West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday assured farmer leaders led by Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) chief Rakesh Tikait and Yudhvir Singh of support to their agitation against the new agricultural laws.
“I started an agricultural movement and went on a hunger strike. The Bengal government has also passed a resolution in the assembly dismissing the laws. We will support the farmers’ movement as long as it lasts. The leaders have requested me to talk to other state leaders on the farmers’ issue and organise a dialogue with farmers’ unions. We will talk about this once the Covid-19 situation gets better,” Mamata Banerjee said at a press conference after a meeting with the farmer leaders.
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.
Mamata Banerjee’s support for the north India-based farmers’ unions comes within days of the Trinamool Congress announcing that the party would spread its footprints outside West Bengal’s geographical boundaries.
The TMC chief requested all the opposition leaders and other states to come together to discuss policy issues and stand together against injustice.
The BKU had supported the ‘No vote for BJP’ campaign ahead of the West Bengal assembly elections and have plans to extend that in other upcoming state elections as well.
In an obvious jibe at the Centre, Mamata Banerjee said, “India is hungrily waiting for policies which help in fighting Covid-19, and assist farmers and industry.”
The chief minister rhetorically asked, “…why is it so difficult to talk to the farmers?”
She was referring to the breakdown in communication between the Centre and the farmers who have been camping at Delhi’s borders for the past one year against three farm laws passed by the Parliament.
The agitators feel the new laws will commercialise agriculture without adequate protection to small farmers from exploitation by large retail chains and industry.
“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 chief minister said.
“The farmers’ movement is not just for Punjab, Haryana or Uttar Pradesh. It is for the whole country,” she said.
The BKU leader thanked Mamata Banerjee for her assurance. “West Bengal should work as a model state and farmers should be given more benefits,” Tikait said.
(With inputs from PTI)