Book review: Inside Parliament: Views from the Front Row by Derek O’Brien

By: | Updated: December 24, 2017 4:38 AM

A few light chapters include what constitutes the Central Hall of the Parliament, whom to follow on Twitter or how he is eagerly waiting for Sachin Tendulkar to make his debut speech in the House.

It’s short. It’s crisp. It’s relatable. When Derek O’Brien sits down to write about life inside Parliament, expect it to be nothing short of an enjoyable read.

It’s short. It’s crisp. It’s relatable. When Derek O’Brien sits down to write about life inside Parliament, expect it to be nothing short of an enjoyable read. That he has been a successful quizmaster, who has a few dozen quiz books to his credit, and is a popular orator as well, might be a precursor for you to pick up Inside Parliament: Views from the Front Row, but once you do so, be assured that he will leave you a tad richer with his knowledge and uncomplicated writing style. The book is categorised into five sections—Parliamentary Affairs, The State of the Nation, Saying it Like it Is, The Economics of It, and The Greater Common Good—with each section having six to 10 essays. In the 198-odd pages, the Rajya Sabha member (Trinamool Congress) from West Bengal chronicles his life in Parliament in short chapters like how demonetisation affected the middle class, the impact of GST, etc. His political essays touch upon topics like federalism, constitutional rights, unspent Nirbhaya funds, the death of Rohith Vemula and issues such as Kashmir and Darjeeling. Some of his pet peeves, such as a biased national media or the desperation of the Left, too, find their way into the book. Inside Parliament also provides a glimpse of his party’s beliefs, his unflinching faith in Mamata Banerjee and how despite his 15 years in politics, he is still a student, learning on the job.

A few light chapters include what constitutes the Central Hall of the Parliament, whom to follow on Twitter or how he is eagerly waiting for Sachin Tendulkar to make his debut speech in the House. These topics are aptly interspersed with serious issues such as beef eating, freedom of expression and divisive politics. The book, which is mostly about his first term in the Rajya Sabha, also gives a peek into how he prepares his speeches—just the way he prepared for his quizzes—by doing research and collating facts, and then putting together ideas in a presentable format. Besides bashing the government in eight succinct points in his last chapter, he also devotes one chapter to ‘The BJP is Beatable in 2019’, where he explains how the government can be beaten at its own game.

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