Kumaraswamy slams PM for his Chhattisgarh remarks

Bengaluru: Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy Monday attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi accusing him of misleading the country by claiming that the state government was issuing warrants and arresting farmers in debt.

The Chief Minister said he did not expect such a comment. “Yesterday, in his election speech in Chhattisgarh, the Prime Minister had commented that the Karnataka government is issuing warrants and arresting farmers against whom debts are pending. I did not expect such a comment from the Prime Minister. By saying this, he has misled the country,” he told reporters here.

On the contrary, Kumaraswamy alleged, the Modi government was issuing warrants with the help of the central government-controlled institutions. The Prime Minister had alleged that the Congress had made false promises to farmers during Karnataka elections, but even after a year, the promise remains unfulfilled.

“Instead, the (Karnataka) government is issuing warrants and arresting farmers against whom debts are pending,” he had said. Terming the ongoing agitation by farmers over the minimum support price (MSP) for sugarcane in the state as needless, Kumaraswamy alleged that the BJP is supporting it.

Hitting out at state BJP president B S Yeddyurappa, Kumaraswamy said he need not learn anything from the BJP leader who, as the chief minister, had ordered police firing on farmers who were protesting shortage of fertilizers in 2008. A farmer was killed in the firing then at Haveri in North Karnataka.

Kumaraswamy said there was no need for the farmers to continue protests as he has been taking steps to alleviate their problems. He said his father H D Deve Gowda and his family members have never taken stern action as Yeddyurappa.

“I have not asked the police to open fire at the protesting farmers as Yeddyurappa did, and shall never do it. I have given free hand for them to protest. I shall also give them space for protest even at the state secretariat,” he said.

He alleged that Yeddyurappa had not done any good for the farmers during his rule. “Such being the case, I want to ask agitating farmers on the necessity for continuing their gitation,” he said. “If the farmers have some grievances, they can come withdetails and the government would take steps to pay their arrears after examination,” he added.

Reacting to his controversial remarks on a woman farmer, Kumaraswamy clarified that he did not make such a comment to disrespect her. “What I meant was, ‘why have you woken up to that situation now? Were you sleeping?’ I would never disrespect a woman. These are not farmers who are agitating but these are sponsored protests,” he said.

Kumaraswamy had said, “How can I be held responsible for some company not paying proper prices for sugarcane four years ago? What is the connection between me and this issue? Where were you sleeping four years ago?”

This sparked criticism by BJP, which slammed Kumaraswamy on its twitter handle by calling him an “opportunist” chief minister who would never respect citizens. “Asking a women where she was sleeping for last 4 years clearly shows the individuality of Kumaraswamy. This is beyond apologising, this is a shame & insult to women of the state,” BJP tweeted.