‘Said in jest but…’: Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah on minister Patil’s ‘farmers wish for drought’ comment

The BJP, which had done nothing for farmers, are waiting for opportunities to create controversies, the chief minister said.

BySouth First Desk

Published Dec 26, 2023 | 8:50 PMUpdatedDec 26, 2023 | 8:51 PM

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Tuesday, 26 December, reminded his Cabinet colleagues and other people’s representatives of the need to refrain from making casual comments that others may perceive as disrespectful.

Siddaramaiah issued the reminder two days after Karnataka’s Minister for Textiles, Sugarcane Development and Agriculture Marketing Shivanand Patil stirred a hornet’s nest, saying the farmers in the state were wishing for a drought so that their loans would be written off.

Urging ministers to avoid casual comments, Siddaramaiah said, “Adhering strictly to this code of conduct is a responsibility for all.”

The chief minister referred to Patil’s remark and said the minister “cannot have the intention to insult farmers” since he hailed from a family of cultivators.

Related: Farmers wish for drought to get loan waiver, says Patil

Respect farmers

“He has made some remarks in jest with the farmers around him. However, when applied to the entire farming community, these can be taken out of context and become offensive. This is unacceptable,” Siddaramaiah said on X.  The chief minister also said it was “crucial” to speak about farmers — “our food providers” — with respect.

File photo of Karnataka minister Shivanand Patil

File photo of Karnataka minister Shivanand Patil. (ishivanandpatil/Facebook)

He then proceeded to say that the BJP, which had done nothing for farmers, were waiting for opportunities to create controversies. He further questioned how BJP leaders, and “fundamentally anti-farmer”, could question the Congress on moral grounds.

The government’s love and respect for farmers made it implement pro-farmer programmes in the past six months. He then listed out the programmes, including the drought relief of ₹2,000 each “when the Union government did not provide adequate relief.

Siddaramaiah launched a broadside against the NDA government at the Centre for “strangling farmers with oppressive farm laws”.

“The entire country has seen the efforts they have made to implement these laws. Farmers have recognised the BJP’s scheme to hand over the farming sector to corporate giants. In their efforts to disguise their anti-farmer policies, BJP leaders frequently engage in misleading rhetoric.”

Also read: Karnataka announces interim relief for drought-hit farmers

The controversy

Speaking at an event in Belagavi on Sunday, 24 December, Patil asked the farming community not to expect assistance from the government “all the time”.

“The Krishna river’s water is free. Electricity is free. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has given seeds and fertilisers as well. Now farmers have just one wish — that the drought recurs. Because then their loans will be waived,” he said.

“You shouldn’t wish for that. Even if you don’t wish for it, there will be drought every three or four years. Since there was a drought this year as well, Siddaramaiah has already waived the interest on medium-term loans,” he noted.

“All chief ministers — whether Siddaramaiah, HD Kumaraswamy or BS Yediyurappa — have waived loans. I won’t deny it. Governments can help during distress. If you expect the government to always come to your rescue, it will be difficult,” the minister said.

After the minister’s “irresponsible” comments, the BJP demanded Patil’s resignation from the Cabinet.

Calling the minister’s statement “irresponsible”, the BJP hit out at the Congress government in the state.

Recalling that Patil had made “arrogant” comments on farmers’ suicides in the past, the Karnataka BJP president BY Vijayendra said, “Shivanand Patil has once again insulted the farmers. I urge the chief minister to immediately call him and expostulate him, and, if he is not able to mend his ways, take his resignation.”

Patil had earlier reportedly linked the rising number of farmer suicides to the hike in compensation to kin of the deceased offered by his government.