Farmers who commit suicide are cowards, said Karnataka Agriculture Minister B.C. Patil while addressing farmers at Ponnampet in Kodagu district. “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.
The comment came even as the Centre held talks with farmers’ leaders in Delhi on Thursday to break the deadlock over the three recent farm laws that have sparked India’s biggest farm protests in years.
After receiving flak from the opposition, however, Patil on Thursday made a U-turn by issuing a clarification that he has not termed “farmers as cowards” but stated that «suicide is an act of cowardice».
Issuing a written clarification through his media secretary in Kannada, Patil said that in his speech he appealed to farmers that they should never think of committing suicide. “I am the one who was encouraging them to fight and win their battles.
Troubles are like dark nights and there is an end to every trouble. We can overcome any trouble by working hard, this is what I have said,” he maintained in his statement.
While citing several examples, the minister said that he had also stated that none of the Kolar farmers have committed suicide despite the fact that they come from the most dry land district. “I told farmers to adopt the agricultural methods adopted by these farmers. They are the most hardworking farmers in our state,” he said.
Agriculture minister Patil had spent a large part of his life serving as police officer with Karnataka police department from 1979 till December 2000. He was forced to take voluntary retirement after he started acting in movies.
The Karnataka BJP backed the minister and asserted that the Congress was shedding crocodile’s tears. “During Congress government between 2013 and 2018, more than 3,800 farmers died by suicide. Where did your concern for farmers go then?” the Karnataka BJP said.