“What happened in Bengal will happen across the country,” Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien warned the government today as he asked it to heed the Opposition’s suggestions.
Mr O’Brien was speaking in Rajya Sabha during the debate on the 127th Constitution Amendment Bill. The legislation, which proposes to restore the powers of states to prepare their own lists of OBCs for providing reservation in jobs and educational institutions, was passed in Lok Sabha yesterday.
Mr O’Brien, who is leader of the Trinamool’s parliamentary party in Rajya Sabha, asserted that he supports the legislation, but said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should be present in the House for this discussion.
“We are really missing our honourable Prime Minister… I make a humble appeal…This is an important Constitution amendment Bill. I am sure my appeal will not fall on deaf ears and he will come here to listen to us.”
Taking a swipe, he added, “Or else, in the Olympic spirit, we can have a cutout too, but that would not be very Parliamentary.” In the just concluded Tokyo Olympics held amid the Covid pandemic, cardboard cutouts of crowds and piped-in cheers were used to simulate the atmosphere of a crowded stadium.
The Trinamool leader went on to add that there is no doubt that the Prime Minister is a “great believer in the Olympic Games”. “There is an Olympic God… Poseidon is linked today to Army, media, judiciary, activists, Opposition members, Abhishek Banerjee…because Olympic God Poseidon’s son is called Pegasus.” He also said the government does not want to discuss the issue because “if we start discussing it, lots of skeletons will come out of the cupboard”.
In Greek mythology, the mythical divine winged horse Pegasus is considered the offspring of Poseidon, one of the 12 Olympian gods.
Targeting the government for its “incompetence” in implementing legislation, including the GST, he said, “My request to the government is take our advice, don’t be hasty, change gears. Otherwise what happened in Bengal will happen in the rest of the country.”
Mr O’Brien also questioned why no caste-based Census was being held. “Why no Caste-based Census? Why no Caste-based Census? It is an obvious question. It is a rhetorical question,” he said.
During the debate on the Bill to give states the power to prepare their OBC lists, NDA allies and even a BJP MP have demanded a caste-based Census. The demand comes against the backdrop of the centre’s recent clarification that as a matter of policy, it would not enumerate the population caste-wise in the Census, except for SCs and STs.
Disclaimer: The NSO group, which owns Pegasus, admits this is spyware and is used to hack phones, but says it does business only with governments and government agencies. The Israeli company says it does not corroborate the list of potential targets reported by media companies around the world. The Indian government has said there is “no substance” to the reports of Pegasus being used by it against opposition leaders, journalists and others. NDTV cannot independently verify the authenticity of the list of those who were supposedly targeted.