I was watching the theatrics following the Railway Budget on Wednesday with my eight-your-old when Derek O’Brien appeared on screen. Junior, grown up idolising O’Brien (his feelings cemented when he found the GK books prescribed in his school written by India’s foremost quizmaster), was a bit taken aback as his hero left midway through a news show in a huff.
For the 10 or 15 minutes he was on the show, O’Brien showed temper at being asked presumably uncomfortable questions and tried to defend his party boss, Mamata Banerjee, with all might and vigour. And when that attempt appeared feeble, he took off his earpiece and walked out. Not the best reaction for children who know him as the affable quizmaster, which he is.
Tomorrow the kiddo may forget about the incident; his little brain has better things to think about than the ugly political drama that has been unfolding in Bengal and now in the Capital. He may again become a starry-eyed eight-year-old fan dreaming of taking part in the famous quiz show some day.
But the world is not made up of eight-year-olds, Mr O’Brien. So stop sulking like an eight-year-old and start taking some questions, as we would expect from India’s best quizmaster.
Have you begun to wonder about the quagmire you are stuck in? Haven’t you for a moment felt like the Sumans, Dinesh Trivedis and Maheshweta Devis of the Trinamool Congress — a feeling that you want to be set free?
Have you ever thought this is just a precursor of things to come? Don’t you ever think of that famous quote by Abrham Lincoln: you may fool all the people some of the time; you can fool some of the people all the time; but you can’t fool all of the people all the time?
Didn’t you think of this before doing those runs and re-runs of the “maa, maati maanush” and “DNA of the party” nonsense at every news channel in support of your party’s outrageous decision on the Railway Budget on Wednesday? Have you ever watched the videos of your those interviews, Mr O’Brien? Or the fact that you looked and sounded ridiculous on them? Even the one on Times Now on the Assembly election results day on March 6 — when you came on TV after a long, long time? Don’t you think you sounded so absurd when the first lines you uttered were “I have come here to speak on TMC’s performance in Manipur and not about anything else”?
What did you think, Mr O’Brien? That if your silence (or was it a boycott of the media?) will not allow people to know about what is happening in West Bengal? That if you don’t speak on your unpredictable, volatile, image-conscious leader, people will not believe what they have witnessed for months? That they can’t see Mamata Banerjee has no respect for the sanctity of the office of the chief minister, the Budget session or even the dignity of women? That people are idiots and continue buying that maa, maati, maanush claptrap?
Why did you come back to the TV shows, Mr O’Brien? Where was the country’s greatest quizmaster hiding when the questions were unanswerable? Why didn’t we see you when Mamata Banerjee kept uttering unspeakables about the wronged, violated women in West Bengal? Where were you when Trinamool goons murdered leaders from your opposition party in daylight? Where were you, Mr O’Brien, when the Calcutta High Court pulled up your government for its failure to follow up those murder cases and decided to monitor the probe since it couldn’t trust the state machinery? Where were you when two upright cops were pulled up openly in the Writers’ Building in Kolkata for doing their duty — solving a rape case? Where were you when babies were dying in hospitals and your leader gave outrageous statements, like they were conceived during the CPM rule?
What do you have to say to all that?
Why is entire Kolkata being painted blue when the state is supposedly bankrupt? Where is the money coming from? Don’t you think it is a shameful waste of public money? And if there is money for beautification why aren’t state government employees being paid their salaries, Mr O’Brien?
Why didn’t we see you when some of our fellow journalists were beaten up, again in daylight, and your CM called it staged? Why then did your police accept by evening that some journalists were indeed beaten up that day? Don’t you think Mamata Banerjee should have apologised for calling it staged?
Why did you take so much offence yesterday, Mr O’Brien, when Arnab Goswami on Times Now opened his questions to you with the word “orchestrated”? If Mamata Banerjee can use the same word against others, why can’t that word be used on her? Do you think only your party and your leader have the right to feel offended?
Why didn’t your party and your leader sack Dinesh Trivedi before he presented the Railway Budget? How can Ms Banerjee demand for a minister to be sacked and replaced by another from her party? Isn’t that the Prime Minister’s prerogative? What does all your knowledge of the Indian Constitution and our political set-up tell you, Mr O’Brien?
Why doesn’t your party quit the UPA if you don’t like what they are doing at the Centre? Why do you continue being part of it, now that Congress has delivered West Bengal to Mamata Banerjee on a platter? Is it to enjoy the spoils of power?
Did you know, Mr O’Brien, that the maximum number of railway accidents took place when Mamata Banerjee was the Railways Minister? That the number was a staggering 15 in 13 months? Why was she absent from her office in New Delhi all that time? What was she doing in Bengal all the while? Why do you think a Union minister needs to spend all her time in her native state? Why then keep an important portfolio with her? If your party and your leader care so much for the common man why should we pay with our lives while she was busy building her political future?
Did you know Mukul Roy, as the Minister of State for Railways, didn’t have the decency to visit victims of the twin train accidents in Assam last year? Did you know around 50 people were killed and 200 injured in those accidents? Why do you think, Mr O’Brien, the country deserves such a man as railways minister once again? Why do you think such a man should be elevated in the first place, when he doesn’t take his current responsibility as the MoS Shipping seriously? Why is he always seen shadowing Mamata Banerjee when he should be sitting in Delhi?
Will you take any of these questions Mr O’Brien? How long will you answer only what suits you and dodge the rest? Have you ever thought that all your life cannot be TV channel shows, where you can throw back the earpiece and walk out whenever the questions get uncomfortable?
Don’t you think after the farce that your party reduced our entire parliamentary system to on Wednesday, to borrow the pet phrase of Arnab Goswami, as you yourself said sarcastically on the show last night, the nation wants an answer from you, Quizmaster Derek O’Brien?