Claiming that there had been a rise in farmer suicides in both West Bengal and Kerala after non-Left governments came to power, Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Prakash Karat said here on Tuesday that the policies of the State government had also influenced the phenomenon.

Criticising the policies of successive governments at the Centre for the “large scale agrarian distress” in the country which saw 2,56,913 farmers commit suicide, Mr. Karat said that while the phenomenon was rampant in States like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra, it had not been seen in West Bengal.

“I'm told that at least 21 farmers have committed suicides in the recent weeks in West Bengal. This is also related to the policies of the State government. If you do not intervene to see that farmers get a fair or minimum price for procurement, if you do not take steps to alleviate their indebtedness – this will happen,” Mr. Karat said.

He cited the example of Wayanad district in Kerala, which has witnessed “seven farmer suicides in the last month and a half since the Congress-led government came to power.”

Until 2006, there were a number of suicides by farmers Wayanad district. The Left Democratic Front came to power in May 2006 and took some measures. They passed a law in the Assembly whereby they set up a commission for indebtedness. Farmers could approach the commission to get relief from their debt, he said.