West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday said that the Narendra Modi government should either withdraw the three new agriculture laws or step down, reported PTI.
“The BJP government [at the Centre] should immediately withdraw the farm laws or step down,” Banerjee said at a rally in West Midnapore district. “It should not continue to remain in power after sacrificing the rights of the farmers.”
Voicing her support for the ongoing agitation, the chief minister, referred to her 26-day hunger strike in 2006 against land acquisition in West Bengal’s Singur city by the then Left Front government, reported NDTV. “I have not forgotten Singur, I have not forgotten…I am promising full support to farmers,” she said.
Terming the Bharatiya Janata Party as an outfit of “outsiders”, Banerjee said she would not allow them to take control of the state. “Outsiders will not be allowed to grab Bengal...My mothers and sisters will never allow it,” she said.
Despite pledging her support to the farmers’ protest, the Trinamool Congress chief said that her party would not support the “Bharat Bandh” called by farmers’ unions against the new laws on Tuesday.
The rally in West Midnapore was the first since Suvendu Adhikari, a party heavyweight and an influential leader in the area, quit from the Cabinet last month. Banerjee had directed district and block level leaders from the adjacent district of East Midnapore, Adhikari’s hometown, to remain present at the rally, according to the Hindustan Times.
Despite the party saying that there will be “no further discussion” on Adhikari, Banerjee on Monday, accused the BJP of poaching MLAs of her party. “We are not like the BJP which is using its moneybags to dislodge Opposition-run governments in states and trying to break opposition parties,” she said.
The chief minister announced that her government would continue to dole out free ration beyond June next year, after her party returns to power for the third consecutive time. Elections to the 294-member West Bengal Assembly are likely to be held in April-May next year.