NEW DELHI: As country observes Champaran Satyagraha centenary this year, farmers in the country continue to fight for their rights even after 100 years and are now being harassed by the ruling government, Congress leader Digvijay Singh during discussion in Rajya Sabha drew parallel between the indigo protest in Bihar by Mahatma Gandhi in 1917 and farmers situation across the country now.
Initiating discussion on the farmers’ distress leading to rise in the incidents of their suicide in the country, Singh said Mahatma Gandhi raised his voice in support of indigo cultivators who were harassed by Britishers in Champaran.
“After 100 years, farmers continue to face harassment by policies of the central government,” said Singh.
He attacked the prime minister saying, none of the cabinet ministers can do anything about the condition of farmers as everything is in hands of PM who does whatever he wants to.
“Minimum government is Prime Minister’s Office. This government is being run by PM’s “meri marzi” (my wish) and he does whatever he feels like and nobody else has a say in it,” Singh added.
Unavailability of rural credit, high dependence on rain by farmers, inadequate access to irrigation and unviable size of landholdings were other issues raised by the opposition members. Many urged the government to waive off farm loans in states with high farmer distress.
Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav said the contribution of agriculture in GDP has come down to 12 percent in 2016-17 from 43 percent in 1970.
Yadav also raised concerns about PM crop insurance scheme, saying farmers only get 15 percent compensation now that the insurance is being run through private companies while earlier public sector companies used to provide up to 85 percent compensation.
AIADMK leader K R Arjuna spoke about the agrarian crisis in Tamil Nadu arising out of severe drought due to the failure of northeast monsoon.
Asking the Centre to release more funds to provide relief to TN farmers, Arjuna said that Karnataka has not released agreed the share of Cauvery water to TN, 21 of 32 districts in the state have received less rainfall and water reservoirs are almost dry thus causing a serious problem for the state.
“Tamil Nadu government has demanded Rs 2500 crore relief from the Centre but only Rs 1072 crore has been provided. Farmers in the state are compelled to commit suicide and Centre needs to take urgent steps, including setting up of Cauvery management board,” he added.