Mamata, governor differ on farm suicides (Lead)

January 24th, 2012 - 12:24 am ICT by IANS  

Mamata Banerjee Kolkata, Jan 23 (IANS) Amid a political storm over farmers’ suicides in West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Monday said only one peasant had taken his life during her tenure. However, Governor M.K. Narayanan said the trend was more widespread.

“During the erstwhile Left Front government, around 189 farmers committed suicide only in 2009-10. And during our regime, only one farmer has taken his life,” Banerjee said at a function to celebrate the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.

The Congress, whose ties with the ruling Trinamool Congress have been strained in the recent past, and the Left Front alleged that 25 farmers had ended their lives in the first eight months of the Mamata Banerjee government due to farm debts.

“I do not want farmers to commit suicide. They (the opposition and media) are saying that many farmers have committed suicide. This is not right. Only one peasant took his own life during my tenure,” she stated.

Banerjee has earlier also denied the allegation that the deaths were linked to the farmers’ debt burden.

“They had personal problems, family issues, they had huge personal loans, running into even a crore. And some of those being mentioned have died of diseases, and have not committed suicide,” she had stated.

Governor M.K. Narayanan, however, said many agriculturists owed huge sums and the government should find a solution.

“That (farmers’ suicides) is an issue engaging the attention of the central and state (Bengal) governments. Farmers’ suicides are unfortunately taking place. We have to find ways to ensure that it does not happen,” Narayanan told reporters here.

“Many of them, I suppose, are deeply in debt,” he added.

State Agriculture Minister Rabindranath Bhattacharya said Jan 16 that three farmers committed suicide in the state but not because of debt.

The opposition Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) has accused the government of failing to provide minimum support price to farmers in Burdwan.

Even the Congress has repeatedly alleged that farmers were not getting minimum support prices. Party cadres recently staged demonstrations in various districts.

Most suicides - at least 17 - have occurred in the fertile Burdwan district, earlier known as the rice bowl of Bengal. Suicides have also occurred in Bankura, Hooghly, Malda and Jalpaiguri districts.

Taking a dig at the Lefts, state Agricultural Marketing Minister Arup Roy alleged that during the CPI-M-led Left Front rule, a total of 15,725 farmers had ended their lives.

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