Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday ruled out a probe by a team of MLAs belonging to all political parties into reports of farmers' deaths in West Bengal, terming them as incorrect. Her statement came a day after Governor M K Narayanan said such incidents were "unfortunately" taking place in the state.
The chief minister rejected the suggestion made by CPI MP from Midnapore and general secretary of the party's peasant wing Probodh Panda when he met her at the state secretariat, seeking her intervention.
"The chief minister told us that she had inquired into the incidents and found out that the 'campaign' that farmers were committing suicide was not correct. Untrue reports are being published in the media in this regard," Panda said.
"When there is no truth in it, where is the need then for sending such a team?" the CPI leader quoted Banerjee as telling the delegation led by him.
Panda said the delegation members tried to convince the chief minister of the need to form an all-party MLA team, referring to the concern voiced by Narayanan.
"We told her it should be ascertained whether such suicides were due to the distress sale of paddy and other agricultural produce by the farmers in different parts of the state," Panda said.
He said the delegation submitted a nine-point memorandum to her and pointed out that prices of potatoes and other agricultural produce have come down in the markets across the state as the peasants were making distress sale of them.
Panda said they requested Banerjee to provide an economic package to the affected marginal farmers and families of the peasants, who reportedly committed suicide, should also be given compensation and that agricultural debts of the farmers be waived.
"Farmers' suicide is an issue engaging the attention of both the Centre and the state government. Such incidents are unfortunately taking place ... We have to find a way to ensure that this does not happen," Narayanan had told reporters yesterday on the sidelines of an event.