BJP on Tuesday kicked off a three-day long sit-in demonstration at Singur to protest against the alleged apathy of the state government towards the plight of farmers.
The development comes days after the BJP-led central government was forced to roll back three contentious farm laws.
Top leaders of the state BJP — chief and MP Sukanta Majumdar, his predecessor Dilip Ghosh and leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari — attended the demonstration, which was organised by the Kisan Morcha, the party’s farmers’ wing.
Leaders of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha — the umbrella organisation of several farmers’ unions which led the farmers’ movement against the central laws nationally — have criticised the BJP’s “sudden show of love for farmers” and called their protest an “eyewash”.
Hannan Mollah, the general secretary of the All India Kisan Sabha and an SKM leader, said the BJP’s bid to establish itself in Bengal had turned it towards the farmers.
“They (BJP leaders) aren’t actually sympathetic towards the farmers. This (the protest) is a political drama, an eyewash,” Mollah told The Telegraph.
“BJP has a farmers’ wing, which is just an ornamental organisation and does no real work for the farmers. Instead, it has tried to sabotage the farmers’ movement,” he added. However, he did admit that the plight of Bengal farmers was of concern.
In Singur, the BJP leaders raised multiple demands, including the announcement of a compensation package for farmers who lost their crops in heavy rain. One of the demands sought a compensation of Rs 20 lakh for the families of the farmers who committed suicide.
They have also said if these demands aren’t met, the Kisan Morcha will organise a march to the state secretariat.
Balurghat MP Majumdar also used the platform for farmers’ protests to hit out at chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s plans to expand her party in Goa.
“Chief minister is going around in Goa…. She has said she will turn Goa into Bengal. Migrant labourers from several districts of Bengal go to work in Goa. If she turns Goa into Bengal, labourers from that state will have to go somewhere else to find work,” Majumdar said.
Tuesday’s protest was initially marked by confusion as the BJP said that the police had denied permission to set up a stage in Singur. However, later the police allowed a stage to be built but put a cap on the number of people who can attend the protest. A stage was later set up where the event will continue for the next two days.
Ghosh, Majumdar and BJP leader Rahul Sinha led a rally from Singur to the protest site before the sit-in protest started. However, sources said that the party has failed to mobilise enough farmers for the protest.
“They (BJP leaders) have realised that they will not be successful in the Calcutta civic polls. This is why they have gone to Singur to divert attention…People of Singur have already said that they don’t want them. They want the Trinamul Congress,” said Trinamul leader and state minister Firhad Hakim.