Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh dismissed the farmers’ protest in various parts of the country as a few vying for media attention. His remark drew strong reactions from the Opposition parties that demanded his resignation. On Saturday, the union minister claimed that there will always be organisations which will resort to “unusual deeds” among the 12-14 crore farmers in India.
“It requires some unusual deeds to appear in the media. The country has about 12-14 crore farmers. There will always be organisations with a following of a few thousand,” Singh told reporters at a press conference when asked about the agitation. Follow farmers agitation LIVE UPDATES here.
Farmers have launched a 10-day stir demanding loan waiver and adequate compensation for their produce. The strike, declared by the All India Kisan Mahasangh, is being staged in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh among other states. The supply of milk, fruits and vegetables has been disrupted in several cities and towns.
The minister was slammed by opposition parties in Bihar that accused him of being “insensitive” to the farmers’ plight. “It is the height of insensitivity on part of the Union agriculture minister at a time when farmers are under so much distress. He should be sacked immediately,” RJD spokesman Manoj Jha told PTI.
“Radha Mohan Singh’s comments is part of a series of uncharitable remarks made by BJP leaders against farmers. We wonder if (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi sees him as a poster boy for his proclamation of ‘sabka saath sabka vikas,” Jha said.
Congress MLA Sadanand Singh said the BJP has been ridiculing the distressed farmers instead of solving their problems. “The remarks of the Union agriculture minister are insensitive. Thirty-five farmers in the country commit suicide every 24 hours, but the Modi government seems to be impervious to their plight,” he said in a statement.
Jitan Ram Manjhi, former Bihar chief minister and Hindustani Awam Morcha founder, said that Singh’s statements are a “reflection of his feudal mindset”. “We demand that Prime Minister Narendra Modi immediately sack the anti-farmer agriculture minister,” he added.
Meanwhile, the strongest condemnation came from Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who called the Union minister’s remarks bizarre and sought his resignation. “It is not the protest which is bizarre, but the union minister’s statement,” Amarinder said, adding, “When a minister entrusted with the welfare of the farmers cannot relate to their problems and is absolutely indifferent to their plight, one can well imagine which way the country is headed.”
The Punjab CM further said farmers were committing suicide out of sheer desperation and blamed the Centre for their failure to waive the debts.”When the farmers, who feed the nation, are forced to resort to such extreme steps, including taking to the streets to draw attention to their pitiable condition, then it does not augur well for the country,” he said. The CM also demanded that the farmers be paid the due price for their produce and in toto implementation of the Swaminathan Commission report.
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar statement on June 1 also evoked sharp reactions from the Opposition. Khattar said that farmers “don’t have any issues, they are just focusing on unnecessary things. Not selling produce will bring losses to farmers”.