Minister terms farmers' strike a gimmick, draws flak

Minister terms farmers' strike a gimmick, draws flak

Bharatiya Kisan Andolan activists along with the farmers throw tomatoes on a road during a protest various issues of the farmers including their loan waiver, in Meerut on Sunday. PTI Photo

As farmers' nationwide protest entered the third day, Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh is at the receiving end for his remarks that the agitation is a "gimmick".

Political leaders and farmers' organisations have come down heavily on him and targeted the Centre for not doing anything to meet their demands.

With the 10-day protest entering its third day, farmers continued to dump their produce on roads as a mark of their protest in several states, while vegetable prices soared in many places.

From June 1, farmers' organisations are protesting in 22 states by stopping the supply of vegetables, fruits, milk and other items to cities, urging the government for remunerative prices for their produce, implementation of Swaminathan Commission recommendations and farm loan waiver.

Singh's comment on Saturday that the farmer protests were nothing but adopting "unusual deeds" to grab media attention triggered a backlash.

He also said the protesting farmers belong to organisations with "only a few thousand members".

Haryana Chief Minister M L Khattar had also said that protesting against the government "will not serve any purpose".

Referring to Singh's statement, CPM leader Sitaram Yechury said, "for (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi and his ministers, everything is about media coverage. Even suicides of our poor and hardworking farmers. Truly shameful and abominable."

RJD MP and spokesperson Manoj Jha described Singh's remarks as the "height of insensitivity" at a time when farmers are under so much distress.

"He should be sacked immediately. His comments are part of a series of uncharitable remarks made by BJP leaders against farmers. We wonder if Modi sees him (Singh) as a poster boy for his proclamation 'sabka saath, sabka vikas'," he said.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said, "when farmers, who feed the nation, are forced to take to streets to draw attention to their pitiable condition, then it does not augur well for the country. The farmers are suffering as a result of the central government's failure to waive their debts, which many state governments, including Punjab, had been repeatedly seeking, and also to give them the due price for their produce."