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West Bengal being blind to farmer suicides: Karat

Shiv Sahay Singh
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Farmers unable to bear the costs of agricultural inputs: Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee

CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee addressing a massive rally at the open session of the 23rd State Conference in Kolkata on Sunday.Photo: Sushanta Patronobish
CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee addressing a massive rally at the open session of the 23rd State Conference in Kolkata on Sunday.Photo: Sushanta Patronobish

Charging the Trinamool Congress-led government with failing to admit the prevalence of farmers' suicides in the State, Prakash Karat, general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) said here on Sunday that such suicides were “not seen or heard of” when the Left Front was in power for 34 years. 

“The government is not ready to accept that the farmers are in distress, that they are committing suicide,” Mr. Karat said, speaking at the open session of the CPI(M)'s 23{+r}{+d}State conference here.

Stating that 32 or 33 farmers had committed suicide in the State, Mr. Karat said the present plight of farmers was a result of them not getting a fair price for their produce and the State government not procuring their produce.

Mr. Karat said there is a similar situation is in Kerala where 32 farmers have committed suicide in last three months after the Congress-led government came to power there.

No incident of farmers' suicides was reported when the Left Democratic Front Government (LDF) when it was in power in that State, he said. 

“Whether it is West Bengal or Kerala, the rights of farmers are protected only when Left Front governments are in power,” Mr. Karat said.

Former West Bengal Chief Minister and CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee also criticised the State government for not admitting the prevalence of farmers' suicides in the State. 

“The government is saying nothing has happened. Only one person has committed suicide… It is only when there is no option left that a farmer commits suicide,” he said.

Mr. Bhattacharjee said it was unprecedented for farmers in the State to be running from pillar to post not knowing where to go to sell their produce.

“The State has never witnessed a ‘change' where farmers are being left with no option but taking their lives one after another,” Mr. Bhattacharjee said.

Pointing out that there was nothing new in farmers taking recourse to loans to cultivate their land, he said for so long (when the Left Front was in power) the farmers were able to repay their loan as they were in a position to sell their produce for a remunerative price. But now they are being forced to make distress sales much below the minimum support price because of the State government's failure to protect their interests. 

“Which way is the government going? Had the farmers wanted such a change in the State,” Mr. Bhattacharjee said, adding that the coming boro paddy crop production would be half of what it has been in previous years as cultivation would be affected because farmers were not in a position to bear the costs of agricultural inputs due to penury.


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