Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar faced a tough time in the Rajya Sabha on Monday over the issue of farmers' suicides. However, his suggestion to form a joint parliamentary panel to look into the issue found widespread support in the House.
Opposition parties led by the BJP, walked out after Pawar's reply, saying he did not respond to their demand of convening a special Parliament session to discuss the agrarian crisis and farmers suicides.
Earlier during the day, the House had to be adjourned twice after a united opposition demanded that ministers connected with the farm sector be present to reply to the debate.
"Agriculture minister has no power...his responding to the debate is not going to suffice," BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu said when deputy chairman K Rahman Khan asked Pawar to reply to the debate on agriculture, which took place last week.
The opposition demanded that since the finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, commerce minister Anand Sharma and power minister Sushilkumar Shinde were present in the House, they should also reply to the questions related to their ministries.
Later Pawar said: "Let us appoint a House committee with members from both the Houses that can go to the states to look into the issue (farmers' suicide)." The entire Opposition, including the BJP, BSP, AIADMK, TDP and the Left, supported the proposal.
Pawar said setting up of a joint committee was necessary in the wake of conflicting figures of suicides by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)and the states, 16 of which have reported that there has been no such cases.
“The NCRB has reported 15,900 such cases whereas the state governments have reported only 800 of these,” he said.