June 10, 2021 4:48:13 am
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday promised to rally Opposition-ruled states in support of farmers who have been protesting for months against the agricultural laws that the Centre pushed through Parliament last September, and said she aims to “remove the Narendra Modi government from power”.
Banerjee made the comments after holding talks with Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leaders Rakesh Tikait and Yudhvir Singh in the state secretariat. Former Union Finance Minister and TMC vice-president Yashwant Sinha also attend the meeting.
“We have already rejected these farm laws in our Assembly. I was on a hunger strike for 26 days during the ‘Singur movement’. In this movement, we have assured that farmer’s land cannot be taken forcefully. The kisan [farmers’] movement, the way it’s going on, we fully support them. I am ready to support the kisan movement till all their demands are met,” Banerjee told reporters after the meeting.
She added, “I have been requested to convene a meeting of all opposition CMs regarding the anti-farm laws. I am waiting for the Covid-19 to come down a bit. The farmers’ movement is going for nearly seven months. Why has no one spoken to the protesting farmers since January? Are they not people of this country?”
The Trinamool Congress (TMC) accused the Modi government of “destroying the country”. She said, “In the last seven years, this ‘BJP raj’ has completely destroyed the country. The country has become weak and is suffering. The economy has become a disaster. We are facing twin disasters, both natural and political disaster. Many youths have lost their jobs in the country and the BJP government has stopped our democratic rights. Youth who joined the BJP should come together and fight against these draconian anti-farmer laws.”
Banerjee called on states to collectively resist the Centre. “We should have a union of state governments so that if one state is harassed, all other states come together and fight collectively.”
Asked if she would lead the farmers’ movement on behalf of the Opposition, the TMC chairperson said, “The farmers are from every state and therefore forget my name. I don’t want to lead it. It is a collective family and it is a nationwide issue.”
Tikait, who has emerged as the face of the protests, thanked Banerjee for getting the state Assembly to adopt a resolution against the three agricultural laws.
“We request people who have not supported us so far, that please join and support us. This is not an ordinary protest. This is not just a protest for farmers, it is for the industry workers and many others. It is a movement and this is just the beginning,” he said, adding, “The Bharatiya Kisan Union requests Mamata Banerjee to support us in our cause and become a role model for the other states to follow suit. This is the seventh month we are fighting this fight. The chief minister assured us that she will continue to support the farmers’ movement. We thank her for this assurance. West Bengal should work as a model state and farmers should be given more benefits.”
Before the meeting, Singh, the general secretary of the BKU, had told PTI, “We want to congratulate Mamata Banerjee for her electoral victory and to elicit her support for the move to give farmers a fair MSP for their crops.”
Sinha, a former BJP leader, said after the meeting, “Agriculture here is not only a profession, it’s a way of life, and if you go against the farmers, then you go against the country. It is necessary to stop the trend towards the commercialisation of farming. We are with the farmers…we want the three laws to be withdrawn and a new law on MSP brought in.”
(With PTI inputs)
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