At Janta Ka Conclave, CPI-M’s Rajya Sabha MP Md Salim, Congress MP Sushmita Dev and Chandrima Bhattacharya, minister in Mamata Banerjee government discuss the role of lawmakers in delivering social justice in India
Md Salim, CPI-M MP
Making Aadhaar compulsory is fundamentally opposed to our constitution. What happens to the data you are collecting for mobile companies? What happened in demonetisation? You were expected to submit the photo copy of your Aadhaar card. So all these black money holders, they employed several people, to use those photo copies of Aadhaar to deposit money because the banks had earlier said that people could use photo copies to deposit certain amount of money. That’s why demonetisation became a scam in itself. Okay, every body is not Jay Shah, but many people made tons of money during demonetisation. On Aadhaar, this government is converting the rights into entitlement. You are creating a society that are divided between ‘have lots’ and ‘have not.’
Sushmita Dev, Congress MP
What’s important to understand about Gujarat elections is that the Gujarat Model was a fairytale of 2014, sold to rest of India outside Gujarat and people believed it. There are two aspects to it. Gujarat has always had the history of being seen as a more developed state than any other and more enterprising because it has a port and it’s a trade hub. But I think this Gujarat elections, I’ve just spent seven days there doing work for my organisation. And I can tell you that when you ask people of Gujarat ‘vikaas ko kya hua hai?‘ they say ‘vikaas paagal ho gaya hai.’ I don’t know what will happen in the elections, but it’s something worth seeing and one has to recall how Prime Minister Modi, that time he was the prime minister in waiting, sold that sotry. How can the same people within three years of becoming the prime minister with a historical mandate in Gujarat say ‘vikaas paagal ho gaya hai.’ In between they tried to change the slogan to pragati (Hindi for growth), so then the slogan started that pragati bhaag gayi.
Purnima Bhattacharya, Minister of State (Health, E-governance), Bengal govt
All laws in the constitution aim at rendering and delivering social justice. But the question whether this social justice is reaching and achieving its goal for which the laws are framed. It is for the lawmakers to also see that whatever laws are being made to render social justice, they are actually being implemented. It’s equally true not only the affirmative laws but there should also be action. As Md Salim said, if the government wants they can always pass the bills in the parliament. It’s all about our intention. Our chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, the first thing she did was to pass the 50% reservation for women at the Panchayat level. If your intention is right, you can always overcome disruptions.
“When I was appointed the DCW chairperson, I was the advisor to the chief minister on grievances. I wondered why I was being asked to head a body, where only retired people were appointed in the past. But I read the act. Women commissions be it Delhi Women Commission, Bengal Women Commission or the National Commission for Women, they all are formed under an act, which is very powerful. I can summon police commissioner and any other officer. If I want, I can make recommendations to the government on any issue. And, if on occasions our instructions are ignored, I can also issue arrest warrant.”
“I will give you an example. We asked for data from Delhi Police Commissioner because, unfortunately, Delhi is known as the rape capital of the world. We asked for data on how many cases in crimes against women were registered, how many chargesheets were filed and what was the number of convictions. Interestingly, for the six months, we were denied the data. After that we issued a notice to the police commissioner and he was very angry. He said that there will a law and order issue if they gave the data to us. We then issued a summon against him warning that if he did not give us the data we will have to issue an arrest warrant. Then all data arrived and the finding was shocking. The data was that between 2012 and 2014, 31,446 crimes were registered in Delhi. FIRs were filed but less than 150 were convicted. In our country nobody fears the law. They think they can get away with any crimes and women and that’s what the DCW is trying to change.”
“Delhi used to be very safe during our childhood. But in last 20 years, Delhi’s condition has deteriorated alarmingly. One of the reasons is that people now have quick money because of the real estate development. Our real challenge is how to channelise the youth energy. If we can’t channelise the energy of youth properly, they can turn destructive. So it (growing number of rapes) is not just a political problem. It’s a social problem.
“In Bengal things are slightly different. Here we worship mothers. Durga Puja is an integral part of our culture here. Women in the whole of eastern and north-east India are given better respect than say in north India.”
Mamata Banerjee will do what it takes to remove the BJP: Derek O’Brien
Trinamool Congress’s parliamentary party leader, Derek O’Brien, has said that the West Bengal chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, will do what ‘it takes to remove the BJP’ from the Centre.
Speaking exclusively at the Janta Ka Conclave, O’Brien said, “Kursi mein kucch nahi rakha hai. But she (Mamata) will do what it takes to remove the BJP. “
Stressing on the need for a united opposition, O’Brien said that the Bengal chief minister had the ‘gravitas’ to bring together opposition parties with different ideologies on a single platform.
He said, “You need somebody with the gravitas to pull this off. How do you get the SP and the BSP to work together? If Mamata Banerjee reaches out to the SP and the BSP to work together, she has a far better chance of getting the SP and the BSP to work together. If I try and become a tennis coach and if Roger Federer tries to become a tennis coach, Roger Federer has that gravitas, he has that credibility in the tennis world. So I think Mamata di is now on top of her game.”
Rifat Jawaid breaks down while talking about his first break in journalism
For years you have seen Rifat Jawaid give grief to politicians while holding them to account. On 27 October, while speaking at Janta Ka Conclave in Kolkata, the editor-in-chief of Janta Ka Reporter, broke down in public. Rifat was introducing the segment to felicitate his mentor and the former editor of The Statesman, Michael Flannery, for his contribution to journalism. He recalled how Michael was the one who believed in Rifat’s ability as a journalist and gave him his first break. Rest, he added, was history.
Reacting to the public display of emotions, the conclave’s chief guest, Derek O’Brien, said that he was incredibly moved by the ‘guru-shishya’ tradition. Asking for a round of applause in honour of Rifat, the parliamentary party leader of the TMC said, “Today what I saw from you was so much of emotion and it’s so beautiful to see a grown-up man cry. And I am so happy that there are still some people like you in the world, whpo say thank you to their mentors…To me whatever questions you ask me today and whatever answer I give you, I will perhaps forget, but what you did to Mike by honouring him, that’s beautiful.”
Janta Ka Reporter will host its second edition of Janta Ka Conclave late in October in Kolkata. Themed around ‘social justice in India, the day-long conclave will have eminent guests from the world of politics, media, civil society, Bollywood and corporate.
Here is itinerary for Janta Ka Conclave
Session 1 : 10-30-11.15
- Swati Maliwal, Chairperson, Delhi Commission for Women
- Chandrima Bhattacharya, Minister of State (Health, E-governance)
- Gurmehar Kaur, Student, Peace Activist
Session 2: 11.15-12.00
- Preeyam Budhia
- Meenu Budhia
- Arjun Chakrabarty
- Nilanjana Chakrabarty
Session 3 : 12.15- 13.00
- Shatarup Ghosh, CPI-M
- Ritesh Tiwari, BJP
- Rizwan Arshad, Congress MLC
- Ashoo Mongia, Gau Raksha Dal
- Lunch: 13.00- 14.00
Session 4 : 14.00-14.45 TBC
Session 5: 14.45-15.15
- Media Stalwarts: Michael Flannery, Aniruddha Bahl, Shikha Mukherjee, Rifat Jawaid
Session 6: 15.15- 15.45
- Sushmita Dev, Congress MP
- Md Salim, CPI-M MP
- Sukhendu Sekhar Roy, TMC MP
Session 7: 15-45- 16.15
- Local businesses
Session 8 16.30- 17.00
- Derek O’Brien, TMC parliamentary leader in Rajya Sabha