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Friday, February 26, 2021

Government should bring Bill to repeal farm laws, no other shortcut: TMC

TMC leaders said they were confident that the 2021 Assembly polls would throw up victories for non-BJP parties in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Kerala, and that the “real big election” would be in 2024 for the “idea of India”.

Written by Dipankar Ghose | New Delhi |
Updated: January 26, 2021 5:31:03 am
Chiranjit Chakraborty, Mamata Banerjee, Bengal polls, West Bengal elections, Indian expressWest Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. (File)

The Trinamool Congress (TMC) Monday demanded that the Centre bring in a Bill in the upcoming Parliament session to repeal the three farm laws, and said there was “no other shortcut”. TMC leaders said they were confident that the 2021 Assembly polls would throw up victories for non-BJP parties in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Kerala, and that the “real big election” would be in 2024 for the “idea of India”.

At a press conference, TMC MPs Derek O’Brien and Saugata Ray said the party’s stance on farm laws had been consistent. “In this new session of Parliament, the government must bring a Bill to repeal those three laws. There is no other shortcut. There is no other legislative way of doing it. The nation watched as democracy was murdered in Rajya Sabha especially, the Trinamool’s motion was not even voted on. Five days to go for Parliament, we are against this ordinance ordinance business,” O’Brien said.

The MPs said that in West Bengal, TMC was focusing on the governance model it had implemented in the last decade. “Let us compare the farmer compensation when it comes to Krishak Bandhu, and compare it to the PM Kisan (Samman Nidhi Yojana)… In Bengal, 5,000 rupees per acre, in PM Kisan, 1214 rupees per acre. In Bengal the scope is for all farmers under Krishak Bandhu. In PM Kisan, it’s only for small and marginal farmers (with holdings) up to two hectares. Coverage in Bengal 100 percent, PM Kisan 92 percent,” O’Brien said.


2-pronged strategy to counter BJP

The TMC’s move to compare schemes of the West Bengal government and the Centre indicates a two-pronged strategy to counter the BJP. On one hand, TMC is playing up the insider-outsider plank, trying to project the BJP as a party that does not respect Bengali culture, and on the other, it is looking to counter it on governance by playing up the performance of the Mamata Banerjee government.

The MPs also spoke up the West Bengal government’s Duare Sarkar scheme, which brings government schemes to the doorstep of citizens, and said of those, the Swasthya Saathi scheme was one of the most popular. “Who finances it? Hundred percent state government. Ayushmaan Bharat 60 per cent centre, 40 per cent by the states. The cards are issued in the names of the women heads of the family… Kanyashree started in 2013 in Bengal against Beti Bachao Beti Padhao. The scheme in Bengal is targeted conditional cash transfer. The Beti Bachao of 2015, there is no well advertised outline. Expenditure: Rs 9,400 crore for one state of Bengal, Beti Bachao Rs 425 crore for all India,” Ray said.

O’Brien said there was indeed a “big election” approaching, but it was in 2024 and not in 2021. “Because the 2021 election, thanks to the blessings of people of Tamil Nadu, the people of Bengal, people of Kerala, the BJP will lose these three elections. Assam from what our understanding is a close election. Why we are saying 2024 is the big election because we have to again fight for the Constitution of India, the idea of India,” O’Brien said.

On the issue of Jai Shri Ram slogans being raised when West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was about to speak at an event to mark the 125th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in Kolkata, O’Brien said, “This is not only an insult on Mamata Banerjee. This is an insult on the people of Bengal. This is an insult of all what Bengal stands for.” Ray added, “This is also an insult of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.”

In Assembly, govt to table resolution against agri laws

Kolkata: The West Bengal government led by the TMC on Monday said it would table a resolution demanding the immediate repeal of the Centre’s new farm laws during a two-day Assembly session starting January 28. The laws have run into stiff opposition from farmer groups.

State Education and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Partha Chatterjee said the resolution would be tabled under Rule 169 during the second half of the session on January 28. However, the ruling party’s attempts to table a joint resolution with the Congress and the Left Front failed as they wanted to introduce it under Rule 185.

“They wanted to bring the same resolution under Rule 185. What is the point of bringing two resolutions on the same issue under two different rules? When the government has submitted a resolution, it is expected that it will be accepted. A two-and-a-half-hour discussion will be held on the resolution,” Chatterjee said at the Assembly following an all-party meeting convened by Speaker Biman Banerjee.

While under Rule 169 the government pilots a resolution in the Assembly, any party can move a resolution in the House under Rule 185. So far, five non-BJP-ruled states have passed Assembly resolutions against the agricultural laws.

Leader of the Opposition and senior Congress leader Abdul Mannan said the Mamata Banerjee government does not have the moral authority to introduce a resolution against the Centre’s farm laws, claiming it too had passed similar laws a few years ago. The Left Front and the Congress, however, said they would participate in the discussion and place their views in the House. BJP legislative party leader Manoj Tigga said his party would oppose the resolution.

Besides the resolution, two Bills would be tabled in the Assembly. One pertains to the establishment of an agricultural university and the second to GST-related matters. ENS

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