Former Union minister and chief whip of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Jyotiraditya Scindia talks to Express on the sidelines of the satyagraha for farmers cause in Bhopal. Excerpts:
MP has been receiving the Krishi Karman Award from the Centre for five years now. It registered an 18-20% annual agricultural growth. How do you claim that MP farmers are in distress?
Then why are farmers killing themselves over debt, loss of crop and inability to get right prices for their produce. Input costs are rising and prices of their produce crashing. In 16 years, 21,000 farmers committed suicide in MP, 1,980-plus in the last year and nine in just four days. In a state ruled by a man who prides himself as a farmer’s son, police shoot farmers who are demanding their rights peacefully, like loan waiver and prices of produce to be determined by input cost. CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan is a master when it comes to juggling statistics. He should be honoured with the Award for Economic Jaadugar.
RBI has warned against farm loan waiver as will increase risk of fiscal slippages and inflation. How can the loan waiver demand be justified?
This country cannot be strengthened only on the basis of opinion of economic experts. Our country is an agriculture-based nation. It’s RBI’s responsibilityas well that when the country’s farmers are urging for loan waivers, it should help in fulfilling their aspirations.
Is your 72-hour ‘satyagraha’ for farmers in reply to Chouhan’s 28-hour ‘upwaas’?
It’s not my satyagraha alone, but a peaceful protest by the Congress. We don’t respond to calculated dramas enacted by the CM. Our satyagraha is based on the call from our inner self, which has been under acute pain following the killing of five farmers in Mandsaur.
Videos of Congress leaders inciting violence during the agitation are viral on social media. Congress MLA from Karera has been booked by police and is on the run.
Congress doesn’t believe in violence. I can’t think of any of our leaders inciting violence. In the clip, Rau (Indore) MLA Jeetu Patwari didn’t abuse the SDM or tried to foment violence. MLA Shakuntala Khatik was pushed by cops during the protest, and her spectacles fell down. She may have said something in anger then, but did that result in violence or burning of any police station. Even veteran BJP leader, ex-CM and home minister Babulal Gaur has said there is no Congress involvement in the violence and that the farmers stir and violence is the result of agrarian resentment simmering since last several years.
The enormous response to your ‘satyagraha’ has triggered a debate about the start of a battle for 2018 between Shivraj and Scindia.
Like my father, I’ve never aspired for a powerful post. My only job is to fight along with party leaders for farmers, unemployed youth and other troubled sections of the state reeling under the non-performing BJP government in MP.