Mamata Banerjee breaks her silence on the farmers’ protest in Delhi and threatens to launch an agitation in solidarity across the country

Published : December 03, 2020 20:47 IST

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Photo: PTI

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee finally broke her silence on the farmers’ protest in Delhi and threatened to launch an agitation in support of them across the State and the country. While the Left parties and the West Bengal Pradesh Congress have already hit the streets in solidarity with the farmers in Delhi, Mamata Banerjee’s comparatively delayed response has been criticised by her non-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) political opponents.

On December 3, Mamata Banerjee posted this tweet: “I am very much concerned about the farmers, their lives and livelihood. GOI must withdraw the anti-farmer bills. If they do not do so immediately we will agitate throughout the State and the country. From the very start, we have been strongly opposing these anti-farmer Bills.” She also said that her party will hold a meeting on December 4 and “discuss how the Essential Commodities Act is impacting common people and resulting in skyrocketing prices. The Central government must withdraw this anti-people law.”

Criticising Mamata Banerjee belated response, senior CPI(M) leaders Sujan Chakraborty told Frontline: “Trinamool’s stand is dubious. It has spoken out for the first time in seven days…. We had written to her twice to pass legislation against the Central law, but she did not pay any heed to it. We sent her a letter today as well [December 3], but, again, she did not respond. Now she is reacting only for the sake of publicity.”

According to Amal Haldar, the State secretary of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), the peasant wing of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), huge rallies were held in different parts of Bengal in support of the agitating farmers on December 1 and 2; and on December 3, 4 and 5, there will be blockades on main roads and national highways. Amal Haldar told Frontline: “On the days of the road blockades, we are placing the sacks in which paddy is stocked on the roads. On December 16, we are going to hold a massive rally on Rani Rashmoni Road (central Kolkata) and will give a deputation to the Governor.” The AIKS has also chalked out a programme deputing its members to walk from village to village from December 20 to 31 spreading awareness about the dangers of the farm laws.

On November 9, Mamata Banerjee had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleging that the recently enacted farm laws encouraged hoarding of essential commodities, resulting in escalation of their prices in the market places. “It is unfortunate that without proper planning and developing mechanisms to control hoarding and profiteering, the power of state has been bulldozed,” she said in the letter. Even though Mamata Banerjee had called for a “united stand by political parties” the day after the new legislation was pushed through in the Rajya Sabha on September 20, the Left and the Congress maintained that she was soft in her stand against the Centre. They alleged her response was tepid and an eyewash.