[Excerpted from speech during the debate on the President’s Address to Parliament.]
It is a matter of immense pride that for the first time since independence, a son of Bengal delivered the President’s Address in the Central Hall of Parliament. Bengal’s famous son has, indeed, come a long way since the time he was a professor of political science at Vidyanagar College in South 24-Parganas. We wish him well. We wish him happiness. We are truly proud of him. This pride, however, is tinged with deep regret because after nine years we expected the Government to provide a satisfactory report card on what it has achieved.
Derek O’Brien lashes out at Congress and its First Family
Instead, they have told us about how bad things are, nationally and globally. In fact, they have also told us that they couldn’t fix the problems in 108 months, and they have given us a kind of a thesis that they will fix the problems in the next 12 months and after that, when they will again get a chance to fix the problems, will do so in sixty months thereafter. Let me put their last thought out of the window right away.
The next 60 months will not be UPA-III. There will be no UPA-III because the people of this country have figured out that vague promises made on infrastructure, vague promises made on women’s issues or farmers’ issues or other issues have not been delivered. We were a part of the UPA-II. But soon we figured out that the UPA-II, in fact, had become APA, that is, Anti-People’s Alliance, and that is why, on FDI, on LPG, on prices of urea, on diesel prices, etc, we came out of the Government.
Of all the bad things that we say about the Congress, there are certain good things as well. They also have a world record, and I want to congratulate them on this world record. Why not! When we look at the Central Government schemes and institutions they have, out of 58 of them, 27 are named after one family. State Government schemes have 52 names named after one family. University education institutes have 98 names named after one family. Medical institutions have 39 names named after one family.
My only suggestion is these are names which are already there and we can’t change them. But, in the future, may we humbly suggest some other names. Mahatma Gandhi has four institutes named after him, Netaji has none, Tagore has one institute named after him. How about Bhagat Singh, how about Swami Vivekananda, how about Lal Bahadur Shastri? We need to be a little creative; otherwise, I am afraid no one is going to break the record even if they don’t name one more name after the same family…
Last year, the then Finance Minister – now the highest constitutional authority – had made a very noble and wonderful gesture on Gurudev’s 150th birth anniversary. It was a wonderful gesture to set up Tagore Centres across the world. Nothing has happened to those Tagore Centres. In fact, I charge this Government to say that money for those Tagore Centres, especially the one in Melbourne, has been diverted and used for other purposes.
This is not only an insult to the memory of Tagore, but to the people of India. But when it comes to diversions and commissions, there is something to be said on commissions, divergence and, in fact, let me conclude it with an issue on defence. It is the norm all over the world and it is accepted that 10 to 15 per cent is given as commission on defence deals.
If you ask an average Indian that what is the first image which comes to his or her mind when you say ‘Armed Services’, they will probably tell you, “It is the image of a jawan in uniform on a border post.” But, if you ask a few people in Government what is the first image that comes to their mind when you talk about ‘Armed Services’, I regret to say, some of them will say “dollar bills”. Now, this is what I cannot understand.
On one hand we say that the Prime Minister is an honest man and an honourable man. Then we go on to say that the Defence Minister is an honest man and an honourable man. Then tell me who is taking these commissions?
The point here is: Does the Congress want to set up another world record? It has already set up a world record. Does it want to set up another world record like it did with naming projects after one family – by setting up the world’s largest family enterprise?
Yes, this is sensitive. We know it is touchy. We have people saying that ED, CBI and whatever are behind Trinamool Congress. But, Trinamool Congress has two things behind its back – one is the support of Mamta Banerjee and the second one is the love, affection and encouragement of the people of Bengal. So, we are not bothered.
The youth of India is no mood to accept vague promises. The women of India are fed up with broken promises. The poor of India are tired of broken promises. Today’s India demands: “You make promises; you deliver on them.”
(Famous quiz master Derek O’Brien is a Trinamool Congress MP in the Rajya Sabha. This is excerpted from his speech during the debate on the President’s Address to Parliament. His Twitter handle is @quizderek )