The ongoing farmers’ protests in Delhi have been co-opted by opportunist politicians and ‘activists’ trying to mount an attack against the Modi government. After political parties such as Congress, Samajwadi Party and self-described activists such as Yogendra Yadav tried to exploit the agitation to further their propaganda, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, too, has jumped into the fray, in a bid to whip up anti-BJP sentiment ahead of the upcoming state elections in 2021.
At a rally in West Bengal’s West Midnapore, Banerjee contended that the Centre must withdraw the farm bills or step down from the government.
BJP govt at Centre must withdraw farm bills or step down: Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee at rally in West Midnapore— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) December 7, 2020
“The BJP government (at the Centre) should immediately withdraw the farm bills or step down. It should not continue
to remain in power after sacrificing the rights of the farmers,” she declaimed.
Mamata Banerjee passed similar Farm Laws in West Bengal in 2014
While Ms Banerjee held forth on how the farm bills are not in the interest of the farmers and the urgent need to repeal them, she had passed similar agriculture laws in West Bengal in 2014 which she is vehemently opposing today. This was brought to fore by a social media user who goes by Twitter handle @BefittingFacts. The social media user alleged that the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC government had passed similar agriculture laws in West Bengal in 2014. The user shared screenshots from TMC websites to substantiate his assertions.
The article titled “WB Assembly passes Agricultural Marketing Bill” was published on the official website of Trinamool Congress on December 8, 2014, about six years before the Modi government passed the three farm laws. The article stated that the bill was passed by the West Bengal Assembly in order to curb the menace of the “middlemen”.
The article further added that the Bill would “promote the formation of new markets where farmers can directly sell the product to the end-users”. It stated that Government regulation will ensure a greater degree of assurance to both the farmers and the customers while being beneficial to the exchequer.
These are precisely the same reasons why the Modi government has passed the three new farms bills in the parliament. The agriculture laws promulgated by the Centre is directed at unlocking new opportunities for the farmers while eliminating the role of middlemen in the agriculture trade.
Mamata Banerjee eyes forthcoming state elections with her attack against the Centre on Farm Bills
Though Mamata Banerjee had passed similar agriculture laws in 2014, she is opposing them now because it suits her political convenience. West Bengal is all set for the state assembly elections in 2021. The BJP has already made strong inroads in the West Bengal politics with winning 18 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the 2019 General elections. The election tide in the West Bengal already seems to be turning in the favour of the BJP as TMC is plagued by resentment and rebellion among its ranks.
With the state elections approaching and TMC teetering on the edge of a political crisis, the attack against the Centre on the new Farm Bills was just a dishonest attempt by Mamata Banerjee to exploit the ongoing farmers’ protests to her advantage by portraying the BJP-led Centre as against the welfare of the farmers and thereby turn the odds of the WB assembly elections in her favour.