Mumbai: In controversial remarks, BJP MP Gopal Shetty has said that there is a competition going on with respect to compensation awarded to farmers who commit suicide. The remarks come at a time when Maharashtra is reeling under an agrarian crisis with 124 farmers committing suicide in the state since January this year.
"Not all farmers' suicides happen due to unemployment and starvation. There is a trend going on- that if the Maharashtra government gives Rs 5 lakh compensation, the neighbouring state will give Rs 7 lakh. There is a competition even in giving money (compensation) to farmers." Shetty, who represents north Mumbai, said after an event held in Borivali.
Condemning the comments, Congress said the "insensitive" remarks by Shetty show BJP's "insensitivity" towards farmers.'
Speaking to CNN IBN, Gopal Shetty said that he did not mean to hurt anyone and that he did not mean that farmers commit suicides to get compensation. "If I have hurt sentiments, I apologise. The government is working very hard to reduce farmers' plight."
"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.
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.
Advocate General Srihari Aney had informed the bench that 124 farmers have taken their lives in the past one-and-half month, of whom 20 cases were reported from Osmanabad alone.
The AG said factors such as crop failure due to scanty rainfall, meagre water supply for drinking and growing crops, insufficient capacity to repay loans and pressure from banks and money lenders were the causes that drove the farmers to commit suicide.