In a fiery maiden speech in Parliament on June 26, TMC MP from West Bengal’s Krishnanagar, Mahua Moitra went hammer and tongs against the BJP government, pinpointing the traits of fascism it has cultivated in the country during its rule. Moitra began by expressing her respect for the people’s mandate in re-electing the BJP to power, but stressed that it becomes equally important for the opposition to put forth its dissent over trends that show that the country is being “torn apart”.
“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 said.
Moitra was speaking on the Motion of Thanks to the President’s address in the House, held on June 24 and 25.
Referring to a poster talking of 14 signs of fascism, put up in the lobby of the Holocaust Museum in the US, Moitra said almost seven of the signs have already entrenched their roots in the country under the BJP government.
“You may say acche din are here and the sun will never set on the Indian empire this government is seeking to build. But you are missing the signs that this country is being torn apart. Only if you open your eyes, you will see there are signs everywhere that this country is being torn apart,” she said.
- Powerful and continuing nationalism
Moitra said the form of nationalism that is being currently practiced in the country was “superficial, xenophobic and narrow.”
Alluding to the decision of the Assam government to update its National Register for Citizens under which residents have to produce citizenship proof, she said there is a lust to divide, and not a desire to unite where “citizens are being torn out of homes and being called illegal immigrants.”
Taking a dig at BJP ministers like Smriti Irani, she said residents who have been living in a state for over 50 years have to produce a piece of paper to show their citizenship, when ministers in the same country cannot produce their graduation certificates.
- Resounding disdain for human rights in government
Citing the recent lynching of a Muslim man in Jharkhand, Moitra said the country has witnessed a 10-fold increase in hate crimes between 2014 and 19, and has a specialised force which is perpetrating such crimes.
- Subjugation and controlling of mass media
Lashing out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Moitra said as many as five of the largest news media organisations in India are being controlled by “one man in the country.” Accusing TV channels of spreading a majority of broadcasting propaganda for the ruling party, while cutting out the coverage of every opposition party, she dared the government to come out with facts and figures to show ad money spent per media house.
She said the Union Ministry of Information and Technology employs over 120 people solely to monitor anti-government news and content in the media.
She pointed out the way fake news is being spread and gradually converted as truth through repeated circulation. “Fake news is a norm. This election was not fought on farmer distress. This election was not fought on unemployment. This election was fought on WhatsApp, on fake news … every piece of news or lie you put out, you repeat and repeat it, till it becomes true. This is the devil’s doctrine.”
Taking a jibe at the Modi’s claim of being a ‘kaamdar’ leader (one who works) while comparing himself to Rahul Gandhi whom he calls ‘namdaar’ (one with a famous surname), Moitra said, “You talk of naamdaar and kaamdar. Let me tell you the Congress party may have put up 36 dynasts since 1999 in Parliament, but the BJP has put up 31. Every time you put out a fact, it is not the truth.”
- Obsession with national security
Moitra said the government’s obsession with national security and the identification of enemy was the fourth fascist threat to democracy. She said the government brags about the same even as there has been a 106 per cent increase in the death of jawans in Jammu and Kashmir and manifold rise in terrorists attacks in the country.
“The achievements of the army are being usurped in the name of one man. New enemies are being created every day,” she said.
- Religion and government intertwined
Moitra underlined the flaws in the NRC and the Citizenship Amendment Bill. She said even though there are more pressing matters to address, Parliamentarians today are more concerned with just 2.77 acres of land –the site of the promised Ram Mandir in Ayodhya – than the rest of the 12.100 million acres of land.
- Disdain for intellectual and the art
Moitra said the complete disdain for intellectuals and art is the most dangerous sign of all. Even though Article 51 of the Constitution demands scientific temperament, funding for liberal education is being cut and school textbooks are being manipulated to concur with the ideology of the ruling party, she alleged.
“You don’t even tolerate questions,” she said blaming the government of curbing the spirit of dissent which is integral to the country.
- Erosion in independence electoral system
Referring to the Election Commission’s role in the recent elections, she said the commission was used to transfer key officials. She also asked why the commission didn’t act against those who spent crores on campaigns against rules.
“Rs 60,000 crores was spent on this elections, 50 per cent by one party. Rs27,000 crores.”