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Your govt is gunning down people, you go on fast: Jyotiraditya Scindia to MP CM

Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia began a 72-hour satyagrah in Bhopal in support of Madhya Pradesh farmers who are demanding a loan waiver and better price for their produce.

india Updated: Jun 14, 2017 16:54 IST
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Senior Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia says the Centre and Madhya Pradesh government  have failed to protect farmers’ interests.
Senior Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia says the Centre and Madhya Pradesh government have failed to protect farmers’ interests.(Mujeeb Faruqui/HT file photo)

Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia on Wednesday began a 72-hour satyagrah in Bhopal in support of farmers demanding a loan waiver and a higher price for their produce.

Madhya Pradesh has seen violent protests in the last few days, with distressed farmers destroying vegetables and dumping milk as prices crashed.

In a phone interview to HT from Indore, the member of Parliament from Guna, who was arrested briefly on Tuesday and prevented from visiting violence-hit Mandsaur where five farmers were killed in police firing, said his protest was aimed at finding a solution to the problems facing the farmers. The state government had failed to protect farmers’ interests, he said.

Edited excerpts of the interview:

Q: Why this satyagrah?

We need a platform for deliberations when there are several streams of thoughts and ideologies. For instance, if I am talking about media and don’t invite mediapersons for deliberations then how will I get suggestions? This is for deliberations with stakeholders and preparing an action plan. Such a major incident has happened (in Mandsaur). A government should protect people’s life but here the protector has turned into perpetrator (Rakshak hi bhakshak ban gaya). We have been fighting for the cause of farmers for a long time. Such a satyagrah means treading on the path shown by Mahatma Gandhi while looking for solutions to problems people are facing and propagating the ideology of non-violence as well.

Q: The state government says it has done a lot for farmers in the last 14 years particularly after Shivraj Singh Chouhan took over as the chief minister. What do you say?

If everything is fine, then why are farmers in Madhya Pradesh committing suicide, and why is there such a chaotic situation? Prices of everything that a farmer needs are spiralling whether it is diesel, fertiliser or seeds. How long will it go on?

Q: In Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra farmers’ loans have been written off. Should the MP government do the same?

We waived loans of farmers amounting to Rs 72,000 crore. Why is this government going at a snail’s pace? How many farmers will have to lose their lives? How many farmers will you (MP government) kill? When Sonia ji and Manmohan ji waived the loans of Rs 72000 crore there was no demand and demonstration. Still they did it in the interest of the farming community and the country. But the MP government has adopted a posture as if money was dearer to it than farmers’ lives. As many as 12,000 farmers are committing suicide in the country every year. There are an alarming number of farmer suicides in Madhya Pradesh, too, but the government doesn’t want to redress farmer grievances.

Q: But don’t you think farmer suicides have been going on for a long time? Farmers killed themselves even when the Congress was in power at the Centre.

Should this (suicide) be allowed to go on? I will appreciate the central government if it tells us what it has really done for the farmers in the last three years. I will appreciate it if the Madhya Pradesh government tells us what it has done for the farmers. Figures cannot bring dead farmers back to life. A widow (in Mandsaur) has asked the state government to take Rs 6 crore from her and bring back her husband. A farmer who is the father of a slain farmer has offered Rs 6 crore to the government and asked if he would be allowed to kill somebody in lieu of money.

We needed answers from chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan but he launched a fast. What will happen if a CM goes on fast? Farmers are suffering because of his fault and he observes a fast. What drama.

Q: But the ruling party leaders claim peace was restored in the state after the CM’s fast. What do you have to say?

If the state is peaceful then why are prohibitory orders in place in Mandsaur under Section 144 of CrPC. Either he should not have ended his fast when there were prohibitory orders or if all is peaceful, there should not be any prohibitory orders. Apki sarkar logon ko goliyon se bhoon de, apki sarkar logon ko hospital pahuncha de aur aap upwaas par baith rahe ho...Ye kya ho raha hai? Mazak? (Your government is gunning down people, it is sending people to hospitals and you [Chouhan] sit on a fast...What is happening? Is it a joke?)

The CM wasn’t sensitive enough to visit the families of those killed and apologises to them immediately after the incident. Instead he went on a fast.

Q: Congress often gets issues to raise but it’s not able to cash in on the situation. Your comments.

Just see what will happen.

Q: Was there any effort on part of the state government to persuade you to call off the satyagrah?

Do you think I am a man who can consider such things?

Q:How is your satyagrah going to make a difference in the life of farmers and for the Congress?

Only future will tell. Mai to chhota aadmi hun (I am an insignificant person). I am doing what my conscience asked me to do. This is what my duty is towards people. I don’t claim I am a big leader who can do a miracle but I will make efforts to do whatever I can do for the betterment of people’s life.