Members cutting across party lines in Maharashtra legislative assembly on Thursday criticised an editorial that appeared in a Marathi daily recently, which they said has ridiculed the drought-hit farmers in the state by showing them in 'bad light'.
As members of NCP, Congress and Shiv Sena condemned the write up, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis too joined the issue, saying, "newspapers should not cross their limit."
Raising the issue on the floor of the house, Jitendra Awhad of NCP, waving a copy of the write up, lashed out at the daily for "disrespecting" the farming community by questioning their life style.
"The piece in the vernacular daily was in bad taste and (is written) with an objective to tarnish their (farmers') image when the state has already witnessed a large number of suicides (by farmers)," said Awhad.
He was soon joined by Vijay Aauti (Shiv Sena) who sought an apology from the editor.
Congress group leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil and Sena's Gulabrao Patil also condemned the edit and demanded "stringent action."
Aauti even offered five acres of land to the editor for farming so that the latter will "get to know the real pain behind untimely rains and drought."
Former agriculture minister Balasaheb Thorat said "it (the edit) reflects the air-conditioned culture."
"Some (people) sitting in their A/C cabin write about farmers without knowing the ground reality," he said.
Referring to the write up, former PWD minister and NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal said, "Farmers are not millionaires and for last two to three years the state has been affected by severe drought. It (the edit) is like adding to the injury of farmers."
Agreeing with the members of the house, Fadnavis said, "the newspapers are given freedom but they should not cross the limit. Everyone knows that the state has been under the grip of severe drought since last three years and farmers are in distress."
The edit, appeared against the backdrop of hail storms in north Maharashtra and the case for compensation to farmers, says the "so-called affected farmers have been sowing cash crops for years and have been earning well, which reflects in jewellery being worn by them."
It said that such farmers happen to be well-off and are politically active as well. "They know how to give soundbytes to television channels," it had argued.