Amidst the ongoing protests against the newly introduced farm bills and the call for ‘Bharat Bandh’ by farmer unions on Tuesday, the Trinamool Congress has expressed reluctance over the idea of a nationwide strike. While more than a dozen Opposition parties have been vocal about their support, the TMC has rather chosen to extend its ‘moral support’.
Senior party leader and MP Saugata Roy said that while the party stands by the agitating ‘farmers’, TMC will not support the Bharat Bandh by the farmers in the State of West Bengal. “It goes against our principles,” he emphasised.
Trinamool Congress (TMC) stands with agitating farmers but we will not support Bharat bandh in West Bengal. It (bandh) goes against our principles: TMC MP Saugata Roy pic.twitter.com/OhJDPaKU5D— ANI (@ANI) December 7, 2020
While addressing a gathering in Midnapore on Monday, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also informed that the government does not support the idea of bandh but will extend their support to the farmers’ movement.
Our government doesn’t support bandh but Trinamool Congress (TMC) will support the farmers’ movement: West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee in Midnapore. (7.12) pic.twitter.com/zUuhgAseO3— ANI (@ANI) December 8, 2020
While demanding the withdrawal of farm bills, she said, “I have not forgotten Singur, I have not forgotten… I am promising full support to the farmers.” While she made it clear that TMC would not support Bandhs, she said, “we are supporting the demands being made by farmers tomorrow.”
TMC’s politics in Bengal
The ‘moral support’ of Trinamool Congress to the Bharat Bandh is rooted in the party’s history and the politics of West Bengal. During the 34-year Communist rule in West Bengal, the state was marred with recurring strikes, by unions backed by the CPI(M). To mark a departure from the traditional practice that saw large-scale businesses loss in the state, the TMC has been dead against the idea of strikes.
It is pertinent to remember that Mamata Banerjee had also ‘penalised’ strikes in the State by government employees to prevent loss of working days. As such, despite being a vocal critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP, the TMC had to deviate from its usual vocal stand to a rather passive one. With the upcoming Assembly elections in mind, Mamata Banerjee is ensuring that the electorates do not assume her party to toe the line of the Communists who ruled the state earlier.
However, this stance of the party has cast aspersions about the ‘Opposition unity’ in orchestrating a formidable mass agitation against the ruling dispensation. TMC spokesperson Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar said, “This time it is the cause…it is in the interest of farmers that TMC is supporting the protests.”