West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today reached out to farmers protesting on the Haryana-Delhi border against the three Central farm laws, saying she fully backed the demand for the ordinances' withdrawal.
"Thank you for fighting for your rights. Your fight is my fight," she told farmers over phone.
In a tweet, she recalled her own hunger strike in 2006. Ms Banerjee is meeting with party leaders today and is expected to announce programmes to protest the farm laws in the coming days.
14 years ago on 4 Dec 2006, I began my 26 day hunger strike in Kolkata demanding that agricultural land cannot be forcefully acquired. I express my solidarity with all farmers who are protesting against draconian farm bills passed without consultation by Centre#StandWithFarmers— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) December 4, 2020
Trinamool Rajya Sabha MP Derek O'Brien, who reached Singhu this morning at the Delhi-Haryana border, connected her to farmer groups over phone which was put on speaker mode so that several people there could hear her speak.
"I want to thank you for raising the farmer issue. I also went on a 26-day hunger strike when the land of farmers was being forcibly seized. That is why your movement is my movement and we are ready to extend any help you need. If you want," Ms Banerjee said.
"I can even send people to be with you. The anti-farmer laws must be withdrawn. You must keep up your movement till they are withdrawn," she added.
She called the changes to the Essential Commodities Act wrong and said the central government had brought in many laws forcibly.
"They think people have voted for them so they can do anything, sell the country. We don't want Modi to sell the country. That's why we must work together and make India the India of farmers, of workers, mothers and sisters," she told the farmers.
Thanking her for the support, representatives of farmer groups said, "Her support is very valuable. We always knew Mamata 'behenji' works for India, its people and minorities."
In West Bengal, however, opposition parties are questioning Ms Banerjee's "sudden" support for farmers from Punjab and Haryana when those in her own state were allegedly suffering.
The BJP's Samik Bandopadhyay said, "Just to divert attention from burning issues in Bengal, the chief minister is suddenly taken up the farmer issue."
CPM leader Mohammed Salim, too, tweeted saying it took Ms Banerjee nine days to get "concerned" about farmers.