While a mammoth agitation by farmers is on at the national capital, Karnataka’s Minister for Agriculture B.C. Patil found himself at the centre of a controversy over his alleged remarks against farmers committing suicide.
Former Chief Ministers H.D. Kumaraswamy and Siddaramaiah were quick to denounce the Minister for describing farmers committing suicide as “cowards”, with the JD(S) leader urging Mr. Patil to apologise to the farming community.
Participating in a programme at Ponnampet in Kodagu on Thursday, Mr. Patil had urged farmers not to commit suicide.
“Farmers should not commit suicide. Those who commit suicide are cowards. Whatever may be the reason, they should not take such a step. They should fight against problems and emerge out of it,” Mr. Patil said. The government will provide all kinds of support to farmers and there is no reason for them to lose hope, Mr. Patil said.
Taking exception to Mr. Patil’s description of farmers committing suicide, Mr. Kumaraswamy took to Twitter and said farmers are “self-respecting”.
‘For their honour’
When moneylenders harass them, they fear for their honour and take recourse to suicide. “A farmer is not a coward as the Agriculture Minister says,” Mr. Kumaraswamy said. The JD(S) leader accused Mr. Patil of insulting farmers.
“A farmer commits suicide when he feels he has lost respect in front of his wife, children, relatives, and fellow villagers,” he said.
Taking a dig at Mr. Patil for defecting from the Congress to the BJP, the former Chief Minister said a farmer does not change his colour like a “chameleon” for the sake of power. A farmer is hardworking and depends on his land to earn a living. “The union and State governments should support the farming community by formulating and implementing schemes for them. They should not be labelled cowards,” Mr. Kumaraswamy said.
Mr. Siddaramaiah too criticised the remarks. “It is an irresponsible statement,” said the Congress leader in response to a question by a reporter in Mysuru. “He is the Agriculture Minister. He should speak responsibly,” he said.