The blame game over the farmer’s suicide here escalated today with government and police accusing the Aam Aadmi Party of having instigated it as Parliament was rocked and Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed for a collective solution to the “deep-rooted” agrarian crisis.
As the suicide in full public view put focus on the crisis, the Prime Minister expressed “pain” over the suicide by Gajender Singh, a farmer from Dausa in Rajasthan who took his life during an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) rally addressed by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and others.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh laid the blame at the doors of AAP saying its supporters “clapped and raised slogans” preventing police from engaging the farmer to prevent him from taking the extreme step.
The Delhi Police in its FIR accused unnamed AAP leaders and workers of having instigated Singh into committing suicide and putting all sorts of obstacles in their efforts to rescue him.
“This is totally an incident where AAP workers and leaders instigated the man to commit suicide and they also did not pay heed to requests made by police,” says the FIR.
The FIR was registered under Section 306 (Abetement of suicide), 186 (Obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions) and 34 (common intention) of IPC in Parliament Street Police Station.
Under attack for showing “insensitivity” in going ahead with the rally, AAP leaders held two press conferences to refute the charges against them. They hit back at Rajnath Singh saying he was “lying”.
“Home Minister is lying and giving misleading statements. It is the Union government’s ploy to target AAP using the Delhi Police. Media recorded the incident as it happened and should put out the tapes in public to establish the truth,” party spokesperson Sanjay Singh said.
“You must have seen that we were requesting the police to rescue him. Please show the truth as to whether we have incited anyone. At least tell the truth on the floor of the house,” said senior AAP leader Kumar Vishwas, who was flanked by Sanjay Singh and Ashutosh.
The Congress, which has mounted a major offensive on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democrtaic Alliance (NDA) government over the land acquisition ordinance, demanded a judicial inquiry into the incident.
Delhi Congress President Ajay Maken took out a candle- light procession of party to condole the farmer’s death.
In Parliament, the Opposition in both the houses raised the suicide issue and attacked the government over the current agrarian crisis.
They demanded that the prime minister come to the house and make a statement. After adjournments, both the houses held impromptu debates on the problems faced by farmers across the country.
In a brief speech in the Lok Sabha, he observed that nothing is more important than a farmer’s life or for that matter a human life. “The problem (afflicting the farmers) is old, deep-rooted and widespread and we have to seek solutions in that context.”
Modi said assessment would have to be made about “shortcomings” that occurred before his government came as well as during his 10-month tenure.
He said there should be a “collective resolve to ensure that farmers do not die”. It needs to be ascertained as to what “mistakes” have been made and “what shortcomings” have been there before his government came as well as during his tenure, he added.
“The issue of farmers suicide has been a matter of concern for the whole country for many years… We will all have to ponder over where we went wrong and what were the shortcomings.
“What were the shortcomings in the last 10 months. I am open to any suggestion so that a way could be found. Let a collective resolve come out of this debate to deal with the crisis,” he said.
The two-hour debate saw members cutting across party lines to express pain and anguish over the matter. Members demanded a judicial probe to fix responsibility.
Rajya Sabha also witnessed anguish being expressed by members, with those from Opposition seeking a CBI and demanding a reply from none other than Modi.
Opposition accused the government of merely focusing on the land bill instead of addressing farmers’ distress and growing number of suicide, saying that the bill was being pushed for passage in Parliament with a “vengeance”.
The opposition members also asked the government not to insist on convening a joint session of Parliament if the bill fell through in the Upper House where the ruling coalition does not enjoy a majority.
They demanded waiver of crop loans and a substantial hike in the minimum support price (MSP) of farm crops, saying the prime reason of distress and suicides was the recent unseasonal rains and hailstorm which had damaged crops.
Initiating a discussion on farmers’ distress and crisis, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said the land bill of the UPA should be restored and the NDA government should not insist on calling for a joint Parliamentary session in case the bill does not get cleared in the Upper House.
The House saw pandemonium created by opposition members when government explained reasons for re-promulgating ordinance on land acquisition, with a Trinamool Congress member tearing a copy of agenda paper and throwing it into the Well. Trinamool members also staged a walkout over the issue.