‘Farmers who die by suicide are cowards’: Karnataka Agriculture Minister BC Patil

The Congress has criticised the minister and sought an apology.
BC Patil
BC Patil
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At a time when the national capital Delhi and surrounding states are being rocked by protests by farmers over the recently passed contentious farm laws, Karnataka Agriculture Minister BC Patil on Thursday stirred controversy by making an insensitive remark.  

"The farmers who commit suicide are cowards. Only a coward who can't take care of his wife and children commits suicide. When we have fallen (in the water), we have to swim and win," Patil said addressing farmers at Ponnampet in Kodagu district of Karnataka.

The minister was speaking to bamboo growers of Ponnampet and explaining to them how profitable the business of agriculture can be. To buttress his point, Patil cited an example of a woman who was wearing gold bangles. Patil was addressing farmers in a state like Karnataka that has consistently had a high number of farmer suicides. In 2016, 2,160 farmers ended their lives in Karnataka, while in 2017 the number was 2,079. In 2018, the state saw 2,405 farmer suicides and there was some relief as the number decreased to 1992 in the year 2019.

"When I enquired with her how her hands were full of gold bangles, ‘You know what she said? She said, ‘This mother earth has given me for my 35 years of toil.’” he said.

"Doesn't this please you all after listening to this?" Patil added. He then went on to ask if a woman who had depended herself entirely on agriculture could 'achieve' something like this, why can't other farmers.

Reacting to this, Congress Karnataka unit spokesperson VS Ugrappa condemned the Minister's statement, saying he has shown disrespect to the farming community. "It's a disrespect to the farmers. He should apologise for it," Ugrappa told PTI. He said the Minister should have gone into the subject to find why some farmers are forced to die by suicide.

"No farmer wishes to end his life. There are many reasons such as floods and droughts, which have not been understood and solved yet. Instead of understanding the gravity of the problem, the minister gives such an irresponsible statement," Ugrappa said

Farmers from Karnataka too are in the national capital region to take part in the nationwide protests which had started on November 26, on the occasion of the Constitution Day.

(With PTI Inputs)

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