Sonia blasts Agriculture Minister for 'outrageous' statement on farmers' suicides

New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Monday said that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA Government's 'anti-farmer' policies has crippled farmers and also criticised Union Agriculture Minister Raja Mohan Singh for rubbing salt into their wounds by giving an outrageous answer to a question on farmer suicides.

'The government's anti-farmer policies have crippled rural India. Farmers are up in arms against the amendments to the 2013 land acquisition law. While the government fails to increase MSP in the manner the UPA used to, the doors are now open to large-scale imports of wheat. Does Make in India not apply to our kisans? And to make matters worse, the Agriculture Minister rubs salt into their wounds by giving an outrageous answer to a question on farmer suicides,' said Gandhi.

'Rubber cultivators are facing great distress as are coconut, coffee and tea growers. Yet, the government is unmoved and top posts in some of these Boards have been vacant for many months,' she added.

Sonia Gandhi (left) and Rahul Gandhi

The Congress president further said that the Narendra Modi Government has come down heavily on civil society organisations and social action groups.

'For reasons best known to it, the government has come down heavily on civil society organisations and social action groups. They are integral to our democracy and many serve as the moral conscience of our society. But this government has been quick to silence and muzzle any activism, any grassroots movement for mobilization. Thousands of NGOs are under threat by the draconian actions of the government. And there is clearly a strong element of vengeance in these actions against some NGOs who have been exposing the dark deeds of those in power,' she said.

'The manner in which the Ministry of Human Resource Development has been mortgaged to a certain ideology should be of concern to the entire country, particularly the youth whose future is being endangered by communalism and mediocrity in learning and culture. There is a systematic erosion of the autonomy and competence of institutions of higher education that have been built up so carefully over the decades,' she added.

Sonia also claimed that the 2014 survey conducted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development and UNICEF was kept under wraps as it showed Gujarat in poor light on various child nutrition and health indicators.

'Between November 2013 and May 2014 the Ministry of Women and Child Development and UNICEF conducted a rapid survey of child health. The survey has been kept under wraps. Why? First, because it showed that child malnutrition, though still unacceptably high did decline appreciably during the UPA decade of 2004 to 2014. But more important, it showed Gujarat in poor light on various child nutrition and health indicators,' the Congress president said.
'The state was well below the national average. So much for the Modi miracle. Or perhaps we should ask: is this the Modi model'benefit the few at the expense of the many leaving the vulnerable to fend for themselves,' she said.

'For over four decades, the north-eastern states have enjoyed a special category status along with northern hill states when it comes to financial assistance from the Central government. And what has this government done? It has abolished the very concept of special category status which will prove detrimental to the economic interests of these eleven states,' she added.

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