Khargone: As yet another debt-ridden farmer committed suicide in Khargone district of Madhya Pradesh on Saturday, MoS Agriculture, Balkrishna Patidar unabashedly dismissed “loan” being a reason behind farmers' suicides and asked if “loans” were the sole reason, why did renowned godman Bhaiyyuji Maharaj kill himself.
The minister, whose induction into the Shivraj Singh Chouhan cabinet was seen as a bid to placate the agitated Patidars, posed a bizarre question to his listeners and cited Indore's Bhaiyyuji Maharaj and north Delhi’s Burari family to prove his point.
“People commit suicide because of a number of personal reasons. We can only assume the causes behind a suicide,” said the minister.
As Madhya Pradesh reels under intermittent farmer protests and suicides ahead of the state assembly elections, comments such as this provide further fodder to opposition to hit back at the ruling BJP.
Later, the minister also attacked the media on Saturday and said, "We buy a newspaper for Rs 5 just for reading fake news. I don’t believe in print media or electronic media, I believe in my mouth media.”
The deceased farmer, Ranchhod Jirbhan, a native of Gadaghat village in Khargone had outstanding dues of Rs 80,000, which he owed a co-operative credit society and the power distribution company, his neighbours said.
He was concerned over the outstanding farm dues for the past several days, said one of his family members and added that Jirbhan had mentioned the loans on several occasions at home.
On Saturday, Jirbhan had left for his field and when his family members went to meet him, he was found hanging from a tree. Police have initiated an investigation into the death.
Two other farmers have committed suicide in the past one week and in both the cases, the families claimed they were stressed over impending loans.
On Friday, ex-VHP president Pravin Togadia openly alleged that farmers were dying in herds as loans mounted on them due to flawed polices of the Centre. "The faulty policies of the Centre have led to suicides of ten lakh farmers and agricultural loans surging to Rs 12 lakh crores," he said.