A team of opposition leaders — mostly Congress and the Left parties — will meet President Ram Nath Kovind this evening to submit a memorandum on the farmers’ issue. The meeting comes amid talk of a rift within the opposition. A section of Trinamool Congress leaders said the party decided to stay away from the meeting with the President, owing to the impression that only the Left parties and the Congress were “dominating the show”.
In all, 24 opposition parties are backing the farmers’ protest and were supposed to submit a memorandum to President Kovind today. But the Rashtrapati Bhavan has decided to allow representatives of only five parties, citing Covid-related restrictions.
The delegation that will meet the President includes Congress’s Rahul Gandhi, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, CPM’s Sitaram Yechury, CPI’s D Raja, and DMK’s TKS Elangovan.
There was a change of plan — that only those attending the meeting with President Kovind will sign the memorandum, since other political parties have already shown support for the farmers’ demand to scrap the Centre’s new farm laws.
Sources in Trinamool Congress indicated that the party was miffed at the decision. The party was considering sending an MP with the delegation but finally decided against it.
“We don’t need any certificate about our commitment to farmers. Mamata Banerjee doesn’t need any certificate,” a leader said, reflecting the mood in the party.
Another senior leader brushed away talks of any divide. “Everyone knows Mamata Banerjee is at the forefront of the farmers’ cause and this is just Sitaram Yechury playing games,” he said.
Opposition parties, which tried to block the farm bills in parliament, had earlier requested the President not to sign on the bills. The bills, they had said, were passed in the Rajya Sabha in an undemocratic manner. The President, however, had given his assent to all three bills.
Yesterday’s countrywide shutdown called by the farmers, had the support of most opposition parties, including the Congress, Aam Aadmi Party, DMK and the Telangana Rashtra Samithi.