Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Sougata Ray on Thursday took on the ruling party at the Centre over the a farmer's suicide at a Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) rally, asking the authorities to take care of the pressing problem. [Gajendra Singh's death: A political stunt gone wrong?]
We ask the TMC government of West Bengal: Before accusing other parties and their governments, why don't you resolve the problem of potato farmers in your own state and stop them from committing suicide? Or don't those farmers matter as long as they belong to the remote corners of the nation? [Stop blame game, tweets SRK]
Banning movement of potato has severely hurt farmers
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee banned the sale of potatoes to other states in the recent past to fulfil the needs of her own state. Even though it was lifted, cases of farmers' suicides have continued in the state. [Gajendra Singh was in touch with Manish Sisodia, say kin]
Authorities deny the suicides, say the deaths are caused by domestic problems
The decision to ban inter-state movement of the crop severely hurt the farmers by restricting their markets. The government, however, continued to deny the problem and even termed many of the suicides as results of domestic problems.
The ban crippled the farmers even when unseasonal rain hit the potato yields in Uttar Pradesh while traditional buyers in states like Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand and the northeast reduced their dependence on Bengal for potato supply.
Farmers are forces to sell at lower prices
Bengal's farmers had to bear a massive brunt despite a rich harvest of potato this year. Since the neighbouring states were not buying potato from Bengal, the farmers were forced to sell their crops at a much lesser price (Rs 140 for a 50-kg packet while the cost of production has been around Rs 250) facing huge losses a result.
For a state which saw 40 per cent of its potato production getting exported to other states, it was a life-threatening trouble. But the government and the elite media largely ignored it.
Govt not buying in bulk from the farmers nor the foreign demand is high
The Mamata Banerjee government said it will buy potatoes but the farmers said it was buying potatoes in very small quantities. The government also thought of providing a transport subsidy of Rs 100 per quintal on exports through Kolkata port to clear the stock but since the global demand for Bengal's potatoes is not extra-ordinary, the idea failed to bring any relief for the farmers in distress.
Debts and low remuneration killing farmers despite rich yields
Debt-related problems and the lack of apt remuneration for the crops have pushed potato farmers to take drastic steps in West Bengal. Hooghly, the district of Bengal known to the state's 'tuber bowl' has suffered besides Malda, Howrah, Bankura and Jalpaiguri districts.
Change in land-use pattern is also responsible
The emerging pattern of land transfer from agricultural to non-agricultural purposes has also been another challenge for the farmers to survive.
Did the TMC MPs ever give a thought to these issues? Suddenly they are showing a lot of sympathy for Gajendra Singh, who died in the heart of the country and in full public glare and making it a political issue against Narendra Modi.
Dear Ray, please keep your own house in order before pointing out at others' mistakes.