Mahua Moitra’s passionate speech in the Lok Sabha during the Motion of Thanks to the President's address on Monday, has become the talking point, as it should be.
In her scathing and no holds barred speech, she took on the Government on issues spanning from its faulty policies to iron-fist dealing of dissent and mismanagement of the ongoing farmer’s protest. She called out the Government for its authoritarian stance over the last 6 years and opting for “brutality over morality”
She went ahead and commented on the appointment of a “former CJI”, being accused of sexual harassment and then presiding over his own trial. This led to a massive uproar in the House, with BJP members demanding her remarks be expunged but that didn’t bog her down. “Truth cannot be expunged “, she defiantly tweeted later.
Her speech was filled with conviction and candour, so much so that even the speaker, RSP member N K Premachandran, was flabbergasted enough, to make any serious effort at stopping her. She was a force to reckon with, and concluded her speech, with the demand of “Repeal or nothing”, for the farm laws.
A salient feature of Mahua Moitra’s speech was that, she talked on the basis of facts and figures, from giving important insights on the state of the economy in the past few years, dismantling the dubious claims of Government of an apparent economic boom and 5 trillion economy. She also chided the Government for appropriating the legacy of Historical leaders like Subhash Chandra Bose, and reiterated that Bose stood for National integration, unlike the ruling dispensation which has reduced Nationalism, to a “narrow religious chant”, which only aims at alienating the minorities and wield majoritarian supremacy. Her speech was coherent and crisp and not a melodramatic rant, which most politicians resort to, reducing them to nothing more than political performers.
This speech was all the more significant because it came at a time when many Indians have given up all hope on any political leader to counter the vindictiveness of the Government and its policies. What sets Mahua apart from other politicians, is that she didn’t restrict herself to the safe territory of speaking for the farmers of Punjab, but also spoke for the Dadis of Shaheen Baug, an issue even the most vocal politicians shy away from. She spoke for incarcerated journalists, activists, and comedians.
She spoke for each one of us, and didn’t make anyone feel left out. It is a rare quality in a leader, in today's time where most of them are wary to chart a course on “controversial” tides and offend popular sentiment. As Mahua Moitra chimed, “There is a fundamental difference between cowardice and courage. The coward is brave only when armed with power and authority. The truly courageous can fight even when unarmed”. It's time for all of us to be courageous.
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.
Thank you Mahua Moitra for channeling the rage and disappointment many Indians have been feeling in the last few years and using your “parliamentary privilege”, as you put it, to give words to those sentiments. As, Billy Graham said, “Courage is contagious. When one man takes a stand, the spine of others are stiffened “.
What Mahua Moitra did with her impassioned speech in Parliament is showing the way forward to many opposition parties, on how to hold a mirror to the Government without the fear of being bullied or mocked. The fact that makes it even more empowering, is that, it was a woman, who held the ruling Government accountable for their actions and reminded them that tyranny has a short shelf life.
She single-handedly raised the level of discourse in Parliament. It is a given, that if we have more leaders, emulating her courage and conviction, there is a fair chance of redemption for the Indian Polity, after all, “It is not in India’s destiny to be ruled by cowards.”