The Congress and the CPI(M) slammed the Narendra Modi government on Wednesday over the police firing in Mandsaur that killed five farmers, saying the Centre had forgotten its promises and neglected them. Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said the BJP government had forgotten its promise of providing a minimum support price to farmers plus a 50 per cent profit. He said Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi would go to Mandsaur to meet the farmers’ families on Thursday.
“The BJP has almost been acting like the curse of death for Indian farmers, literally not figuratively,” he said. “Have you ever heard of internet being disconnected outside Kashmir, that too over a farmers’ protest. That is what this government is doing. It is not looking into their demands. It is turning a deaf ear. It is not giving a healing touch. On top of that, it is throttling their voice. It is preventing communication,” Singhvi said in a news conference.
“Take any criteria. Adequate fair price for crops, doubling farm income, crop insurance… None of these have come true. And demonetisation hit the farmers the most. It reduced their income by 50 per cent minimum. They were forced to destroy their produce,” he added. Reeling out figures, he said 12,360 farmers committed suicide in 2014, which went up to 12,602 in 2015 and 14,000 in 2016. The figures translate to 35 suicides a day. At the same time, procurement of foodgrain has come down. “Is this government waging a war against farmers,” he asked.
Singhvi questioned why the “PM not yet said a word about the terrible tragedy in Mandsaur”. He pointed out that there “was lot of hype and hoopla about starting a Kisan DD television channel. Did the Kisan channel show the Mandsaur episode. This government is only interested in media management. It is not interested in addressing their issues… The BJP manifesto had promised MSP plus 50 per cent profit… The government later told the Supreme Court in an affidavit that it is not possible to give this price.”
CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury alleged that the Centre and the Chouhan government had not only neglected farmers but prosecuted them and pushed them towards committing suicide. He too mentioned the block on internet access. “The state government has actually prohibited the use of any internet or WiFi to control the flow of information and they are fabricating all sorts of news. The issue is very clear. The farmers were on a very peaceful protest, they are demanding what the government itself had promised, that is the loan waiver and the minimum support price etc,” Yechury said.
The CPI(M) leader took a swipe at the government for coming out with advertisements in newspapers on Wednesday in which the Centre’s initiatives for the agriculture sector were mentioned. Yechury said: “It is the irony of our times that today you find a full page advertisement of Prime Minister Modi and all the great things he has done for Indian agriculture. Whereas in reality, we can see the state of our farmers. We demand that the culprits must be brought to book immediately, adequate compensation should be given and the demands of the farmers should be met.”