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Primetime TV Squabbles on MP Farmer Killings: Who Said What?

The killing of 5 farmers in Mandsaur on Tuesday has snowballed into national debate about the state of farmers.  

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3 min read
The Mandsaur tragedy claimed the lives of 5 farmers. (Photo: PTI)

Five farmers were allegedly shot dead by the Madhya Pradesh police on Tuesday during the ongoing farmers’ protest, triggering violence and unrest in the state.

The Shivraj Singh Chouhan government had categorically denied police role in the firing, and had ordered a judicial probe into the matter. TV channels, however, have reported that top cops from the state have admitted to police being involved in the firing.

Violence spiraled on Wednesday, with vehicles being set ablaze in various parts of Madhya Pradesh and the Centre, after a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent armed forces to Mandsaur.

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The ten-day protest started on 1 June, with the farmers demanding that the government waives off their loans, and that they be given the minimum support price.

In their prime time discussion on Wednesday, television news channels discussed the ignorance of the BJP government, whether Congress played a role in inciting the violence, who was actually behind opening fire at the farmers, and the broader issue of farm loan waiver – whether it is a prudent government policy or not.

(Photo Courtesy: CNN-News18 Screengrab)
(Photo Courtesy: CNN-News18 Screengrab)

On Ignorance of The BJP Govt

On CNN-News 18, Varun Patel, a Patidar leader, blamed the BJP for the anger among the farmers.

The six farmers who died in Mandsaur is because of BJP’s bullets. 
Varun Patel

Meanwhile Changal Reddy, general secretary of the Indian Farming Association, questioned BJP’s ‘Acche Din’ promise in the primetime debate on Republic TV:

India has been simmering with farmer’s unrest for the last three years. There have been problems in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and now Madhya Pradesh. BJP has done nothing. Is this acche din? 
Chengal Reddy

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra, on the other hand, chose to stress on the “impeccable” record of the Madhya Pradesh government in the agricultural sector, saying:

Shivraj Singh Chouhan delivered governance that people wanted.
Sambit Patra to Times Now
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On Whether Congress Played a Role in Inciting The Violence

Senior Congress leader Kamal Nath rejected allegations of Congress’ involvement in the unrest.

Farmers are apolitical. They agitated because of agony and pain. If a farmer is distressed, we won’t be able to incite them. 
Kamal Nath to Republic

Patra, on the other hand, emphasised on the need to question the Congress regarding the incident.

If the MP government has met the demands of the farmers, then who is inciting this violence. We have to question the Congress party. 
Sambit Patra

On Who Opened Fire?

The Shivraj Singh Chouhan government had categorically denied police role in the firing, and had ordered a judicial probe into the matter. TV channels, however, have reported that top cops from the state have admitted to police being involved in the firing.

Sanju Verma, BJP spokesperson, asserted in a debate on CNN-News18 that one could not implicate the police in the firing without any evidence. She referred to various statements by the relevant police officials, who denied firing at the protesters.

Patra said that one cannot jump to conclusions before the findings of the judicial probe is out.

We understand people’s anger. But we have to wait for the judicial probe before we come to a conclusion and blame the police.
Sambit Patra
(Photo Courtesy: Republic TV Screengrab)
(Photo Courtesy: Republic TV Screengrab)
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On The Prudence of Farm Loan Waivers

With farmers at Mandsaur agitating for farm loan waiver, and the RBI governor Urjit Patel re-asserting during the monetary policy review about how this policy can be detrimental to the economy, it was natural that the issue came up for discussion in the primetime debates.

Noted economist Shankkar Aiyer said on CNN-News18

Farm loan waiver is like saline for a critical patient... We have discussed more about politics and vandalism, and less about the issue of farmers in agrarian distress... Madhya Pradesh is a state that has claimed 10 percent agriculture growth for almost 15 years. So why is the farmer in MP upset?... Agriculture has never got its due.

Political commentator Yogendra Yadav, who represents Swaraj India, echoed his sentiment

This is not about farm loan waiver, but about farmers not having a source of income in the country. Tragedies like this are bound to repeat, if we do not address the larger issue. 
Yogendra Yadav

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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