"It is the very nature of the overwhelmingness of this mandate, of the totality of this mandate, that makes it necessary for us to be heard today, for the voice of dissent to be heard today," Trinamool Congress lawmaker Mahua Moitra as she began delivering her maiden address at the Lok Sabha on June 25.
Little did she know that she would trend for almost two days after the verbal assault on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
Moitra on Tuesday warned that India was displaying all signs of fascism put up on a poster at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.
"We have to decide which side of history we want to be on. The side that upholds the Constitution or the side that becomes its pallbearers," the 40-something old lawmaker from West Bengal's Krishnanagar said.
Moitra spoke with the attitude of a veteran. She raised her hand to silence the Opposition benches when they mouthed inaudible nothings into the air and continually urged the Speaker to maintain order in the House.
Point by point, she took the NDA lawmakers down and even, when they protested, she told the Speaker: "Sir, there is no room for professional hecklers in the corridors of this great hall, I urge you to put the House in order".
Her arguments were as hard hitting as they were passionate and heartfelt.
"You may say that achchhe din are here and that the sun will never set on the Indian Empire that the government is seeking to build. But then, you are missing the signs. Only if you open your eyes, you will see there are signs everywhere that this country is being torn apart," she said.
The said signs included "superficial nationalism", a "resounding disdain for human rights", "suppression of dissent", "control of mass media", "obsession with national security" and "intertwining of religion and government".
Moitra said the first sign was the BJP's narrative of the powerful and continuing nationalism which was searing into the national fabric.
She said, "The superficial, xenophobic and narrow nationalism is a lust to decide, not a desire to unite."
"There is a ten-fold increase in the number of hate crimes from 2014 to 2019. It is like a valuation of an e-commerce start up. There are forces in this country who are sitting there, just pushing these numbers up," Mahua Moitra said.
She added the lynching of citizens in broad daylight was being condoned and gave examples of Pehlu Khan who was lynched in Rajasthan in 2017 and Tabrez Ansari who was lynched in Jharkhand last week.
"The list is not stopping," Mahua Moitra said.
CONTROL ON MEDIA
She said: "Five of the largest news media organisations are being indirectly controlled or indirectly indebted to one man in this country."
OBSESSION WITH NATIONAL SECURITY
Moitra also cited propagation of fake news and accused the government of "obsession" with national security.
"It is as though all of us in this country are today in fear of nameless, shameless kala bhoot. New enemies are being created every day," she said.
RELIGION AND GOVERNMENT
Religion and government have become intertwined which is unheard of in the history of India, she said
"We are making sure that it is only one community that is the target of anti-immigration laws," she said, adding, "Members of the Parliament are concerned mostly with 2.77 acres of Ram Janmabhoomi while (they seem to be unconcerned) by the 80 crore acre that makes India."
In one swipe, she took down the Centre's new Citizens' Register in Assam, and Union Minister Smriti Irani, and said: "In a country, where ministers cannot produce degrees to show they graduated from college, you expect poor, dispossessed people to show papers to prove that they belong to this country?"
COMPLETE OVERLOOK OF ART
"Everything we are doing is pushing India back to the dark ages. Secondary school textbooks are being manipulated and distorted in order to indoctrinate," she said.
She also accused the ruling government of not tolerating questions and suppressing the dissenting voices.
WEAKENING OF THE ELECTORAL SYSTEM
Mahua Moitra said there was an "erosion of independence in electoral system".
She said she did not question the mandate, but added that the Election Commission of India was being used to transfer key officials.
BUT WHO IS MAHUA MOITRA?
A former Congress leader, Mahua Moitra found her footing in the Trinamool Congress. She was earlier placed in charge of the Youth Congress in West Bengal
Known for downing opinionated television anchors in heated encounters, Moitra is also one of TMC's eminent national spokespersons. The others are Derek O’Brien, Sudip Bandyopadhyay, and MPs Saugata Roy, Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar and Dinesh Trivedi.
In 2017, as an MLA she filed a defamation case against BJP leader Babul Supriyo, objecting to his remarks where he referred to her as ‘Mahua drunk on Mahua’.
Moitra has been the vice-president of JP Morgan before returning to India in 2008 to join politics.