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Home > India > News > Report

Two weeks in power, BJP earns farmers' wrath

Vicky Nanjappa | June 10, 2008 21:57 IST

The Bharatiya Janata Party government, which formed the government in Karnataka two weeks back amidst much fanfare, is already in crisis.

The shortage of chemical fertilizers in the state has not been taken too lightly by the farmers and since the past two days they have gone on rampage, especially in the northern parts of Karnataka.

While the BJP believes it is an issue that has been blown out of proportion and is completely politically-motivated, the opposition is gunning for chief minister B S Yeddyurappa's head.

Tuesday's incident, where a farmer was shot dead, was only an indication as to how serious the issue had transformed into in Karnataka.

Protests began in worst-hit Hubli-Dharwad region in northern Karnataka. Protesting farmers say the monsoon has set in and they have to manure the crop. Any further delay would only prove fatal to the yield.

Farmers lament that they had been waiting for over a week, but all they had got were just assurances from officials. They say they had run out of patience and hence had to protest against the government.

Protests were expected to be intense in the northern part of Karnataka, as farmers in this area have not yet recovered from losses they incurred in the previous year due to the failure of the cotton crop.

Since the past two days, agitating farmers have burnt down buses, stoned public property, fertilizer shops and ensured that normal life was completely disrupted.

Yeddyurappa, who maintains that the entire exercise is politically-motivated, acted quickly and as a damage control exercise, suspended the joint director of the state agriculture department.

He added that his government will look into the matter before announcing a grant of Rs 2 lakh to the kin of the farmer killed in police firing. The slain farmer was the sole bread winner of the family. Compensation of Rs 50,000 has also been announced for those injured.

Addressing a press conference, the chief minister said that a special team headed by the state Director General of Police had been formed to inquire into the matter. Warning anti-social elements against creating havoc in the state, Yeddyurappa reiterated that it is not the culture of Karnataka farmers to resort to violence.

While terming Tuesday's incident as unfortunate, former law minister H K Patil (Congress) said the government had handled the issue very badly. There is an immediate need to address the problem and police firing is not the solution.

"You cannot shut out a democratic voice," he said.

Former state chief minister H D Kumaraswamy told that the issue should have been handled better and that force was not the solution.

The BJP, which came to power amidst such fanfare, should have understood the farmer's problems instead of taking an aggressive stand, he said.