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Mamata win like a tonic, shows Modi-Shah are not teflon-coated, Derek O’ Brien says

Trinamool Congress spokesperson Derek O’Brien tells ThePrint in an interview that opposition is united and TMC skipping some events should not be viewed as 'one-upmanship'.

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New Delhi: The Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress victory in West Bengal has acted “like a tonic” for everybody (opposition) as it has shown that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah are not “Teflon-coated and can be defeated”, Trinamool Congress leader and the party’s national spokesperson Derek O’Brien told ThePrint in an interview.

O’Brien also said the opposition is united and one should not take the Trinamool Congress skipping some opposition events as “one-upmanship”.

“It is a tonic… it’s like charging up the dressing room in a cricket match. You come and you win. We don’t want one-upmanship. We know we have to work together. We know we have all our seats only in Bengal. We know we are slowly trying to expand. And, we have the humility to acknowledge that we are not perfect. Even with this big victory, we have made some mistakes along the way. We will improve them…,” the Trinamool Rajya Sabha MP said.

There have been questions about opposition unity after the Trinamool Congress skipped the protest march from Parliament to Vijay Chowk Thursday to protest against the abrupt adjournment of the monsoon session and alleged physical manhandling of women members by Parliament security staff. The Trinamool was also not a signatory to the joint statement issued by over a dozen opposition leaders against these issues.

Asked how opposition unity is coming along, O’Brien said that one has to look at the glass as half full.

“We are optimists. Everything is going fine. Congress, Trinamool, DMK, RJD, NCP, Shiv Sena, CPI(M), CPI … you should not ask us questions about opposition unity. Instead, you ask the PM and HM (home minister) if their government has delivered on jobs, economy, federalism….What is this hacking that they are trying to cover up?” O’Brien said.

The Trinamool leader said that he has posed seven questions to Modi and Shah on these issues and is awaiting answers from them.

Also read: All for opposition unity, but can’t take us for granted — Trinamool on missing from oppn events

‘Opposition wanted Parliament to run, govt disrupted it’

On the just-concluded monsoon session of Parliament, which was adjourned abruptly two days ahead of schedule because of repeated disruptions, O’Brien said that contrary to what is being said it’s the opposition that wanted Parliament to run, but the government disrupted it. 

“Why did the government not allow discussions on internal security, on Pegasus and farm laws that the opposition wanted? These are the reasons Parliament was disrupted. They are trying to make a story now that ‘see how the Parliament was disrupted’. What was the stimulus for the opposition’s reaction?” O’Brien asked.

The Trinamool leader said that the running of Parliament has been compromised, be it from the perspective of legislating, deliberating on issues, or even the logistics of running Parliament.

“You (government) bulldozed your way through and passed the farm laws. What happened? You have sent the farmers to the street for 11 months…. BJP has to understand the concept of legislation,” the Trinamool leader said.

Asked why the opposition came together and supported the government for the passing of the bill seeking to restore the power of states to notify their own OBC list, and not for other crucial ones like the General Insurance bill, O’Brien said the context was different.

“The OBC bill had gone to a select committee. The General Insurance bill has not gone to a select committee. You are changing the rules of insurance after 50 years. Shouldn’t the bill go for scrutiny?” he said.

The Trinamool leader said now that the Parliament session is over, they (the party) will carry out their protests outside Parliament, on the streets.

“We are fighting on people’s issues — price rise, farmers … We are not like the BJP, who came to Bengal four months before Bengal elections to seek votes. We work through the year, on the ground.”

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

Also read: Tale of 2 Bengal polls: Opposition demands civic polls but Trinamool wants bypolls first


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