Mamata assures support to farmers’ stir, says ‘bulldozing states not good for federal structure’

Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been camping at the borders of the national capital for the past six months in protest against the laws that were passed by Parliament in September last year.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Wednesday assured her full support to the farmers’ movement against the contentious agriculture laws, at a meeting with farmer leaders Rakesh Tikait and Yudhvir Singh.

Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Tikait and Singh had met the TMC chief to discuss issues related to agriculture and local farmers.

Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been camping at the borders of the national capital for the past six months in protest against the laws that were passed by Parliament in September last year.

After the meeting, Banerjee announced that her “support for the farmers’ movement will be there” and in an obvious jibe at the Centre, said that “India is hungrily waiting for policies which will help in fighting Covid-19, assist farmers and industry.”

Tikait, meanwhile, thanked CM Banerjee for her support and added that Bengal should work as a model state where farmers are given more benefits.

The TMC chief said that there should be a platform where states could converse on policy issues. “Bulldozing states is not good for the federal structure,” she said.

Ahead of the assembly elections, Tikait had visited West Bengal urging people not to vote for the BJP. He had addressed gatherings of farmers in Kolkata and at Nandigram in East Midnapore district along with social activist Medha Patkar.

Lashing out at the Centre, CM Banerjee said the BJP government didn’t bother to speak to the farmers till now. Referring to the breakdown in communication between the Centre and the farmers, the Chief Minister rhetorically asked, “…why is it so difficult to talk to the farmers?”

She further demanded the immediate withdrawal of the three farm laws.

Banerjee’s support for the north India-based farmers’ unions comes days after the TMC announced that the party would spread its footprints outside West Bengal’s geographical boundaries.

The protesting farmers speculate that the new laws will commercialise agriculture without adequate protection to small farmers from exploitation by large retail chains and industry. However, the Central government has denied the allegations.

Further sharpening the attack on the Narendra Modi-led central government, Mamata said, “The BJP rule has been disastrous for all sectors from healthcare to farmers to industry. India is suffering…we are facing both natural and political disasters.”

The CM also said that the agriculturist leaders have requested her to talk to other state leaders on the farmers’ issue and organise a dialogue with farmers unions. Further asserting that the farmers’ movement was not just for Punjab, Haryana or Uttar Pradesh but for the whole country, Mamata said it was necessary for states to come together to discuss policy issues and stand together against injustice.

With PTI inputs

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