A day after the opposition parties in Lok Sabha condemned Haryana Agriculture Minister OP Dhankar for his controversial remarks on distressed farmers, opposition parties in Rajya Sabha raised a stern protest. On Tuesday, the state agriculture minister had called farmers committing suicide “cowards”.
Raising the issue, Congress party sought to know what action the Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed to take.
“This is a serious issue…a Haryana government minister called farmers committing suicides cowards and criminals… Suicides are not just happening in Haryana but all over the country,” Anand Sharma, deputy leader of the Congress said during Zero Hour.
Other opposition members too joined the issue as Anand Sharma’s submissions were opposed by the government benches. The treasury benches opposed the contention saying it is not in the accordance with rules and procedure of the upper house to discuss what a minister in a state government said.
Deputy Chairman P J Kurien too sharing a view with the government opined “We have no jurisdiction on state governments. I cannot go further on this.”
On Wednesday, the statement created major controversy as several opposition members criticized the Haryana minster. Raising the issue in Lok Sabha, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi had targeted the government saying “Farmers are crying in mandis, there are in pain. Your minister says farmers committing suicide are cowards, criminals”.
And a day later in Rajya Sabha, the issue of OP Dhankar’s statement soon spread to a larger issue of government policies putting distress on the farmers.
Samajwadi Party member Naresh Agarwal raised the issue of government not sharing within the house what measures they propose to take to help the farmers. “Agrarian crisis was discussed for three days in the House and the government did not indicate any steps in the reply to the discussion,” he said.
Seconding SP leader Agarwal, Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad also contended that the Union government also needs to respond to the debate on agrarian crises on the floor of the house and not just outside the house.
The opposition wasn’t seemingly pleased with the government addressing the measures taken on farmers to the press before taking it up in the house. Later in the discussion Union Food Minister Ramvilas Paswan apprised the house with decision on import duty cuts.