Cong demands all-party MLA team over farmers death

Congress on Saturday demanded that an all-party team of MLAs be sent to ascertain the cause of the death of peasants, especially in Burdwan district.

Last Updated: Jan 21, 2012, 19:50 PM IST

Kolkata: Notwithstanding Chief Minister
Mamata Banerjee`s denial of reports of farmers` suicide, ally
Congress on Saturday demanded that an all-party team of MLAs be sent
to ascertain the cause of the death of peasants, especially in
Burdwan district, the rice bowl of Bengal.

"I feel it is unfortunate that information has come to
us about the death of 24 farmers. The government should set
up a committee comprising legislators from all political
parties to ascertain the cause of the death of farmers in
several districts including in Burdwan," WBPCC chief Pradip
Bhattacherjee told reporters.

Bhattacherjee claimed that officers were giving "cooked
up" reports to the Chief Minister on farmers` suicides.
He, however, refused to comment on whether he was trying
to give a clean chit to Banerjee on the issue by criticising
the officers for not "properly presenting facts to her",
saying "it is a system that officers give reports to the Chief
Minister".

"The Chief Minister should come out of this system and
should herself enquire to find out the truth instead of
depending on the reports being given to her by her officers",
Bhattacherjee said.

He said officers were dishing out reports to Banerjee
claiming that farmers have committed suicide driven by
depression and failure to meet the loans taken by them.

"What is the harm in acknowledging fact that they have
committed suicide by not getting proper support price of
paddy," he said, adding that it was high time the Chief
Minister should conduct a proper enquiry involving legislators
of all the parties.

Bhattacherjee`s demand came following the recent spat
between the two allies after the state Congress organised
street protests on issues like renaming of the Indira Bhawan
and paddy procurement prices which prompted the Chief Minister
to dare the Congress to break the alliance in the state.

The Trinamool Congress and Congress share power in West
Bengal, although the Trinamool, with 185 legislators, is not
dependent on the Congress to run the government.
Bhattacherjee said "the Congress has decided to hold an
inquiry into the matter independently and I have asked our
partymen to visit the victims` houses to ascertain the cause
behind the deaths".

He also urged the state government to extend financial
assistance to the victims` families. At a party rally here on
January 19, Banerjee denied reports about farmers` suicide in
the state even as the Opposition CPI(M) held the Trinamool
Congress-led government responsible.

"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," Banerjee had
told a Panchayati Raj Sammelan at the Netaji Indoor Stadium.

PTI