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‘Memsahib’ Mahua Moitra is bringing what Indian Parliament never had: a call out culture

For once, BJP MPs used to getting their way in Parliament were taken aback by Mahua Moitra’s comeback to their heckling.

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When Mahua Moitra, the 44-year-old first-time Trinamool Congress MP, stood up to deliver her maiden speech in Lok Sabha Tuesday, heads turned.

It wasn’t just her forceful address listing out “seven danger signs of early fascism” in India that made the parliamentarians, the country and the global media at large, sit up and take note. By requesting the Lok Sabha Speaker to rein in “professional hecklers” – the BJP MPs trying to shout her down – Mahua Moitra may well have created a new path: of bringing the call out culture to Parliament.

Described as “memsahib” by Anandabazar Patrika when she first entered the electoral fray in 2016 West Bengal election, the Krishnanagar MP today seems poised to give it back to senior politicians in their own backyard. The male-dominated Indian Parliament has rarely seen its treasury benches called out so brazenly by a fellow woman MP, that too a first-timer, for their common act of interrupting and shouting down members on the mic.

Also read: PM Modi urges opposition leaders to forget number of seats & be impartial in Parliament

For once, the BJP MPs were taken aback by this comeback from the opposition benches with which they have become quite used to dealing in the manner they like.

In her ten-minute speech, Mahua Moitra also questioned Narendra Modi-led BJP’s hyper nationalism, obsession with national security, and contempt for human rights. Her speech turned her into an overnight star and trend on social media.

A star politician is born

After 11 years in politics, Moitra is not new to media attention. But this adulation is certainly uncommon. Her “rising fascism” speech has been covered by the BBC, which had previously followed her around for two days during her election campaign trail, and has been called the “speech of the year” by Indians on social media.

The former vice-president of JP Morgan, Moitra played down the accolade heaped on her and told ThePrint that the “onus is on us” to raise issues that matter. “We respect the huge mandate that the BJP got. But as a nation, we have to stand up and hold the mirror up to them.”

Not one to mince words, Moitra has time and again held her ground when bullied. During a TV debate on Times Now, then hosted by Arnab Goswami who now does the same thing at Republic TV, Moitra, exasperated by his constant refusal to let her speak, showed him the middle finger.

Also read: Modi govt is facing the heat in Parliament — from BJP MPs

Moitra also made the Centre withdraw its proposal to introduce a surveillance plan for citizens through a social media hub with her petition in the Supreme Court, and the UIDAI clarify that the government agency won’t look into citizens’ private conversations. against the Centre’s surveillance plan for citizens through social media.

Moitra has proved her mettle in politics after spending a better part of her growing up years in the United States. She says she does not regret trading her high-flying corporate life in the US with the rough and tumble of West Bengal politics.

“I was always interested in politics and wanted to work at the grassroots level,” she says.

And her experience in the cut throat world of investment banking is serving her well, Moitra says. “There are some things which are common to both banking and politics, like discipline, hard work and tenacity.”

Also read: Indian women a step closer to breaking glass ceiling in politics

Over the years, Moitra has earned the trust of West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee. A chance meeting with her on a flight made her leave the Congress, which she had joined in 2008 after returning to India.

She has not looked back since and has been given bigger responsibilities. She was made the party general secretary and one of the spokespersons.

The admiration is mutual.

Moitra says the chief minister knows her politics well. “Mamata Banerjee has worked hard to build the Trinamool Congress. The party did not mushroom in a day. We are here for the long haul. Wait for the people’s mandate in 2021. I don’t have to say anything.”

This article was updated to reflect a correction.

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  1. What slavishness ! BBC carries a sarcastic praise of the speech and Print adores her as “Memsahib”, the ultimate honorific in some societies. And now that it has been exposed as a piece of lift irrigation, will Print call her a “Jhee”?

  2. The famous speech by Trinamool MP MahuaMoitra in parliament on 25th June which paid media was full on praise was actually an article written by a US journalist on trump in Jan 2017.

    All she did was to replace the word Modi in place of Trump !!!

    Plagiarism at its worst. Here is original article….

    An MP stealing speech from some other source & trying to make it her own that too in the days of social media !!!

    She is a graduate in Maths n economics from Mount Holyoke college (Massachusetts, US) and ex VP of J P Morgan.

    Fancy degree without morality n ethics !!!

  3. Article is as much like worthy as the brilliant theatrics of Mahua Moitra. She could not even stand against abuses faced by her fellow party MP Nusrat or her worse than Hitler party leader. BBC has been doing anti BJP propaganda. So what’s the big deal about it

  4. In this member’s speech, there are all the lines that should have been debated during the election campaign. This has not been done. There was a polarization on the Rafale folder, and we know the result of this polarization. No, there were themes on which consensus was possible between the different components of the opposition. The campaign should have been conducted on these points of rapprochement. But we campaigned thinking about who would become the future prime minister in the event of an opposition victory! An election campaign at the grassroots level is won over ideas where the citizens of the country meet, then come men and women adherents to these ideas and the designation of those capable of implementing them. The opposition has lost sight of that and we do not have the impression that it understood the beating that has just been given to it by the party that won the election!

  5. Arguments expected from opposition (thumbs up). Heckling with the intention drown out (thumbs down).

    • In case of moitra it’s like kettle calling pot black (TMC IS DOING SAME). THOUGH IF WE LOOK BEYOND THAT COMPARISON HER SPEECH IS CORRECT and both state govts and central govt should look within before it’s too late.

  6. Moitra’s speech was commendable and she spoke very well. Some of her points were clear exaggerations but that’s politics, and she’s certainly not the only politician given to exaggeration. The only sad thing is that almost everything she said is applicable in at least equal measure to the state government run by her own party. Therefore she is really no different from other political hypocrites. Doesn’t take away from a good speech still, but that’s all it is, empty rhetoric.

  7. When any MP rises to speak, the House should listen. When it is the charming, eloquent Ms Mahua Moitra, there should be pin drop silence.

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