The ruling TMC in West Bengal has decided to extend its "moral support" to the December 8 nationwide strike called by farmers in protest against the new agriculture laws, and the party, in solidarity, would stage sit-ins in various areas for three days, a senior leader said. Addressing a press meet here, TMC MP Sudip Bandopadhyay said his party, during its protest programmes in Bengal, would seek immediate withdrawal of the farm laws, and that new bills be sent to the standing committee or select committee of Parliament after due deliberations with all stakeholders.
"Our leader CM Mamata Banerjee has pledged wholehearted support to the movement of farmers. Yesterday, she announced a three-day common minimum programme for street protests in solidarity. We demand immediate withdrawal of the farm laws," Bandyopadhyay, who was accompanied by SAD leader Prem Singh Chandumajra at the meet, said. Bandopadhyay, however, underlined that the ruling party would not enforce shutdown anywhere in the state or block roads during the protest.
Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have come out on the streets, seeking a rollback of the farm laws, which was enacted earlier this year. The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), which was a part of the BJP-led NDA, quit the coalition in September following the passage of the contentious legislation. Chandumajra, who was here along with other leaders of his party to hold a meeting with TMC leaders, said the protest against the "draconian" laws not just concerns the farmers but "it is a movement of everyone — workers, labourers, transporters. Even the Prime Minister of Canada is also sympathetic to the cause." Maintaining that the TMC has agreed to carry out a sustained movement against the farm laws, he said, "We want political parties to come to our side… stand by the agitating farmers.
"Didi had outlined, during her telephonic talks with SAD leaders, how to carry forward this movement. Today we held talks with TMC leaders Sudip Bandyopadhyay and Derek O' Brien and West Bengal labour minister Moloy Ghatak. The outcome was a positive one," the senior leader of the Punjab-based party told reporters here. Contending that the SAD was establishing contacts with all regional parties, he said, "In the next one week, we will be holding meetings in Delhi to fine tune our strategy. In a federal structure, states should be taken into confidence by the Centre before tabling such bills in Parliament. The new laws would only benefit corporate houses." TMC Rajya Sabha leader Derek O' Brien had on Friday met the agitating farmers at the Delhi-Haryana border. He spent almost four hours with the protesters and facilitated interactions over the phone between the Bengal CM and representatives of various farmers' groups.