BJP MP receives flak for ‘anti-farmer’ comment

Mumbai/Yavatmal, Feb 18 (IANS) A BJP MP on Thursday received flak for suggesting it has become “fashionable” for states to outcompete each other in compensating the families of farmers committing suicide, but later said he has been quoted out of context.

“He lives in Mumbai and has absolutely no idea of the agrarian crises” in Maharashtra and elsewhere in the country, said Kishore Tiwari, a farmers’ rights activist who is chairman of Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavlamban Mission.

Shetty’s remarks were “beyond any apology,” he said.

The MP from Mumbai North is reported to have said in Mumbai on Wednesday: “Not all farmers’ suicide are due to unemployment or starvation. It has become a fashionable trend… State governments are competing with each other to give compensation to the farmers.”

On Thursday, Shetty said he had been quoted out of context in the matter.

Shetty’s controversial comment came as Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday addressed farmers in Sehore in Madhya Pradesh and highlighted his government’s initiatives for the development of the agriculture sector.

“If Shetty feels this is a fashion, then why does Prime Minister Modi show so much concern on farmers’ issues? Why did he come to Vidarbha and conduct a lengthy ‘Chai Pe Charcha’ with farmers across the country, besides his speeches on radio and TV,” Tiwari said.

Shetty’s comments reflected the ‘insensitivity’ of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) towards the cause of the farming community in the country, said Mumbai Congress President Sanjay Nirupam.

In Goa, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh on Thursday condemned Shetty’s remarks which, he said, contrasted sharply with Modi’s holding of rallies in favour of farmers.

“Modi should clarify whether the manner in which farmers are committing suicide is a fashion or helplessness,” Digvijay Singh told reporters at the Congress party office in Panaji.

The Maharashtra government informed the Bombay High Court on Tuesday that since January 1 this year, 124 farmers have ended their lives in the state, including 20 from Osmanabad district alone, due to various reasons.

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