West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday said the Trinamool Congress would hit the streets from Tuesday in protest against the suspension of eight Rajya Sabha MPs for protesting during the passage of two farm Bills on “Black Sunday”. Banerjee accused the Centre of trying to create famine through these pieces of legislation.
The Rajya Sabha on Sunday passed two contentious farm bills — The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020; and The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 — amid a major ruckus by opposition parties. The eight suspended MPs are Derek O Brien and Dola Sen (TMC), Sanjay Singh (AAP), Rajiv Satav, Syed Nazir Hussain and Ripun Bora (Congress), KK Ragesh and Elamaran Kareem (CPM).
Addressing a press conference at the state secretariat on Monday, Banerjee said, “What the MPs did was right and we are proud of them. The Centre is conspiring to take away land from farmers and farm labourers. The landlords are being given all the powers.”
She added, “If the MPs want a division, they should be obliged. Having a majority doesn’t mean I will do whatever I want, bulldoze federal structure, sell whatever I want, bulldoze the state, take away power of farmers… this cannot go on.”
She said, “Even as the country is reeling under Covid-19 pandemic, the Centre is trying to create famine through these farm bills… The country is running in the style of fascism. I urge all political parties to form a movement against it.”
After the suspension of the eight Rajya Sabha MPs, the CM also tweeted, “Suspension of the 8 MPs who fought to protect farmers interests is unfortunate & reflective of this autocratic Govt’s mindset that doesn’t respect democratic norms & principles. We won’t bow down & we’ll fight this fascist Govt in Parliament & on the streets. #BJPKilledDemocracy.”
Reacting to the suspension, Diamond Harbour MP Abhishek Banerjee also took to Twitter and wrote, “What happened in Rajya Sabha is an absolute contempt of Parliamentary proceedings. ‘Pro-farmer’ ordinances by @narendramodi Ji’s Govt are not just fundamentally flawed, but now the Centre is taking away the right to even vote upon them! All one can say is #BJPKilledDemocracy..”
The CM announced that under the leadership of state minister Chandrima Bhattacharya, the TMC would stage a dharna under the Gandhi Statue in Kolkata from Tuesday.
She said, “The suspended MPs have started a dharna at the Gandhi Statue of Parliament. I have spoken to Derek and other leaders. They will continue their dharna throughout the night and will decide on the next course of action the next morning.”
According to party insiders, all district presidents and block representatives in Bengal have also been asked to take up the matter with the farmers and make them aware of the Centre’s “anti-farmer policy”.
Explained: Why Trinamool is leading the charge
The Trinamool Congress has taken the initiative in the Opposition pushback against the two farm Bills as it knows the support of farmers will be crucial if it has to emerge on top in next year’s Assembly elections.
The party had organised statewide protests against the Centre’s agricultural policies on September 16. Its efforts to galvanise farmers is part of efforts to stop an erosion in rural votes, which took a hit in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. That had benefited the saffron outfit, something the ruling party wants to avoid at all costs.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines