West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee, while calling for a ‘greater alliance’ against the farm bills that were passed in the Rajya Sabha on Sunday amid a din, announced that her party is ready to support anyone who wants to take the lead for the sake of farmers. The party is also planning to launch massive protest rallies across the state against the farm bills.
The decision to hold protest rallies was taken after Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu suspended eight members of Parliament (MPs), including Trinamool Congress’s Derek O’Brien and Dola Sen, for the remainder of the session. Terming the suspension as ‘undemocratic’, the TMC chief said the move reflected the Centre’s autocratic mindset and promised to fight against the government.
She spoke to the eight MPs over the protests against the farm bills and appreciated their efforts towards “upholding the values of Parliament". The MPs, who are now holding a protest against their suspension along with Opposition lawmakers from across parties, were suspended a day after the Upper House witnessed unprecedented unruly scenes during the passage of the two crucial farm bills.
Banerjee spoke to the MPs for 10 minutes and in her conversation with them appreciated their efforts in fighting against farmer bills, labour bills and upholding the values of Parliament, a senior Trinamool Congress leader said.
Hours ago, she wrote on Twitter, “Suspension of the eight 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.”
Regarding the passage of the bills, Banerjee said, “The bills were forcibly passed despite the low attendance of BJP MPs. The BJP did not have the numbers and that is why it suspended the MPs from various parties to pass its anti-farmer bills and anti-labour bills.”
“I think there is an immediate need for an alliance against the Centre which has passed the contentious bills in a ‘Hitler style’. We don’t have any problem if someone else takes the lead. I assure the support of the TMC, even if we have to stand in the last line, in this stir for the sake of farmers,” she said.
She further urged farmers, students, teachers and leaders of other political parties to come forward and fight against the Centre for bulldozing the democratic fabric of the country. “They harassed lakhs of students in the name of NEET, JEE and for holding compulsory college/university examinations. Now, they are depriving farmers of the minimum support price (MSP). They are pushing farmers towards death beds. Famers will be left with no other options but to end their lives. These bills will lead to famine in the country.”
Claiming that the bills will also lead to black marketing and it will encourage the ‘racketeer’ and ‘tout’ culture in agriculture, the TMC president said, “Yesterday was a ‘Black Sunday’. We are all struggling with the pandemic and now they passed the bills which will further push weaker sections of a society towards darkness. The coronavirus is already there and now the BJP government at the Centre is pushing us towards ‘marona’ (go and die).”
On Union Labour Ministry’s proposal to bring a law which will allow companies with less than 300 workers to ‘hire and fire’ policy, Banerjee said, “The Centra has already tweaked the labour laws and now it is planning to bring a law that will allow companies to hire and fire. This BJP government is crushing the poor people to make ways for a section of ‘touts’. We strongly condemn this.”
All the party’s district and block-level presidents have been asked to reach out farmers and create awareness about the Centre’s “anti-farmer” policies, she said.
Earlier in the day, Naidu, who termed Sunday’s ruckus in Rajya Sabha as a ‘bad day’, suspended eight MPs, including Trinamool Congress’s Derek O’Brien, Dola Sen, Sanjay Singh (AAP), Rajeev Satav (Congress), KK Ragesh (CPI-M), Ripun Bora (Congress), Syed Nazir Hussain (Congress), and Elamaran Karim (CPI-M) for one week. He, however, overruled a notice for no-confidence motion against Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh moved by the Oppostion leaders and their plea for an adjournment of the proceedings.
The Rajya Sabha passed 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, through voice vote amid the din caused by opposition protests.
Banerjee also extended her support to CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury and Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav, who have been named in the Delhi riots case. She said, “We may have ideological differences but the way they were framed is condemnable. The BJP government is gagging the voice of Opposition leaders and snatching the powers of state governments.”