Here’s how Derek O’Brien exposed his own party’s hypocrisy on freedom of speech



Here’re some interesting excerpts from TMC spokesperson Derek O’Brien’s interview that exposed his party’s hypocrisy.

When it comes to exposing the double standards of the so-called secular brigade during debates on English news channels, there are only three names that strike in every Indian’s mind. Rahul Kanwal, Arnab Goswami, and Rahul Shivshankar are the three names. However, the person who recently exposed the TMC is not one of the above. His name is Karan Thapar! Yes, the devil’s advocate who has earned a notorious reputation due to his pro-Congress stand.

After ending his contract with India Today, the senior journalist is working as a newspaper columnist and interviewer for an online portal. His work as an interviewer these days is laudable in intent, in fact, quite extraordinary.

Getting back to the main point, Thapar recently interacted with Rajya Sabha leader of the TMC as well as party’s spokesperson Derek O’Brien. Here’re some interesting excerpts from the interview, conducted for The Wire.

On being asked if the All India Trinamool Congress Party’s position has become wobbly due to Mukul Roy’s exit, the party’s spokesperson said TMC’s grassroots workers are its key to success. One or two lollypops going to Delhi do not matter.

After few usual questions, Thapar crossed the parochial barrier and started discussing issues that made O’Brien feel uncomfortable.

“It’s OK to offend Hindus”

The senior journalist pointed out that people applaud Banerjee’s stand taken on Padmavati. She defended the right of the filmmaker to make that film and offered a shelter as well as security to the director and film’s star cast.  However, she stopped the printing of Taslima Nasreen’s book Nirvasan in West Bengal. She ordered a television channel to stop the telecast of TV show scripted by Nasreen and has banned her from entering Bengal. There is a complete 100 percent polarity between her stand on Nasreen and her position taken on Padmavati. One contradicts the other.

The West Bengal’s chief minister is always ahead to defend freedom of speech when it is used as a tool against Hindus. But when it is against the Muslims, she openly supports the Muslim conservatives, said Thapar.

After unsuccessfully attempting to divert the subject, O’Brien skipped the question by saying that Nasreen is from Bangladesh and she’s a foreigner in India.  On this, Karan Thapar rightly pointed out that the author has a valid visa to stay in India and India’s constitution offers certain freedom to all residents, including foreigners.

It’s the CM’s moral responsibility to allow Taslima Nasreen to print and publish books as well as to visit her state when she has valid documents issued by the central government. Overall, voters can easily understand that there is hypocrisy in the way Banerjee stands up for freedom of speech.

As we often see, when members of secular brigade start feeling that they are severely exposed, they start blaming the BJP for everything. This is exactly what O’Brien did. He refused to answer Thapar’s question about TMC’s double standards on freedom of speech claiming that all this is nothing but BJP’s conspiracy.

To divert the attention, TMC’s spokesperson started discussing how the West Bengal chief minister has made to the top without any God father’s support. She has not been subsumed or gone back to the Congress party and is now running govt on her own without anyone’s assistance.  The former host of Bournvita Quiz Contest also claimed that Mamata Banerjee is the most trusted politician.

The senior journalist asked why Mamata is referred as someone shrill, strident, angry, and shrieking. He cited her as a fierce middle-aged woman.  On this, O’Brien claimed that this is not what Bengalis feel about Mamata.

Perhaps, Thapar was in no mood to take nonsense. He highlighted how Jadavpur University Professor Ambikesh Mahapatra was arrested just because he circulated Mamata’s cartoon. He also shared details about how the chief minister compared kids with a Maoist and just walked away from CNN IBN conclave when a kid asked her some critical questions related to law and order.

O’Brien further shared his opinion that certain images and social media posts can trigger law and order issues. So, the state needs to act against the same. This is where Thapar exposed O’Brien and TMC’s double standards by asking how the TMC can act against Whatsapp and Facebook posts to control law and order problems but criticize the state of UP and Rajasthan for banning Padmavati? They are also banning Padmavati to avoid law and order problems, aren’t they? This is how Thapar gave the former quiz master the taste of his own medicine.

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