged a 26-day hunger strike to protest against the illegal acquisition of farm land in Singur.


INTTUC staging hunger strike against disinvestment of 42 PSUs

From 12pm today, INTTUC, Trianamool Congress’ trade union wing, started a hunger strike at the foot of Mahatma Gandhi’s statue on Mayo Road, Kolkata against the Central Government’s decision to disinvest from 42 public sector companies.

The hunger strike is being led by INTTUC’s senior leader and the party’s Rajya Sabha MP, Dola Sen. Employees of BSNL, one of the 42 PSUs marked for disinvestment, are participating wholeheartedly in the protest.

Besides disinvestment, the employees are also protesting against their seven months’ due salary.

Here are some pictures of the hunger strike:

On 17th August:

On 18th August:

Dola Sen speaks on The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019


Sir, you have rightly decided to allow discussions on two Motions together. The first Motion, moved by an Honourable Member,  is for sending the bill to a Select Committee. The second Motion, moved by the Honourable Minister, is for the consideration and passing of the Bill. I will first speak on why this Bill needs to be sent for proper scrutiny to a Select Committee of Parliament. Then I will speak on the second Motion.

Let me give you some numbers. Any Honourable Member may file a Privilege Motion against me if these numbers are wrong. In earlier Lok Sabhas, 60 to 70 per cent of Bills were sent to Standing or Select Committees for scrutiny. In the last Lok Sabha, only 26 per cent of Bills were sent to committees for scrutiny. In the current session, more bulldozing is happening. Out of the 16 Bills passed by both Houses, only one has been sent to a committee for scrutiny. This is Bill number 17.

Just because an Ordinance has been brought multiple times does not mean it has been scrutinised. Just because a government has won a big majority in the Lok Sabha does not mean it can bypass the Constitution and bypass parliamentary democracy.

Since 1993, parliamentary committees have been doing a job. We have not yet become a presidential form of government nor have we yet become a dictatorship. Till that happens let us follow the rules of parliamentary democracy.

This government is desperately trying to link the passage of this Bill to women’s empowerment. So let us talk about women’s empowerment.

The present Lok Sabha has 78 women MPs. Only 14 per cent of the Members are women. The Government is saying that this is historic. No, sir, this is shameful. I should know about women’s empowerment. I represent All India Trinamool Congress, a party whose 41 per cent, yes, 41 per cent of MPs in the Lok Sabha are women. In the last Lok Sabha, 35 per cent of Trinamool Congress MPs were women. I represent a party where 50 per cent of seats at the Panchayat level are reserved for women. I represent a party which now has the only elected woman chief minister in India.

I represent a party which, through its government, has provided benefits to 60 lakh girls with its Kanyashree scheme. The United Nations awarded this initiative for women’s empowerment. Rs 7,000 crore has been spent on this scheme. Rs 7,000 crores in just one State. Beti Bachao, with due respect, has spent just Rs 700 crore for the entire country. This is just 10% of Kanyashree’s budget. We do not pay lip service to women’s empowerment like Beti Bachao, 56 per cent of whose funds were spent only for publicity. So humko women’s empowerment par bhashan nahin sunna hai, Sir.

What more can the BJP teach me about women’s empowerment? What more can the BJP teach me about supporting women? You owe your birth and identity to an organisation in Nagpur whose chief in 2013 said that a husband and a wife are bound by social contract, and if the woman fails to deliver her duties she can be abandoned. And that is why the figure for abandoned or deserted women is 23 lakh.

And I am in an organisation that gave me the chance to become the first woman State and all-India president of the trade union wing of our party.

If this government is really serious about women’s empowerment, bring the Women’s Reservation Bill. You are extending the Parliament session. Extend it by one more day and bring the Women’s Reservation Bill. Please introduce the Bill which will benefit 60 crore women. Otherwise shhussh!

During the discussion on the Triple Talaq Bill in 2017, this was said: Jahan Mardon ka sawaal aata hain wahan aap aasani se kanoon badal dete hain, aur jahan auraton ki suraksha ki baat aati hain, etc. Yeh kisne kahan tha? The Honourable BJP sansad, MJ Akbar. Chalo, main wahan nahin jayoonga nahin toh Treasury Bench embarrass ho jayenge.

So Sir, I spoke on why this Bill should go to a select committee. Now for some specifics on the Bill.

1.Remove the draconian criminality clause. As per the Bill, the husband can be jailed for three years for pronouncing triple talaq. Will the wife not be allowed to re-marry for three years? What will she do once the husband is out of jail?

2. The husband is also expected to pay for the maintenance of his wife and children. How will he pay if he is in jail? Where will he get the money from?

3. For bailable offences, bail is given as a matter of right. But in this case, subjecting the victim to additional testimony is just a formality and an additional burden on the woman. In the sayings of the Prophet, the Hadith, it is written, ‘Jitne bhi cheezon ki ejazat hai, usme sabse napasandeeda cheez talaq hai.’ So humko please lecture mat dijiye.

We are all for women’s empowerment, we are all for women’s rights. Two things I demand: One, remove the criminality clause and two, do not mock Parliament by passing this Bill today; send it to a Select Committee. Do these 2 things and we will be with you.

In conclusion, I would like to urge the Members to vote in favour of the Motion to send this Bill to a committee for scrutiny. If you actually stand for women’s empowerment, send this Bill to a committee. If you stand for Parliament, send this Bill to a Select Committee. Thank you.


Dola Sen speaks on the problems faced by tea industry due to imposition of 2% cash tax


Sir, the proposal to levy 2% tax if annual cash withdrawals exceed Rs 1 crore will affect Bengal’s Tea industry as most gardens disburse wages in cash. Around 3.25 lakh workers are employed in 276 tea gardens in the state, around 90 per cent are still paid their weekly or fortnightly wages in cash.

“Several tea estates have a huge workforce and their annual expenditure on account of wages is much higher than Rs 1 crore. These gardens will have to bear this TDS, which means additional expenditure that will add to the production costs,” said Prabir Bhattacharjee, secretary-general of the Tea Association of India.

For example, if there are 1,200 workers in a tea estate in Bengal, where the daily wage is Rs 176, an annual payment to the workers means a sum of around Rs 7 crore, which means a TDS deduction of around Rs 12 lakh, an additional expenditure for the garden. Then, there are other payments like bonus, which would push the tax bill up even further.

In November 2016, when the Centre had demonetised 1,000 and 500-rupee notes and laid stress on digital modes of payment, the disbursal of tea workers’ wages got delayed because of the cash crunch.

The banking infrastructure is so weak in these areas the management had to resume wage disbursement in cash as the workers refused to travel around 30-40 km to reach the nearest banks. Even though private banks have opened ATMs in some areas the telecom connectivity is weak, therefore the workers demand their wage in cash.

After the BJP won all the seats in the Tea growing area the Tea industry had been expecting some good news for the industry that is going through a rough patch. But the budget haa dashed their hopes.


Dola Sen asks Supplementary Questions on action plan for eradication of poverty


Will the Minister of Planning be pleased to state:

a) whether the Government has any data on transgenders, homosexuals and other severely ostracised members of society below poverty line? If so, the details thereof;


b) whether the Government would consider a thorough revision of its plan to specifically describe how it plans to undertake the eradication of poverty among all Indian citizens including from the categories mentioned above?


Dola Sen speaks on the plight of tea garden workers in Bengal


West Bengal Government has fully exempt tea gardens from agricultural income tax for the years 2018-19 and 2019-2020. There are 2.72 lakh workers in Bengal’s tea gardens and 8 lakh dependants living in tea gardens. The Bengal Government is committed to ensuring the welfare of tea garden workers and has allocated more than 1000 crore since 2011 for this. The West Bengal Government gives 35 kg rice at Rs 2 per kg, provides electricity and water supply to tea gardens, and raised their wages.

In the midst of politically motivated trade unions strikes, tea garden owners have gone to court to declare their tea garden as ‘abandoned’. As a result, workers are suffering. The West Bengal Government is proactively taking action against organisations who are not paying Provident Fund and gratuity. The lease of abandoned tea gardens which had been shut down are being cancelled and auctioned.

On the other hand, the Centre has failed to fulfil its promise of taking over 7 tea gardens. The promise was made by a Union Minister during 2016 Assembly election campaign. Tea estates in other parts of the country such as Assam need urgent attention of the Union Government. Other states and Centre must take inspiration from the Bengal model to uplift the conditions of tea farmers. Many tea workers still work at low wages and poor working conditions. The Centre must work towards ensuring better working conditions for tea workers to promote the industry.

Mamata Banerjee announces Trinamool candidates for forthcoming Rajya Sabha election

Trinamool Congress Chairperson Mamata Banerjee today, through a Facebook post, announced the names of the party’s candidates for the forthcoming Rajya Sabha election.

The elections are due on 8 June.


Mamata Banerjee’s Facebook post:

The following are All India Trinamool Congress candidates for forthcoming Rajya Sabha election:

1. Derek O’Brien
2. Sukhendu Sekhar Roy
3. Dola Sen
4. Dr Manas Bhunia
5. Smt Shanta Chhetri (Kurseong, Darjeeling)

My best wishes to all of them. Salute to Ma, Mati, Manush.


রাজ্যসভা নির্বাচনের জন্য তৃণমূল প্রার্থীদের নাম ঘোষণা করলেন মমতা বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায়

আজ ফেসবুকের মাধ্যমে রাজ্যসভা নির্বাচনের জন্য তৃণমূল প্রার্থীদের নাম ঘোষণা করলেন মমতা বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায়।

তিনি লেখেন:

আসন্ন রাজ্যসভা নির্বাচনের জন্য সর্বভারতীয় তৃণমূল কংগ্রেসের প্রার্থীরা হলেন:

১. ডেরেক ও’ব্রায়েন
২. সুখেন্দু শেখর রায়
৩. দোলা সেন
৪. ডঃ মানস ভুঁইয়া
৫. শান্তা ছেত্রী (কার্শীয়াং, দার্জিলিং)

ওঁদের জানাই আমার শুভেচ্ছা। মা, মাটি, মানুষকে আমার অভিবাদন জানাই।



Dola Sen makes a Zero Hour Mention on compensation for Sardar Sarovar Project

Deputy Chairman Sir, my subject today is regarding families affected by the Sardar Sarovar project; many of whom are Adivasis. Sir, as of today, many families affected by the project are still residing in the submerged areas spread over 214 sq km. Many schools, dispensaries, dharamshalas, ration shops, temples, mosques and other public amenities, cultural and market centres, shops and panchayats are yet to be shifted from the submerged areas to new sites.

Many families from Madhya Pradesh who were declared affected in the 1980s have been excluded from the backwater-affected category. Most of their properties have already been acquired and transferred in the name of the Narmada project authority. Not only that, a number of affected Adivasi families from Maharashtra are also yet to get any or all of the agricultural lands, house plots allotted with titles and amenities in place of the RR (remediation and redevelopment) sites in their possession and are yet to shift to new sites. Thousands of the Sardar Sarovar Dam-affected families from hamlets in Madhya Pradesh, including fishermen, porters, labourers, shopkeepers and artisans have reportedly not been granted rehabilitation benefits.

It is also ironical that no concrete action has been taken against middlemen and officials who are held responsible for more than 1,500 fake sale deeds and against the massive corruption in other aspects of rehabilitation. Their offences have been recorded by the Justice Jha Commission after a seven year-long enquiry.

Sir, an alarming fact is that a huge amount of water from the Sardar Sarovar Reservoir has been allocated to a Coca-Cola factory and to car industries like Nano and Ford, depriving the people – living in vast municipal areas of Gujarat, particularly in Kutch and Saurashtra – from adequate drinking water,. I demand that a White Paper be published regarding the Sardar Sarovar Project. Thank you, Sir.

Dola Sen speaks on The Payment of Wages (Amendment) Bill, 2017


Honourable Chairman Sir, Thank you for letting me speak on this important Bill.

Sir, India has a 472 million labour market. Out of this, 90% of the workforce is in the informal and unorganised sector. It contributes 45% of the GDP. However, workers are deprived of the benefits of formal employment like provident fund and health insurance (like ESI), bonus, dearness allowance etc. Many workers complain that employers pay them less than the minimum wages mandated by States anc Centre. This is today’s reality. I am sorry to say, the Central Labour Directorate has not been able to exert the law of the land.

Sir, it is important to protect the interests of the workers and labourers. I am glad that a reformed labour code will ensure that wages reach the workers in a timely manner.

However, this Bill states that all wages must be transferred to the bank account of the employer, unless the Government specifically notifies a certain amount, which may be paid in cash. This may pose a difficulty for many who still do not have bank accounts.

This Government constantly talks about cashless India, Digital India. However, does the Government know how many people have bank accounts? The harsh reality is that 80% of women don’t have bank accounts in India. More than 50% of workers do not have bank accounts till date.

To add to the misery of the workers, the restrictions on cash withdrawal have still not been removed by the government. How will the poor worker stand in the ATM queues during his work hours to withdraw money? How will he pay service to banks? Sir, Political parties can receive Rs 2,000 cash donation but the poor worker cannot.

For example, I want to add, if an entrepreneur has to pay Rs 2 crore as wages or salaries of workmen per week, say on Saturday. He is also entitled to withdraw only Rs 24,000 from his bank account per week. Obviously there are no needs for lockout. Factories after factories are being closed due to lockouts affecting the workers.

Sir, in Bengal, there are over 4 lakh people working in the tea gardens. There are over 5 lakh people working in the jute mills. Over 1.5 crore people are associated with tea industry, over 2.5 crore people are associated with jute industry. These workers and labourers could not be paid their wages due to demonetisation.

Sir, demonetisation has caused hardship to all workers and labourers. After 3 months of pain and agony, over 25 crore daily wageworkers have lost their jobs. Unemployment has increased to 7%.

There is a need to provide a comprehensive social security system for workers in the informal sector. The Government cannot make the poor worker suffer because of its own agenda to go cashless and Digital.



Dola Sen’s Zero Hour mention on the need for electoral reforms and state funding of elections

Thank you Honourable Deputy Chairman for this opportunity to raise an issue today, which has been part of my party’s DNA, its very existence, since it was established on 1st January, 1998. In the last 18 years, the first section of every manifesto, which the Trinamool has introduced for every election, has been dedicated to electoral reforms.

We believe that the solution to electoral reforms is state funding. State funding of elections have been done in various countries. Whatever model can be used, we need to sit down, get a consensus among all political parties and take steps towards this in a time bound manner.

This Government is only doing decorative gimmicks. It has capped donations to political parties from Rs 20000 to Rs 2000. This is not a solution. The Finance Minister has introduced electoral bonds. How is this a solution? Electoral bonds cannot be the solution. Corporate A or Individual A will buy certain bonds and that shall be passed on to the political parties.

The biggest problem here is that in this age where privacy laws in India are so poor, there is scope for leaks. In October 2016, 21 lakh debit and credit cards’ information was leaked. How will the identity of donors who fund elections and political parties be anonymous? This is not at all a solution.

My party, Trinamool Congress is now a national party. We really believe in finding long-term solutions for this. We need to


  1. Do electoral state funding through election commission
  2. Come up with a transparent system
  3. Bring about a consensus on this
  4. Do not rush through anything right now


The style of the government – everything they do is short term. I hope for this, they will take a long-term view.