Stepping up attack on Government over Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh's controversial reply over farmers' suicide, Left parties and Janata Parivar today demanded his dismissal while JD-U gave a privillege notice against him in the Rajya Sabha.
Rallying all constituents of Janata Parivar and Left parties, former Prime Minister H D Devegowda held a fast at Jantar Mantar slamming the government for its "negligence" towards farmers.
A written reply on farmer suicides by Agriculture Minister in Parliament last week in which a reference to love affairs and impotency being causes had triggered a storm with Opposition parties accusing the government of being insensitive.
Singh had made a reference to National Crime Record Bureau listing general causes of suicides including love affairs, barrenness and impotency.
JD-U chief Sharad Yadav, CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI leader D Raja and Dharmendra Yadav from Samajwadi Party were among those who backed the protest.
Gowda said,"it is one of the worst statements made by the Agriculture Minister... How did Prime Minister Narendra Modi tolerate this type of statement. It should be condemned."
Voicing concern over the large number of deaths of farmers, he said this was the beginning of a struggle.
Yadav said Opposition will corner the government on the issue in and outside Parliament and the government should either "apologize" or "dismiss" the minister, who gave such a reply.
JD-U, which is locked in a tough fight with the BJP in the agrarian state of Bihar, gave a notice to Rajya Sabha Chairman for initiating privillege proceeding against Singh accusing him of "deliberate misrepresentation of fact".
JD-U member K C Tyagi moved the privilege notice against Singh under Rule 187 in Rajya Sabha accusing him of "not only misleading the House but also making a diversion from the real issue of farmers' suicide."
Yadav said the statement by Singh in Rajya Sabha is an "insult" to Parliament.
"Either the government should aplogise over it or dismiss the person who gives such a reply. In the last 68 years, no government came out with such a humiliating reply. The reply says suicides happen in villages due to love affiar,impotency.
These are absurd statements..Farmers's suicides are rising in the country..Instead of helping farmers suffering from rain and hail storm, the government has out with this kind of inuslting that Devegowda ji had to sit on fast," he said.
Sharad Yadav said that protests over the issue will go on and the "fight" will not be limited to this agitation alone.
Yechury termed the statement by the Agriculture Minister as "rubbish" and slammed the government over "crisis" in the agrarian sector. CPI leader D Raja said that the minister's statement was "atrocious" and the farmers were actually dying because of debts.
JD-U general secretary K C Tyagi said that the agitation was launched to highlight farmers' problems and against the insensitive remarks made by Agriculture Minister.
Asked whether his party will press for the resignation of Singh, he said, "off course it is one of the demands. It is not only External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundahra Raje but also Radhamohan Singh, whose resignations we will demand now."
The Union Agriculture Minister had in a written reply in Rajya Sabha on Thursday listed "indebtedness, crop failure, drought, socio-economic and personal" as reasons for agrarian distress.
"According to NCRB, causes of suicide include family problems, illness, drug abuse/addiction, unemployment, property dispute, professional/career problems, love affairs, barrenness/impotency, cancellation/non-settlement of marriage, dowry dispute, fall in social reputation and unknown causes," he had said.
The constituents of Janata Pariwar are raking up the controversy at a time when JD(U) in alliance with Congress and RJD is locked in a tough electoral battle in the agrarian state Bihar, where Assembly polls are due in next few months.
Stressing that it is the beginning of a struggle, Gowda expressed concern over the death of thousands of farmers in the country.
"The issue is that everyday more than 10 farmers are committing suicide in Karnataka. And at the national level more than 6000 farmers have committed suicides after the NDA government headed by Narendra Modi has come. Last week, we want to raise the issue of farmers committing suicide. It is not permitted because the stand taken by the Congress as well as BJP on the issue of corruption.