KOLKATA: West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee on Monday said she would continue her fight for farmers to ensure the well-being of the "very backbone" of the society.
Her statement comes after her meeting with farmer leader Rakesh Tikait last week. The move is said to be significant as the anti-BJP political parties seem to have decided to sharpen their attack on the issue of farmers’ movement against the Centre’s farm laws.
"On this day, ten years back, the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Bill 2011 was passed in the WB assembly after a long & difficult struggle. We unitedly fought for the rights of our farmers & addressed their grievances, bringing in positive change in their lives," Mamata tweeted.
Taking to Twitter, she further said, "Today, it pains me that across the nation our farmer brethren are suffering owing to the indifference of the Centre. Together, we shall continue our fight to ensure the well-being of the very backbone of our society. Upholding their rights remains a top priority."
After driving out Tata Motors from Singur by spearheading the movement in 2009 against the then Left Front government’s land acquisition policy, West Bengal passed a bill to return the land to its owners.
"The farmers’ movement in Delhi border drew nationwide attention. Asking all oppositions to get united, the CM will use the issue as a political tool to sharpen attacks ahead of the Assembly elections slated to be held next year. She already increased financial assistance for Bengal’s farmers with a goal to build up her farmer-friendly image," said a senior TMC leader.
Last week, the Mamata government doubled the annual financial benefit for farmers. Under the new announcement, farmers with landholding of 1 acre or more would be entitled to receive Rs 10,000 per annum instead of the previous assistance of Rs 5,000. The assistance for those holding land below 1 acre or less and for marginal farmers has been doubled from Rs 2,000 to Rs 4,000 per year.
"She (Mamata) has become an anti-BJP face nationally after her landslide victory in the Assembly elections. Now she is aiming to unite all opposition forces nationally and throw a challenge to the BJP before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Besides, she will use the farmer issue in the Assembly elections scheduled to be held in seven states which include Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat," said another TMC leader.