Farmers' Suicide Issue Rocks Karnataka Assembly

Farmers' Suicide Issue Rocks Karnataka Assembly

Facing the heat of Opposition over farmers suicides and protests from sugarcane growers, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah today asked peasants to end the tendency to take away their lives, while assuring that his government was with them in their hour of distress.

The recent incidents of farmers suicides gave a stormy start to the legislature session as it began today with the BJP and JDS launching an offensive against the Siddaramaiah government for being "careless" towards farmers' plight.

As the government came under attack in both the Assembly and Council, hundreds of sugarcane growers staged a protest near the legislature building here demanding payment of dues to them by the sugar mill owners.

A debt-ridden cane grower carrying a bottle with pesticide threatened to commit suicide but a police squad prevented it. The cane growers also blocked the Bengaluru-Pune national highway during the protest, police said.

Siddaramaiah said he was pained by the suicide of farmers and appealed to them to refrain from taking such extreme steps. Suicide is no solution, he said in the Council.

He said the government would honour the commitments made to sugarcane growers and was with the farmers in this hour of distress.

"We are always with farmers. Suicide tendency among farmers is growing and it should end," he said.

Charging government with being "irresponsible" and "careless" in addressing farmers' concerns, Shetter said, "This attitude has left farmers with no option other than committing suicide."

BJP and JDS demanded that the government immediately take steps to pay dues, to the tune of Rs 960 crore, to cane farmers.

Ministers R V Deshpande and Jayachandra as also several ruling Congress MLAs defended the government, leading to verbal exchange between both the sides. Intervening, Siddaramaiah said the government is ready for discussion and added, "Our government is pro-poor and farmer-friendly."

During heated exchanges, BJP members entered the well of the House, shouting slogans against the government and were joined by JD(S) members. The Speaker then allowed discussion on the issue after which the Opposition withdrew the protest.

The legislature session is being held here from today till July 10 and in Bengaluru from July 13 to 24.

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