Bengaluru/Kodagu, Dec 3 (IANS) After receiving flak from the opposition, Karnataka agriculture minister, B. C. Patil on Thursday made a “U turn” by issuing a clarification that he has not termed “farmers as cowards” but stated that “suicide is an act of cowardice”.

Issuing a written clarification through his media secretary in Kannada, Patil said that in his speech he appealed to farmers that they should never think of committing suicide. “I am the one who was encouraging them to fight and win their battles. Troubles are like dark nights and there is an end to every trouble. We can overcome any trouble by working hard, this is what I have said,” he maintained in his statement.

While citing several examples, the minister said that he had also stated that none of the Kolar farmers have committed suicide despite the fact that they come from the most dry land district. “I told farmers to adopt the agricultural methods adopted by these farmers. They are the most hardworking farmers in our state,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Patil had said farmers who commit suicide are cowards, while participating in programme at Forestry College in Ponnampet of Madikeri.

Agriculture minister Patil had spent a large part of his life serving as police officer with Karnataka police department from 1979 till December 2000. He was forced to take voluntary retirement after he started acting in movies.

He had stated that he believed that those who commit suicide are cowards.

“I firmly believe that only a coward commits suicide. A person who cannot take care of his family, wife and children, commit suicide. We have to jump into the water and swim, that is the essence of life,” he said.

While explaining to bamboo growers of Ponnampet how profitable the agriculture business can be, the minister said that “some cowards” do not realise the profit in this and commit suicide.

Citing an example of a woman, Patil said that when he enquired a woman who was wearing wrist full of gold bangles, the reply was heart-wrenching, “Mother Earth has given me all the riches as I toiled hard in my fields for 35 years and she (mother earth) gave me this.”

He questioned the gathering: “Doesn’t this please you all after listening to this?”

The minister added that when a woman who can entirely depend on agriculture can achieve so much, why can’t other farmers?

On social media sites, Congress launched a diatribe against the minister and condemned it stating that it was an insult to the farmer community by terming them cowards.

“It’s a gross disrespect to the farmers. Patil should apologise for his remarks,” the Congress said.

The Karnataka BJP strongly backed the minister and asserted that the Congress was shedding crocodiles tears. “During Congress government between 2013-18, more than 3,800 farmers died by suicide. Where did your concern for farmers go then?” the Karnataka BJP questioned.



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