TMC’s Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien had named two private citizens during a debate in the Upper House making unsubstantiated serious allegations against them. Mamata’s man had accused them of giving out rape and death threats, and in the process defamed them as those named had never done anything of that sort.
Derek was accused of hiding behind parliamentary privilege, as common citizens can’t take parliamentarians to courts for their actions on the floor of the house. This was followed by outrage on Twitter and a petition was launched demanding an apology from the TMC MP. The petition garnered over 5000 signatures (the target) within a few hours.
Following this outrage over irresponsible behaviour by the TMC MP, BJP MP and Union Minister Smriti Irani today raised this issue in Rajya Sabha and demanded that name of the private citizens be expunged from the records, because they were not present in the house to defend themselves:
— Tajinder Pal S Bagga (@TajinderBagga) February 3, 2017
— Raju Das | ৰাজু দাস (@rajudasonline) February 3, 2017
The fact that Derek had used a propaganda material written by someone who is nothing sort of an abusive troll to defame private citizens, also worked in favour of the Twitter users who were named by the TMC MP.
As a result, Rajya Sabha chair ordered to expunge the names of the private citizens, and the same was done today:
However, what is important is to look at the last word in the above part of the speech by Derek (highlighted by us). By raising the bogey of abusive trolling and rape threats, what he was aiming was to discredit the social media that has often exposed how Bengal has failed to protect its citizens from violent communal mobs.
It should be noted that West Bengal has witnessed many incidents of communal violence recently but the ruling TMC government has always suppressed information about these. The state government has received support from the mainstream media that has largely remained silent over these incidents.
Celebrity journalist Rajdeep Sardesai was asking everyone who raised questions about Bengal violence to leave Twitter, only to be embarrassed when his own TV channel confirmed that Hindus were at receiving end of the communal violence in parts of the state.
OpIndia.com too has published many reports that highlight these incidences. And there are numerous social media handles that have been reporting and highlighting such incidences of communal violence in the state regularly.
With majority of the mainstream media turning a blind eye and the rest stopped from visiting the disturbed areas, all that TMC needed to do was to discredit the social media to achieve complete blackout of state government’s failure in providing protection to its citizens from rampaging Jihadi mobs.
And that’s what Derek O’Brien most probably was aiming for when brought up this issue in the Upper House – to brand everyone trending hashtags like #BengalBurning as a criminal issuing death and rape threats.
The fact that TMC does not want communal violence in Bengal to be discussed and reported is confirmed by this tweet by Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta, who was stopped by the TMC members from raising the issue today:
Sad that TMC tried to prevent me from raising the Saraswati Puja issue in RS. Religious freedom applies to all communities, including Hindus
— Swapan Dasgupta (@swapan55) February 3, 2017
Well played Derek, but the social media won’t be cowed down. And thank you for giving the hashtag that will be now used without fail to chronicle your government’s failures.