KOLKATA: Alleging that 34 debt-stressed farmers and agricultural labourers have committed suicide in West Bengal in the recent past, state Congress president Somen Mitra on Sunday ridiculed the Trinamool Congress government's claims that peasants' income has tripled since it came to power in 2011.
Joining issue with senior Trinamool leader and state Urban Development and Municipal Affairs Minister Firhad Hakim, Mitra said: "The situation in the state is such that 34 farmers and agricultural workers have taken their own lives over the past eight months as they were debt-stressed.
"But the problem is the state government is in a denial mode. The minister claims that farmers' income has tripled. Why would the farmers commit suicide then?"
Assailing the state government, Mitra said when distressed farmers throw their produce like potato, chillies and vegetables on the highway, then the state ministers remain mum.
"Due to the inefficiency of this government, the famers do not get the minimum support price and are forced to sell their produce at a very low price to middlemen backed by the Trinamol."
Regarding unemployment, Mitra accused the state government of resorting to statistical jugglery to downplay the number of jobless people in the state.
"But any discerning observer would find the real situation diametrically opposite to the government's projections. School Service Commission candidates are on indefinite hunger strike. Our youths are getting killed in other states where they had gone in search of jobs. If there are adequate job opportunities in Bengal, then why are they being forced to move to other states?" he asked.
Referring to Congress President Rahul Gandhi's speech at an election rally in Malda district's Chanchal, Mitra said he has highlighted the true picture of the state.
On Hakim's criticism that Gandhi was ignorant about the state due to the state Congress'ss failure in feeding him the proper data, Mitra said "Firhad has also commented that Gandhi's allegations will strengthen the hands of the BJP.
"Nothing can be further from truth. The leader who is giving sleepless nights to BJP across the country, and under whose leadership the Congress has defeated the BJP in three key states, is now being given a bad name. Nothing can be more unfortunate."