West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday denied reports about farmers’ suicide in the state, a day after CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat held the Trinamool Congress-led government responsible for the suicides.
“Twelve persons died due to some disease and they were not connected to farming, while reports said that some others took heavy loans from banks for personal purposes,” Ms. Banerjee told a Panchayatiraj Sammelan at the Netaji Indoor Stadium.
Challenging the CPI(M) for spreading canards against her government, the chief minister claimed that 199 farmers had been killed by the Left Front while it was in power.
“You should be ashamed of the atrocities committed during your rule on the farmers. You killed farmers, looted them, snatched their produce and drove them out of their fields. We have not forgotten the atrocities on them,” she alleged.
“To safeguard the farmers’ interests, I went on a 26-day fasting in the city in 2006, while farmland was being forcibly acquired. I know farmers’ agony,” Ms. Banerjee said.
She said her government during the seven-month rule introduced Kisan Card and the farmers’ insurance scheme and denied the CPI(M)’s charge that she had kept quiet while the fertiliser price was decontrolled.
Further to her defence, she said she was instrumental in resisting the Centre’s move to raise prices of petroleum products and FDI entry in the retail sector.
Mr. Karat had on Wednesday blamed the policy of the present state government for the suicide of “at least 21 farmers in West Bengal in recent weeks”.
“If you don’t intervene to ensure that farmers get fair or minimum price for procurement and if you don’t take adequate steps to alleviate their indebtedness, this will happen,” Mr. Karat told reporters.