The United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA) on Tuesday launched a fresh attack on the Congress-led UPA on the issue of farmers' plight and announced a series of protest meetings across the country to highlight the crisis in agriculture.
The UNPA has roped in top agricultural scientist, MS Swaminathan, to speak on the issue from its platform shared by Samajwadi Party's Mulayam Singh, TDP's Chandrababu Naidu, INLD’s OP Chautala and AGP’s Brindaban Goswami.
The UNPA demanded that the report compiled by Swaminathan, when he was the chairman of the National Commission on Farmers, should be implemented. “Till the condition of the farmers improve, the country will not develop,” Mulayam said, after a daylong seminar titled “Farmers in India — Issues and Challenges”. The SP chief took a dig at the Congress and said that though the party invokes Mahatma Gandhi the most it does not follow his principles of developing agriculture and empowering India's villages.
Naidu said that while more than 78000 farmers committed suicide in India between 1997 and 2001, 88000 debt-ridden farmers had taken their own lives between 2001 and 2005.
"There is stagnation in agricultural production. We have been importing wheat, rice pulses and oilseeds. In the future, there could be a severe food security threat," the TDP chief said, adding that the human face of reforms is missing. He further said that the third front would organise rallies on the issue in Jaipur, Mumbai and Ranchi over the next two months.
Chautala accused the Congress of ignoring farmers in its nearly 50 years of rule. "How can a government be so reckless about agriculture when almost 70 per cent of the population is dependent on it," he said.