India being torn apart: First-time TMC MP Mohua Moitra takes on govt

The Asian Age.

India, Politics

Giving a 'humbling' start to her speech, Moitra later tore down into the government.

Moitra went on to list 'seven early signs of fascism', referring to a poster (on fascism) put up in the lobby of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2017. (Photo: Twitter)

New Delhi :In one of the fiercest speech in recent parliamentary history, first-time Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra took on the government point-by-point.

She stole the limelight in Parliament with her maiden speech opposing the Motion of Thanks on June 25.

Giving a ''humbling'' start to her speech, Moitra later tore down into the government.

“I humbly accepted the mandate” in favour of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance, she said. Mahua Moitra said that dissent was important as there were no "natural checks and balances in the Lok Sabha" due to the Opposition's shrunken strength and the ruling party's unprecedented numbers.

"It is the very nature of the overwhelmingness of this mandate, of the totality of this mandate that makes it necessary for us to be heard today, for the voice of dissent to be heard today," she added.

“You may say that ache din are here and that the sun will never set on the Indian Empire that it is seeking to build. But then you are missing the signs. Only if you open your eyes, you will see there are signs everywhere,” she added.

Moitra went on to list ''seven early signs of fascism'', referring to a poster (on fascism) put up in the lobby of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2017.

Here are the seven signs of fascism that Mahua Moitra highlighted:

Hyper-nationalism: Moitra said that the BJP's vision of "powerful and continuing

nationalism" is searing into "our national fabric". Defining BJP-style hyper-nationalism, she said: “It is superficial, xenophobic, and it is narrow. It is lust to divide, it is not a desire to unite. Moitra synthesis it as putting constitution under unprecedented threat.

Wrapping the anti-immigration laws like the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam in her flaring address, she accused that it was used to target only one a community in particular – Muslims.

“This country is being torn apart. Citizens are being thrown out of their homes and being called ‘illegal immigrants’. People who have lived in this country for 50 years are having to show a piece of paper to show that they are Indians. In a country where ministers cannot produce degrees to prove that they graduated from college, you expect dispossessed people to show papers, to show that they belong to this country?” she asked in an apparent dig at Narendra Modi and Smriti Irani.

She also sad that there can not be a single defined way to test or prove allegiance to one's nation.

"There is no one symbol or there is no one slogan that can show any Indian that he is a patriot," she said.

Contempt of human rights: Citing the rising incidents of hate crime in the country, she said that a "resounding disdain" has penetrated at every level of government. "There is a ten-fold increase in the number of hate crime from 2014 to 2019. It is like a valuation of an e-commerce startup. There are forces in this country who are sitting there, just pushing these numbers up," Mahua Moitra said.  

Moitra also presented a never-ending list of lynchings in Indra, from Pehlu Khan in Rajasthan in 2017 to Tabrez Ansari in Jharkhand last week.

Controlling media: Three, she referred to the "unimaginable subjugation and

controlling" of mass media today. Moitra accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of dominating the fourth pillar of democracy.

She said that five of the largest news media organisations in India are withed "indirectly controlled or indirectly indebted to one man in this country".

Calling TV channels as the mouthpiece of the ruling party, as "coverage of every the opposition party is cut out." She said that TV channels were reduced to mere propaganda broadcasters and dared the government to reveal the amount spent on the same.

“Let the government come out with facts and figures to show (the amount spent on) advertisements,”.  She said the Union information and broadcasting ministry “employs over 120 people” just to monitor and control anti-government stories in media.

Moitra also attacked the affairs on which the ruling party fought the general elections 2019. She accused the government of ignoring crucial issues like farmers’ distress and unemployment. She also blamed the Modi-led party of circulating lies to the extent they sounded like gospel truth.

''You fought elections on “lies” circulated through WhatsApp. “You repeat and repeat a lie until it becomes the truth,” she said about the ruling party’s campaign, likening it to “Goebbels Doctrine”. (Joseph Goebbels was a German Nazi politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945.)

Moitra presented figures to rebuke the claims made by BJP. Moitra said while the saffron party has attacked the Congress for encouraging political dynasty, it was not far behind in fielding such candidates. She said the Congress fielded 36 dynasts, while the BJP too gave tickets to 31.

Obsession with national security: She termed ''obsession'' with the national security as the fourth sign of fascism. She also equated the propagated idea of national security by the ruling party to a 'Kala bhoot', referring to the practice of parents scaring their children with a mythical creature kala bhoot (black ghost) to keep them in line. Mahua Moitra declared, " It is as though all of us in this country are today in fear of nameless, shameless kala bhoot", and there is fear pervading everywhere.

She also objected to taking credit of valour of Army by the ruling party. The achievements of the Army were being "usurped in the name of one man", Moitra said. She also mentioned an increase in the number of killings of soldiers and terror attacks since Modi came in power. "There has been a 106 per cent increase in the death of Jawans in Kashmir," Mahua Moitra added.

Blur line between Government and religion: She said that religion and government have become intertwined in the country which is new in the history of India. She said that "we have redefined what it means to be a citizen". Mahua Moitra again brought the issue of NRC and the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, and said, "We are making sure that it is only one community that is the target of anti-immigration laws."

She said that the ruling government was focussing only on the Ram Mandir issue and because of this religious bias many other important issues were left unaddressed. Mahua Moitra said, "Members of the Parliament are concerned mostly with 2.77 acres of Ram Janmabhoomi while (they seem to be unconcerned) by the 80 crore acre that makes India."

Disdain for intellectuals and the arts: She labelled the sixth sign of fascism -- The  "complete disdain for intellectuals and the arts"-- as the most dangerous of all.

“There is so much suppression of dissent. Funding is being cut for liberal education. Article 51 of the Constitution demands a scientific temperament. But everything we are doing is pushing India back to dark ages. Secondary school textbooks are being manipulated and distorted in order to indoctrinate. You don’t even tolerate questioning, let alone dissent,” Moitra said.

Erosion of independence in electoral system: In her concluding point she said there is  "erosion of independence in electoral system". Taking Election Commission in her fierce commentary, Moitra questioned the functioning of the recent Lok Sabha polls.

She did not raise doubt on the mandate, but how the Election Commission of India was being used to transfer key officials. Mahua Moitra also questioned why the Election Commission of India did not take action against the amount of money spent during the Lok Sabha elections. "Rs 60,000 crores were spent during the Indian elections (this time) - 50% (of this amount) or Rs 27,000 crores by one party," she said. She ended her speech by saying, "I have the right to disagree with your idea."