The Trinamool Congress (TMC) Monday demanded that the Centre bring in a Bill in the upcoming Parliament session to repeal the three farm laws, and said there was “no other shortcut”. TMC leaders said they were confident that the 2021 Assembly polls would throw up victories for non-BJP parties in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Kerala, and that the “real big election” would be in 2024 for the “idea of India”.
At a press meet, TMC MPs Derek O’Brien and Saugata Ray said the party’s stance on farm laws had been consistent. “In this new session of Parliament, the government must bring a Bill to repeal those three laws. There is no other shortcut. There is no other legislative way of doing it. The nation watched as democracy was murdered in Rajya Sabha especially, the Trinamool’s motion was not even voted on. Five days to go for Parliament, we are against this ordinance ordinance business,” O’Brien said.
2-pronged strategy to counter BJP
The TMC’s move to compare schemes of the West Bengal government and the Centre indicates a two-pronged strategy to counter the BJP. On one hand, TMC is playing up the insider-outsider plank, trying to project the BJP as a party that does not respect Bengali culture, and on the other, it is looking to counter it on governance by playing up the performance of the Mamata Banerjee government.
The MPs said that in West Bengal, TMC was focusing on the governance model it had implemented in the last decade. “Let us compare the farmer compensation when it comes to Krishak Bandhu, and compare it to the PM Kisan (Samman Nidhi Yojana)… In Bengal, 5,000 rupees per acre, in PM Kisan, 1214 rupees per acre. In Bengal the scope is for all farmers under Krishak Bandhu. In PM Kisan, it’s only for small and marginal farmers (with holdings) up to two hectares. Coverage in Bengal 100 per cent, PM Kisan 92 per cent,” O’Brien said.
The MPs also spoke of the West Bengal government’s Duare Sarkar scheme, which brings government schemes to the doorstep of citizens, and said of those, the Swasthya Saathi scheme was one of the most popular. “Who finances it? 100 per cent state government. Ayushmaan Bharat 60 per cent centre, 40 per cent by the states… Kanyashree started in 2013 in Bengal against Beti Bachao Beti Padhao. The scheme in Bengal is targeted conditional cash transfer. The Beti Bachao of 2015, there is no well advertised outline. Expenditure: Rs 9,400 crore for one state of Bengal, Beti Bachao Rs 425 crore for all India,” Ray said.
O’Brien said there was indeed a “big election” approaching, but it was in 2024 and not in 2021. “Because the 2021 election, thanks to the blessings of people of Tamil Nadu, the people of Bengal, people of Kerala, the BJP will lose these three elections. Assam from what our understanding is a close election. Why we are saying 2024 is the big election because we have to again fight for the Constitution of India, the idea of India,” O’Brien said.