On a day the Trinamool Congress along with the Opposition increased pressure on the Centre protesting the controversial farm bills saying they were “anti-farmer”, West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar took to Twitter asking the state’s chief minister to not shed “crocodile tears”. Dhankhar posted on his Twitter account a letter he wrote to Banerjee on Monday in which he wrote: “Denial of the benefits of the Kisan Samman Nidhi to over 70 lakh farmers in the State on account of the laxity and inaction of the State Government is hurting them, especially during these stressed and crisis times.”

Mamata Banerjee herself did not respond to the tweet directly, instead, the West Bengal government, in its official Twitter account Egiye Bangla, posted a letter written by Banerjee to the Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar. The letter – written on September 9 – mentions that “on different occasions it is heard” that the Bengal government is not implementing the Centre’s PM Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme launched by the Central government. She wrote that before this scheme was launched, the state government had introduced the Krishak Bandhu scheme “to provide financial assistance to farmers including sharecroppers.”

The letter mentions that under this scheme, every farmer/sharecropper receives Rs 5,000 from the government, offers death benefit of Rs 2 lakh, and that 73 lakh farmers are already benefitting from it. Also, there is crop insurance for farmers in which the entire premium is paid by the state government. “So you can understand that the state government has provided adequate assistance to the farming community of Bengal and for this we have to spend a huge amount of fund every year from the state budget,” the letter adds. The CM has also mentioned that the government will be happy to provide benefits of the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi to the farmers and the Centre can transfer the funds to the state for this.

While all this was written on September 9, the Governor in his tweet on Tuesday wrote: “Why deny @MamataOfficial benefit Rs 8,400 crores to 70 lac WB farmers by failure to participation in PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi! So far every farmer has lost Rs 12,000 that would have come to his bank account. Urge CM – Crocodile Tears will not relieve pain of farmers. Farmers in the Country, except WB have enormously benefited from PM-Kisan scheme and so far more than Rs 92,000 crores have been defrayed to them. This palpable injustice to WB farmers is poor politics and bad economics…. Due to inactions @MamataOfficial WB farmers have been denied benefit of Rs 30,000 crores out of Rs 3.5 lakh crores package by Central Government during the COVID pandemic. Expect CM to reflect and take steps so that WB farmers get benefit of ongoing PM-KISAN.” In his letter to the CM, Dhankhar also wrote that “confrontational stance at the cost of farmers’ suffering is indeed worrisome”.

The Governor and the CM have had bitter exchanges several times in the past. Not so long ago, Banerjee had said that Dhankhar was not only overstepping his limits, but also doing “more than what a BJP mouthpiece” would have.

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