NEW DELHI: A “Maharaja” and a “Kisan” battled it out in the Lok Sabha after the House took up discussion on the prevailing agrarian distress in various parts of the country, on Wednesday.
“Maharaja” Jyotiraditya Scindia sought to seize on the violent Mandsaur farmers’ agitation to turn the heat on the Narendra Modi government. But rebuttal followed from BJP MP from Bhadohi constituency in Uttar Pradesh, “Kisan” Virendra Singh.
He reminded that the spate of farmers’ suicides began in 1991 when the reigns of the nation were in the hands of P V Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh. While Scindia belongs to the erstwhile Gwalior princely state, Singh is a farmer, besides being the chief of BJP’s Kisan Morcha.
“Sixty farmers have committed suicide since the Mandsaur violence in Madhya Pradesh erupted. Over 6,000 farmers have committed suicide in MP in the last three years. Agrarian distress has become acute across the country,” remarked Scindia during his forceful initiation of discussion on the agrarian distress.
While Scindia reeled out statistics, minister for agriculture and farmers welfare Radha Mohan Singh was seen agitated.
At one point, the minister rose to interrupt Scindia to rebut his claims that agricultural growth in the last three years had just been an average 1.7 per cent, saying that the growth rate in 2016-17 was actually 4.9 per cent. To Scindia’s question on what happened to the promise of 50 per cent more than input cost as support price, by Modi during the 2014 elections, the minister countered “the assurance was not on support price but to increase the profit of farmers by one-and-a-half times”.
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi had designated Scindia to lead the farmers’ agitation in MP against chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Scindia charged Chouhan for putting price on farmers’ suicides. He claimed that dependents of six farmers who had died in police firing were forced to travel to Bhopal to allow the chief minister to break his fast.
Speaking from the Treasury benches, Virendra Singh took potshots at Scindia, saying “Raja is now talking of farmers’ problem”. “Farmers’ suicides began when former prime minister Narsimha Rao and his finance minister Manmohan Singh opened the economy. The problem is deep-rooted and I have written a letter to the speaker to call a special session of Parliament on the lines of the constituent assembly to find a concrete solution to the agrarian crisis,” Singh said. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said she may call for such a session exclusively on the agrarian distress.