Scaling up the controversy over a reply on farmers’ suicide by the Government, the constituents of erstwhile Janata Parivar have decided to press for the resignation of Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh and give a privilege notice against him in Parliament on Monday.
While JD(U) will give the privilege notice in Rajya Sabha on Monday alleging “deliberate misrepresentation of fact” by the Union minister, former Prime Minister and JD(S) chief H D Devegowda will address a farmers gathering at Jantar Mantar in protest against the reply and subsequent remarks of senior BJP leaders including Finance Minister Arun Jaitely on the issue.
The constituents of Janata Pariwar are raking up the controversy at a time when JD(U) in alliance with Congress and RJD is locked in a tough electoral battle in the agrarian state Bihar, where Assembly polls are due in next few months.
Singh’s reply in Parliament having a reference to love affairs among others being a cause when asked about reasons for farmers’ suicide had triggered a storm on Thursday with Opposition parties accusing Government of being insensitive.
“Devegowda ji will address a meeting of various farmer organisations tomorrow, who are up in arms against the government’s reply and are seeking the resignation of the Agriculture Minister. JD(U) extends its support to the dharna and will be there.
“I urge the leader of the Janata Parivar (yet to be formalised) Mulayam Singh Yadav to sit in solidarity with Devegowda ji in the interest of farmers,” JD(U) General Secretary K C Tyagi told PTI over phone.
He also appealed to the Left parties to come forward and express solidarity on this issue.
Tyagi said the reply by Singh in Rajya Sabha on the issue and subsequent remarks by senior BJP leaders and Union ministers including Jaitley show the “insensitiveness” of the NDA government towards the cause of farmers.
“This is a bigger issue than corruption. It is an insult to farmers. We feel that Singh should also resign and Opposition should now demand resignation of four BJP leaders – the other three being External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje (both on Lalit Modi controversy) and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan,” he insisted.
As the controversy brewed over Singh’s reply, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had yesterday dug out written replies in Parliament during the previous UPA regime, listing out ‘love affair’ as one of the several reasons for farmers’ suicides.
“Replies given in Parliament on the issue of farmers’ suicide during UPA Government,” Jaitley tweeted attaching four answers given during March 2012 and February 2014 in both Houses of Parliament.
Tyagi condemned Jaitley’s remarks saying “instead of talking about the real issue, he is defending the minister citing replies by previous governments.”
Sources in the party said that the JD(U) will move the privilege notice against Singh under Rule 187 in Rajya Sabha accusing him of “not only misleading the House but also making a diversion from the real issue of farmers’ suicide.”
JD(U) is arguing that the member had specifically asked about the reasons behind the suicide of farmers and not the reasons for general suicide, which the minister answered in the written reply.
The Union Agriculture Minister had in a written reply in Rajya Sabha on Thursday listed “indebtedness, crop failure, drought, socio-economic and personal” as reasons for agrarian distress.
“According to NCRB, causes of suicide include family problems, illness, drug abuse/addiction, unemployment, property dispute, professional/career problems, love affairs, barrenness/impotency, cancellation/non-settlement of marriage, dowry dispute, fall in social reputation and unknown causes,” he had said.
Slamming the remarks, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi had suggested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ask his minister to visit the houses of farmers to “see what is going on”.
Samajwadi Party, CPI-M and CPI have also condemned the government over the reply saying it was “irresponsible”, “ridiculous” and showed “callousness” of the government toward the issue of farmer suicide.
The BJP had, however, said that Singh’s statement had been misinterpreted and claimed that the number of farmer suicides has come down due to government’s efforts.
The party in a statement said Singh’s remarks were taken out of context.