Mamata speaks to protesting farmers, promises support
Times of India, 05 December 2020
Kolkata: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday spoke to farmers on stir at the Delhi-Haryana border in Singhu saying she was with them in their struggle as long as the “anti-farmer” laws are not repealed.
Banerjee expressed her willingness to be part of the struggle and announced a string of agitations in Kolkata from December 8 to December 10. She will participate in a Trinamool Congress dharna near Gandhi statue on Mayo Road on December 10.
TMC will hit the streets on December 8, the day the farmers have given a Bharat bandh call. The party will also start intensive protests from December 11 to 21 in Bengal.
On Friday morning, remembering her 26-day hunger strike in Kolkata — which started on this day in 2006 to oppose farmland acquisition in Singur — Banerjee told the agitating farmers: “I strongly support your movement. The farm laws are being forcibly enacted with brute majority and need to be repealed immediately. I would also like to add how the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 is leading to spiralling prices. It should be an India of farmers, workers, women and children. We would like to support your agitation in Delhi and in Bengal.”
The CM’s phone conversation was met with “Bole So Nihal...Sat Sri Akal” chants, to which a moved Banerjee also responded. Earlier in the day, she posted on Twitter, “I express my solidarity with all farmers who are protesting against draconian farm bills passed without consultation by the Centre.”
Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien, who reached the Singhu border at 10 am, said he walked for three km and could see a “caravan of tractors and trailers”. “The chief minister spoke to four different groups — from Hoshiarpur, Taran Taran, Faridkot and outside Amritsar. They are packed with rations and appeared for a long haul till the bills are repealed. We interacted with them for four hours. They are extremely aware on how these were passed and are very strong in their resolve that their agitation will only end when the laws are repealed,” he said.
Political activist Yogendra Yadav, who was with O’Brien, also spoke at length with Banerjee.
TMC MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, in an interaction with reporters, said: “Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) is a state subject. So is agriculture. They are meant to support our farmers. The new laws are bypassing the APMC and the state's jurisdiction. Also, farmers are expected to sell their produce in different markets. These small farmers have probably never left their villages. How will they travel intra and interstate?”
“Essential commodities have been deregulated so that the poor in our country won’t even get to have basic foods like rice and potato while those in foreign countries enjoy exported Indian food,” she added.