Even as West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has been coordinating with Opposition leaders to hold a joint rally of anti-BJP leaders in Kolkata, the CPM on Thursday worked behind the scenes to get 11 parties, including the NCP, DMK and the Congress, to issue a joint statement against the BJP government on the farm laws.
The joint statement came on a day the Congress high command gave its Bengal unit the go-ahead for entering into a seat-sharing deal with the Left parties for the forthcoming Assembly elections in Bengal.
So far, Banerjee has reached out to NCP chief Sharad Pawar and is planning to invite regional leaders such as AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal and DMK’s M K Stalin to the Kolkata rally. Her attempt to rally Opposition leaders ahead of the elections — to signal that she is leading the battle against the BJP — is worrying for the Congress-Left, which is trying hard to turn the battle into a triangular fight.
The joint statement issued on Thursday – signed by Congress’s Rahul Gandhi, Pawar, DMK’s T R Baalu, J&K PAGD president Farooq Abdullah, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI general secretary D Raja, CPI(ML) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, Forward Bloc’s Debabrata Biswas and RSP’s Manoj Bhattacharya – slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for accusing the opposition parties of lying to farmers about the new farm laws.
These are the same 11 parties that had earlier issued a statement supporting the Bharat Bandh called by farmer unions on December 8. As in the past, the AAP was not a signatory to Thursday’s statement.
“The Prime Minister’s accusations are a complete travesty of truth… Many of us had opposed these Agri Laws when they were being enacted in Parliament without discussions or proper consideration. MPs who sought a vote were suspended,” the statement said.
“Amongst the many unsubstantiated accusations made, one of them is that those who spoke of agrarian reforms in election manifestos earlier but are now opposing. Yes, we are for reforms, but what sort of reforms? Opposition parties seek reforms to strengthen Indian agriculture; enhance the prosperity of our farmers; and ensure continued food security for our people and the country. The present farm laws undermine these very objectives,” the statement said.
Slamming the government for accusing the opposition of spreading lies on the MSP, the statement read, “The PM claims implementing the Swaminathan Commission Report in this regard. This Report had recommended an MSP of C2+50 per cent, while this government, at best, implements A2+50 per cent. In fact, this government told the Supreme Court its inability to implement C2+50 per cent MSP. Who is spreading untruths?…”
Hailing the “unity, grit and determination” being shown by “lakhs of farmers from Delhi’s neighbouring states in the midst of a severe cold wave in a peaceful manner”, the statement called for a repeal of the new laws, along with the Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2020. “Following this, discussions on agrarian reforms must be held by the Central government with the farmers and all stakeholders. On the basis of these consultations, new enactments may be considered by Parliament, if necessary, by convening a special or a joint session,” they said.
Separately, senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi led a party delegation to President Ram Nath Kovind, seeking his intervention for repeal of the three farm laws. A memorandum submitted by the party said an “autocratic Modi government” was refusing to hear the “agony and anguish” of the farmers.
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