Not only from the opposition leaders but Gopal Shetty get slammed from his own party and alliance too, he termed as ‘lacks knowledge’ about agrarian crisis and problems of farmers.
At a time when Maharashtra state is witnessing severe drought BJP MP from north Mumbai Gopal Shetty has made a controversial statement by saying that farmer’s suicides has become a fashion today. Shetty issued these statements in a programme held at Borivali. Opposition parties condemned the remarks made by Shetty and said that the BJP government has become insensitive towards the problems faced by farmers. They said that the government is working for corporates and is not bothered about the plight of farmers. A complaint has been filed against Gopal Shetty at Khadki Police station in Pune. Gopal Shetty’s comments come at a time when 124 farmers had ended their lives since January this year.
Congress condemned Shetty’s statements and said that BJP remains insensitive towards farmers. “At a time when Maharashtra is undergoing its worst-ever agrarian crisis, Shetty’s remarks show how insensitive he and his party are towards thousands of farmers who have committed suicide due to debt and crop failure,” MRCC president Sanjay Nirupam said.
Congress leader Bhai Jagtap said, “We had taken steps to provide financial assistance to distressed farmers. The BJP had promised achche din but it is nowhere in sight. The government has only misled the common man by making false promises. The government has written off loans taken by corporate sector but it doesn’t have money to provide financial assistance to farmers.”
MPCC President Ashok Chavan said, “Whatever schemes implemented by the BJP is just a rehash of the policies implemented by us. The BJP doesn’t work for the welfare of the farmers but is only making statements against those who work for them and take credit for it.”
Former Chief Minister of Maharashtra Prithviraj Chavan criticised Gopal Shetty and said, “Gopal Shetty is unaware about the problems faced by farmers. He lacks knowledge about agriculture. How can farmers committing suicide be termed as a fashion?”
Shiv Sena MLC Neelam Gorhe said, “The farmers suicide is a serious matter and it is very unfortunate that Gopal Shetty has made this statement. Even though the fashion statement might be misinterpreted but he has mentioned about the word trend in his comment. I don’t think that BJP should apologise on behalf of Gopal Shetty but he should apologise to the nation.”
BJP spokesperson Shaina NC said, “Gopal Shetty is a sensible man. This is the first time he has been involved in such controversy. More than apologising a clarification is needed.”
RTI activist Anil Galgali said, “Gopal Shetty’s statement has proved that the government is not functioning and is ignorant about the problems faced by farmers. Definitely Shetty should apologise and he should also help farmers.”
“He lives in Mumbai and lacks knowledge about the agrarian crisis faced by farmers in Maha-rashtra and elsewhere in the country,” said Kishore Tiwari, chairman of Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavlamban Mission.
Raju Shetti of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, who is the alliance partner of BJP condemned Shetty’s statement and said, “If a person is unaware about farming then he should refrain from speaking about these issues. If suicides have become trend then Shetty should tell us how many people have committed suicide in his constituency as a part of “Fashion”? BJP leaders have become insensitive. BJP should take stringent action against Shetty.”
Earlier too BJP leaders had issued irresponsible statements against farmers but no action has been taken against them.
Last year in a rally, BJP MP from Akola, Sanjay Dhotre had said, “Let these farmers fend for themselves. If crops fail, they will figure out what to do. And, if they are dying, let them die…Those who can afford farming will do it, others will not do it.”
In May, 2015, in an unusual advice to the farmers on irrigation, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari had said in Nagpur that he watered plants in his Delhi bungalow with his own urine-which was a free fertilizer that could help farmers grow bigger plants.
In May, 2015 Maharashtra’s Agriculture Minister Eknath Khadse had said his government had no solution to stop farmers’ suicides. There was no concrete solution to completely stop these incidents.
NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said, “BJP has always been an anti-farmer and pro-retail party. They have not taken any step to provide relief to drought hit farmers after coming to power but are busy giving such derogatory statements. The party should apologise publicly to the nation.”
“Whenever, these political leaders face a foot in mouth situation, they blame it on media, claiming that their views have been misrepresented. Taking U-turn is nothing uncommon,” said Pankaj Vaidya of MNS IT wing.
Notably, the state government had two days back informed the Bombay High Court that 124 farmers have committed suicide in the state since January this year. The HC had asked the Centre what kind of assistance it provides to the state to deal with the grim agrarian crisis.
Observing that this was a serious issue, a bench headed by Justice Naresh Patil had asked the Additional Solicitor General to inform the High Court whether the Centre can chip in to provide schemes and financial help to the state to tide over the crisis.
Gopal Shetty clarified his stand on this issue and said, “From morning I have been saying that my statements have been misinterpreted by the media. I had issued this statement to one particular channel and I don’t know how it was circulated to other channels. I just received the CD where the words trends, competition and fashion have been mentioned by me. I admit that these kinds of words should not be used but it was a slip of tongue on my part. People have filed FIR against me even I will file complaint against the particular media channel. However, I admit that it was mistake and I apologise to the nation or to any one whose sentiments have been hurt.”
Shetty’s statement comes ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally in Madhya Pradesh on Thursday where he highlighted the government’s initiatives for the development of the agriculture sector and welfare of the agriculturists. He had said that not all farmers end their lives due to crop failures and in debtness.