West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday assured her “full support” to the farmers’ protest against the new agriculture laws. She made the comment after a meeting with farm union leaders, including Rakesh Singh Tikait, Yudhvir Singh.
“The farmers’ movement is not just for Punjab, Haryana or Uttar Pradesh, it is for the whole country,” Banerjee said at a press conference after the meeting. She pointed out that the West Bengal Assembly had passed a resolution in January against the Centre’s three new farm laws.
Banerjee said that the farmer leaders have requested her to talk to other state leaders about their problems and organise a dialogue with unions.
The West Bengal chief minister also criticised the Centre for suspending discussions with farmer unions on the laws.
The central government and the farmers have held 11 rounds of talks since December, but no consensus has been reached so far. The government has repeatedly said it will not accept the farmers’ demand of scrapping the new laws. The last round of discussion was held on January 22.
On Tuesday, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar said that the Centre was ready to talk to the protesting farmers but not about the farm laws.
Banerjee on Wednesday criticised the Centre for its policies, saying that the Bharatiya Janata Party’s rule has been “disastrous” for all sectors.
“India is hungry...India is suffering...we are facing both natural and political disasters,” she said.
The Trinamool Congress chief said there should be a platform where states could converse on policy issues as the Centre was “bulldozing” them on matter like the agriculture laws and affecting the federal structure of the country.
Thousands of farmers have camped outside Delhi since November, demanding that the government repeal the three laws that open up the country’s agriculture markets to private companies. The farmers have hunkered down with supplies that they say will last them for months, and have resolved to not leave until their demands are met.
The farmers fear the policies will make them vulnerable to corporate exploitation and would dismantle the minimum support price regime. The government, however, continues to claim that the three legislation are pro-farmer.