Bhubaneswar, April 23 (IANS) In a remark that raised the opposition’s hackles, Odisha Agriculture Minister Pradeep Maharathy on Sunday said the deaths of farmer in the state were reported only when the assembly was in session.
“Farmers are dying in Odisha (only) when the assembly is in session. Once the session is over, are such incidents reported,” asked the Minister.
Denying that any Odia farmer had committed suicide due to crop loss, he said the state’s peasants have weathered all odds in the past.
“Odia farmers live with dignity. No farmer has committed suicide even in difficult times like the famine in 1866 or the Super Cyclone in 1999,” Maharathy added.
Maharathy’s comments invited sharp criticism from opposition parties.
“This statement is an insult to the state’s farmers. They are continuously committing suicide. The government has failed to provide succour. It has neither provided water for irrigation, nor ensured minimum support price to farmers,” Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Pradip Purohit said.
Congress leader Tara Prasad Bahinipati flayed the Minister for what he dubbed a “irresponsible statement”.
“Farmers are committing suicide in Odisha, like in other states. the BJP and the Biju Janata Dal are responsible for their plight. The Minister’s statement on farmer suicide is unfortunate,” said Bahinipati, Chief Whip of the opposition party in the assembly.