Farmer suicide issue in MP

L.S. Herdenia

The debate on an adjournment motion tabled by the Opposition in the MP Vidhan Sabha on the plight of farmers saw strange arguments being put forward by the ruling party legislators, including senior ministers, while listing the causes for suicides by farmers.
For example senior minister Gopal Bhargava attributed the suicides to intoxication, poverty and diseases. He claimed that out of 120 cases, only six were due to indebtedness. He squarely held the Congress responsible and said the party had misled the farmers. The conditions of farmers were worse off in Bundelkhand and Baghelkhand areas, he argued. “But why did the agitation turn violent in the relatively prosperous Malwa region?” he asked.
The speakers from the treasury benches also reeled out statistics to prove how well-off the farmers in the state were and how the Chouhan government had turned the state into a ‘paradise’ for cultivators. “When the state is a leader in agricultural production, it is self-evident that the farmers must be prosperous,” Bhargava said.
Kailash Chawla, BJP MLA from Mandsaur, described the agitation as ‘a well-planned conspiracy of the Congress which has a history of whipping up violence.’ Minister of state Vishwas Sarang went a step further alleging that the ‘conspiracy’ was hatched at the AICC office and Rahul Gandhi had visited Mandsaur to ‘see its climax’. He called the protests ‘orchestrated’.
Congress members refuted the arguments and ridiculed the manner in which the farmers' agitation was handled by the government. It was not only ruthless but also funny. Making fun of the CM’s fast-unto-death, Congress member Mahendra Singh Kalukheda said it was probably for the first time that members of bereaved families were summoned to Bhopal so that the CM could offer condolences to them. Jitu Patwari accused Chouhan of ‘shamelessly sticking to his chair’ and making scapegoats of the collector and SP of Mandsaur.
The Opposition benches asked why the government had failed to determine who had ordered firing on the farmers. When the Home Minister said a judicial commission was probing the incident, they sought to know whatever had happened to the 12 judicial commissions appointed by the government as their reports have not been tabled yet.
However, the issues of farmers were missing from the speeches, barring passing references to loan waiver. Some opposition members wanted to know why the government could not waive farmers' loans when the Maharashtra, Punjab and UP governments had done so. Replying to the debate on the adjournment motion, chief minister Shivraj Singh alleged that it was Congress that turned the peaceful agitation of farmers violent by inciting the farmers. He assured the house that whoever was responsible for the Mandsaur firing would not be spared. He said that the day on which police opened fire on the farmers was the most unfortunate day of his life,
Regarding his decision to give Rs 1 crore as compensation to the families of the deceased farmers, he said he was not the one to tread the beaten path. He said the families were dependent on the farmers and “after a while, sympathy would have evaporated and the families would have been left to fend for themselves.” He said this when a member mentioned that the families of martyrs got only Rs 25 lakh as compensation.
Chouhan appealed to the members not to politicize the issue of farmer suicides and pointed out that thousands of farmers had committed suicide during the Congress regime that lasted from 1993 to 2003. He blamed moneylenders for driving the farmers to suicide and said a law having tough provisions for dealing with such moneylenders was pending for Presidential approval. Referring to the criticism of his fast-unto-death, the chief minister said he never contemplated bringing the families of the dead farmers to the fast venue.
Holding the factional infighting within the BJP responsible for the farmers' unrest, leader of Opposition Ajay Singh alleged that it was a well-planned conspiracy to put the blame on Congress for the agitation. He expressed the view that the chief minister probably did not get a correct feedback on the seething unrest among the farmers. If he had talked with other farmer organisations, besides Kisan Sangh, the agitation would not have turned so aggressive, Ajay Singh said. He suggested that the chief minister should have visited Mandsaur immediately after the firing incident and said it was painful that the Prime Minister did not even care to express condolences the victims’ families. Singh claimed that an FIR was registered even before the vehicle of the collector had been vandalised at Belanpur, but no such FIR has been registered in the firing incident. (IPA)

Wednesday, 26 July, 2017