KOLKATA: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday assured farmer leaders led by Rakesh Tikait and Yudhvir Singh of support to their agitation against the new agriculture laws.
At a meeting with the farmer leaders here during the day, the TMC chief said that there should be a platform where states could converse on policy issues.
"Bulldozing states is not good for the federal structure," she said.
Banerjee's support for the north India-based farmers' unions comes within days of the Trinamool Congress announcing that the party would spread its footprints outside West Bengal's geographical boundaries.
The Bhartiya Kisan Union led by Tikait and Singh had supported the 'No vote for BJP' campaign ahead of the West Bengal assembly elections and have plans to extend that in other upcoming state elections as well.
Banerjee announced after the meeting that her "support for the farmers' movement will be there" and added in an obvious jibe at the Centre that "India is hungrily waiting for policies which help in fighting COVID-19, assist farmers and industry."
The chief minister rhetorically asked, "Why is it so difficult to talk to the farmers?"
She was referring to the breakdown in communication between the Centre and the farmers who have been camping at Delhi's borders for the past one year against three farm laws passed by the Parliament.
The agitators feel the new laws will commercialise agriculture without adequate protection to small farmers from exploitation by large retail chains and industry.
"The BJP rule has been disastrous for all sectors from healthcare to farmers to industry. India is suffering. We are facing both natural and political disasters," Banerjee said.
The chief minister said that the agriculturist leaders have requested her to talk to other state leaders on the farmers' issue and organise a dialogue with farmers' unions.
"The farmers' movement is not just for Punjab, Haryana or Uttar Pradesh. It is for the whole country," she said.
Banerjee also said that it was necessary for states to come together to discuss policy issues and stand together against injustice.