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Congress slams Maharashtra minister's remarks on farmers

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  12 May 2015 12:00 AM GMT

Mumbai/Yavatmal, May 11: The Congress on Monday criticised the “irresponsible” statements by a minister of the BJP-Shiv Se government in Maharashtra on the sensitive issue of farmers’ suicides. State Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said utterances from Agriculture Minister Ekth Khadse that tribal farmers don’t commit suicides as they were ‘morally strong’ and that the government has no solutions to end farmland suicides keep coming forth with regularity. “The government has not extended sufficient relief, but only made empty promises,” Sawant said. He said farmers battered by tural calamities like drought, unseasol rains and hailstorms have not got proper prices for produce, and on top of it, the government was tring to impose the new land acquisition norms on them.

“Under these circumstances, the state has witnessed an unprecedented increase in farmers’ suicides, and the government is misleading the people on such a serious issue,” Sawant said. In a related development, the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS) has decided to move the Bombay High Court against the government over Khadse’s recent comments. Speaking from Yavatmal, VJAS president Kishore Tiwari told IANS that they would move a special application in their pending public interest litigation on farmers’ issues.

“The government is totally misleading the people. Prime Minister rendra Modi says no government can give minimum support prices, union minister Nitin Gadkari says farmers must not relay on government or god for help, Chief Minister Devendra Fadvis says no relief packages can solve farmers suicides. “The latest is Khadse who has even raised the issue of morality of the dead farmers,” Tiwari said. VJAS activists also burnt effigies and posters of Khadse to protest his remarks. “The farmers also demand that the minister clarify his remarks — whether he implies that the other non-tribal farmers who ended their lives were ‘immoral’ or not,” Tiwari told IANS.

He said there was massive unrest against the government apathy towards the serious agrarian crises in Vidarbha and other parts of the state following spells of drought, unseasol rains and hailstorms. “In such a situation, the minister’s remarks are insensitive and condemble. The same BJP during the 2014 Lok Sabha and assembly election campaign had promised to resolve the agrarian crisis after coming to power. In less than a year, they raise questions of morality and admit lack of solutions,” Tiwari added. He lamented that over the past nearly two decades, there have been dozens of committees, commissions and expert panel reports on the farmland crises, and now Fadvis was inviting Israeli experts, and yet Khadse feels there was no solution to the problems. Tiwari reiterated that as per government records, more than 50 percent of the farmers who ended their lives belonged to the Scheduled Tribes, Notified Tribes and Scheduled Castes who are denied institutiol credit, exploited by private money lenders and have no access to government welfare schemes.

Earlier, the VJAS provided mes of many tribal farmers who committed suicide this year alone and challenged Khadse to go and persolly verify their credentials. Tiwari said the agrarian crisis became critical owing to introduction of new seeds and new cultivation methods, besides cash crops replacing sustaible drought-prone food crops around the state since 1998. (IANS)

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