Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra, Indian politician and a Member of Parliament in the 17th Lok Sabha from Krishnanagar, West Bengal made a heart-stirring speech that descended into chaos in Parliament, raised criticism, and won hearts.
Undoubtedly, today, no parliamentarian can make as soul-stirring speeches as Mahua Moitra. During the discussion on the Motion of Thanks to the President’s address, Moitra condemned the Central Government for pitching for “hate, pettiness, and bigotry” as part of its political vendetta.
Speaking in her usual straightforward passionate way, she touched raw nerves as she expounded grinding issues and the Speaker, RSP member, N K Premachandran, did not attempt to stop her. The Parliament was unusually silent throughout her speech. Perhaps this speech came at a time when India was bruised with the polarization of religion, caste, North and South, the farmers’ revolution, while the acrimonious politics of the government clamped down on the freedom of speech.
There was a sudden escalation of incarcerated activists, journalists, and comedians for petty reasons or without reason. In a deeply divided nation where one part endorsed by the Central Government takes the role of “nationalists”, are attacking imagined swarms “anti-nationals” is generating more hatred and violence.
The farm laws spiraled into a movement that escalated into police brutality, while the Central Government remained unwavering and rigid in maintaining the laws. This was after a 90-day movement with the death of over 100s farmers, in the freezing winter that only amplified matters.
The three farm bills were hastily passed in the Lok Sabha without giving anyone in the House time to review those laws. In the Rajya Sabha, where the BJP is weaker, and even with Opposition parties opposing the Laws, the BJP did not do the ballot vote as required by protocol even if one person opposes a law.
The Central Government never consulted the farmers on this and when farmers realized the laws would snuff out their autonomy, they rejected them.
In her powerful speech to a spellbound Parliament, she uninterruptedly lambasted the government in her words for “the “courage” to use the official channels of the Ministry of External Affairs to respond to social media posts by an 18-year-old climate activist and an American pop star? When not even one single ministry has been deputed by this government to try and look out for the food, water, and basic sanitation needs of their farmers and their families who were camping at the border for almost 90 days? And finally, the “courage” to bring in three farm laws when the Opposition, farmers across the country, as well as the government’s oldest ally warned it was unacceptable. I wish to remind this government that India, under Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri committed three things to Sampati Singh, the Akali leader: The creation of a Punjabi-speaking state, open-ended public procurement, and an assured return of agricultural produce. These farm laws threaten to snatch away two of these guarantees.
“These laws were made without consensus, tabled without scrutiny, and rammed down this nation’s core to the brute force of the treasury benches that have commonly established this government’s motto of brutality over morality and everyone else in this country has been portrayed as a coward or a terrorist, from the farmers to the students, to the old ladies in Shaheen Bagh. You say you have courage, you claim you have done so many things that no other government has done. Yes, that is true, in a true fascist fashion, you have made every act of pettiness, of vengeance, of hate, of bigotry a part of your narrative of courage,” she added.
She said, “The reason no one has done it before you is not because no one had the courage, but simply because it was not the right thing to do. Has that thought ever struck you? And India’s tragedy today is not just that her government has failed her, but that her other democratic pillars, the media, and the judiciary have failed her too. Lord Hale, the labor peer said in the House of Lords, “What is the point of being a member of Parliament, either in the Commons or in the Lords if you don’t discharge your responsibilities and where appropriate use the privileges that you have in order to promote justice and liberty. So today, like a true child of Bengal, I will stand here and be courageous.”
This is a link to her speech on Twitter
— Asrar_Vaiyanna (@Asrar_INC) February 9, 2021
“The sacred cow that was the judiciary is no longer sacred,” Moitra added. “It stopped being sacred the day a sitting chief justice of this country was accused of sexual harassment, presided over his own trial, cleared himself, and then proceeded to accept a nomination to the Upper House of Parliament within three months of his retirement replete with Z plus security.”
While her comments on the former Chief Justice of India triggered criticism and the Centre planned to initiate a breach of privilege motion as is their view that a person of a high constitutional office cannot be discussed in Parliament without prior notice and the approval of the Speaker, the Government has decided not to pursue any action against her.
The uniqueness of her speech was its relation to reality. Everyone in Parliament knew this was factual. She kept her speech consistent with facts, figures, and real situations over the last few years, revealing the poor economic state, joblessness, and tore down the government’s declarations of an economic boom and the 5 trillion economies, amidst vindictive politics. Her speech instilled courage, for as she said, it was India’s darkest hour and people are feeling seeped into a sea of hopelessness.
In her words, “It would be a privilege indeed if a breach of privilege motion is initiated against me for speaking the truth during India’s darkest hour.” (sic)
Nazma Parveen, journalist of the National Herald wrote, “After a long time, the National Anthem stirred some kind of emotion inside me when Mahua Moitra narrated the last part of the Bengali Version, written by Rabindranath Thakur, another icon, whose legacy BJP has been trying to appropriate. It was the emotion of hope. Hope, that perhaps there is still a chance of redemption for the political discourse in the country.”