Hitting out at the BJP-led NDA government at Centre, Trinamool Congress' Mahua Moitra on Tuesday lambasted the Modi government over a host of issues and warned of, what she claimed, were early signs of "fascism".
Speaking on the Motion of Thanks on the President's address in the Lok Sabha, Moitra, in her maiden speech in the house accused the BJP of spreading fear across the country since 2014 and politicising the issue of 2.77 acres of land (in Ayodhya).
She said she “humbly accepted the mandate” in favour of the BJP but added that there are no “natural checks and balances in the Lok Sabha,” due to the opposition's weak numbers in the house, saying that is the reason that “dissent is all the more important.”
“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,” said Moitra, an MP from from Krishnanagar, West Bengal who defeated the Kalyan Chaubey of BJP by more than 63,000 votes in the Lok Sabha election.
“There is a ten-fold increase in the number of hate crimes from 2014 to 2019. It is like a valuation of an e-commerce start up. There are forces in this country who are sitting there, just pushing these numbers up,” charged Moitra.
“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", she asked in reference to the National Register of Citizens in Assam.
"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 added.
She also launched an all-out attack on the BJP's brand of nationalism saying it has a "lust to divide". “It is superficial, xenophobic, and it is narrow. It is lust to divide, it is not a desire to unite.”
Moitra also raised the issue of clamping down on dissent the country and said the textbooks in schools were being "manipulated to indoctrinate" students.
“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,” said the TMC MP.
She said there is an erosion of electoral system and a "dangerous fascism" rising in India under the BJP.
Holding that the Constitution was under threat, Moitra said there were signs everywhere that the country was being torn apart. Citizens were being thrown out of their homes, she claimed.
The lynching of young citizens, she said, was taking place and drew the attention of members to the lynching of Tabrez Ansari in Jharkhand.
She also alleged the five large media houses in India were directly or indirectly being controlled by a single man.
The BJP and TMC have been at loggerheads in West Bengal where the BJP has emerged as a formidable challenger to Mamata Banerjee-led TMC. The two parties fought a highly publicised battle in the polls and continue to clash with each other over a number of issues, including the political violence in the state.
Since the Lok Sabha polls, a number of TMC members, MLAs and councillors, have joined the BJP, increasing the tensions between the two parties.
The BJP won 18 out of the total 42 parliamentary seats in West Bengal in the 2019 Lok Sabha poll, while the TMC won 22 seats
(With inputs from PTI)
For in-depth, objective and more importantly balanced journalism, Click here to subscribe to Outlook Magazine