Mamata speaks to farmers protesting at Singhu border, assures TMC's support
New Delhi: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday spoke to the farmers camping at the national Capital's Singhu border protesting the Central farm laws and assured them of her support in their stir, the Trinamool Congress said.
This was the second time in a month that the TMC supremo had a telephonic interaction with the agitating farmers.
Five Trinamool MPs met the farmers at the Singhu Border on Wednesday to show solidarity with them on Kisan Diwas.
"On Mamata Banerjee's direction, a five-member delegation comprising Derek O'Brien, Satabdi Roy, Prasun Banerjee, Pratima Mondal and Md Nadimul Haque on behalf of the All India Trinamool Congress, is meeting and interacting with farmers from who are on a relay hunger strike on the highway at the Singhu Border to show solidarity.
"Farmers in small groups had a telephonic interaction with Mamata Banerjee who assured them of her full solidarity with their movement. Some farmers also requested her to visit the dharna site," the TMC said.
The party also supported the farmers' demand of annulling the contentious farm laws.
During the telephonic conversation, Banerjee said it was unfortunate that the farmers, who feed the entire country, were being forced to go hungry.
"The Trinamool will stand by the farmers in solidarity in their movement to repeal the anti-farmer bills," she assured the farmers.
Several political leaders have echoed Banerjee's thoughts, including Sharad Pawar, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut.
Without naming Union Home minister Amit Shah, TMC's Partha Chatterjee criticised his move of having food at a farmer's house in Bengal as a step to gain publicity when thousands of them are on hunger strike.
Recollecting Banerjee's 26-day hunger strike for farmers' rights, Chatterjee said it is Bengal that was awarded the Krishi Karman Award six times by the Centre itself. "So those who are criticising must go through the facts and figures properly. The Bengal government bears the entire cost for Banglar Shashya Bima while it is the Centre that deprives Bengal by not procuring paddy from them here," Chatterjee said.
Meanwhile, hardening their position, protesting farmer unions on Wednesday asked the government not to repeat the proposal of "meaningless" amendments that they have already rejected but come up with a "concrete" offer in writing for the resumption of talks.
Reading out a reply to the government's talks offer during a press conference, farmers leaders said they are ready for dialogue with an open mind if they get a concrete proposal, but made it clear they will not accept anything less than a complete repeal of the three agriculture laws and legal guarantee for Minimum Support Price (MSP).
Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav said if the government takes one step, farmers will take two, and asked it to stop writing "love letters".
All India Kisan Sabha leader Hannan Molla alleged that the government wanted to tire out the farmers so that the protest would end.
In a letter to Union Agriculture Joint Secretary Vivek Aggarwal, Sankyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of 40 unions protesting at several Delhi border points for the last 27 days, alleged that the government is treating the farmers as its "political opponents".
"We have already told Union Home minister Amit Shah that protesting farmers will not accept amendments," farmer leader Shiv Kumar Kakka told reporters, after a meeting of union leaders that lasted for over three hours.
As the Centre remains locked in a standoff with farmers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will interact with farmers from six states on Friday. On the occasion, Modi will digitally deposit a total of Rs 18,000 crore in the bank accounts of nine crore farmers under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme.
"The farmers will share their experiences with PM-KISAN and also on various other initiatives taken by the government for the welfare of farmers," the PMO said in a statement. Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar will also be present on the occasion.