Mamata Banerjee speaks to protesting farmers; sends emissary to meet them at Singhu border
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee spoke to the representatives of the farmers protesting against contentious farm laws and sent an emissary to meet them at the Delhi-Haryana border on Friday. This comes a day after she threatened a nationwide protest if the Centre did not scrap the laws that allow agribusinesses to freely trade farm produce without restrictions.
“The CM [chief minister] made at least four calls to different farmers’ groups from Haryana and Punjab. They shared their demands with the chief minister and thanked her for her solidarity. They also expressed their gratitude for all her support to farmers and the land movement in the past,” Kakali Ghosh Dastidar, a lawmaker of Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress (TMC) said. “[Derek] O’Brien, TMC’s Rajya Sabha leader, spent four hours meeting various groups of farmers who have parked their tractors and other vehicles on the highway at the [Delhi-Haryana] Sighu border.”
The TMC’s top leadership was expected to meet later on Friday to chalk out their future course of action against the farm laws including the Essential Commodities Act. “...We will discuss how the Essential Commodities Act is impacting common people and resulting in skyrocketing prices. The central government must withdraw this anti-people law,” Banerjee tweeted on Thursday.
Farmers, especially from Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting against the three laws, saying they will hurt their incomes even as the government has maintained they will enhance them. They say the laws are a precursor to the withdrawal of government support for farming and will replace existing middlemen with more powerful corporate entities.
Fourteen years ago, on this day (December 4), Banerjee started her 26-day hunger strike while intensifying the Singur movement in West Bengal against forcible land acquisition.
“14 years ago on 4 Dec 2006, I began my 26 day hunger strike in Kolkata demanding that agricultural land cannot be forcefully acquired. I express my solidarity with all farmers who are protesting against draconian farm bills passed without consultation by Centre. #StandWithFarmers,” Banerjee tweeted on Friday.
The BJP responded to the CM’s move later. “Kisan mandis in West Bengal exist only on paper while farmers in the state are not getting the minimum price and selling their produce at distress rates. Potatoes are selling at double the normal rates. But what rates are the farmers getting? The TMC is merely trying to divert the attention away from the state,” said BJP leader Samik Bhattacharya.
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