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Raise Lakhimpur Kheri like incidents each time, not just when BJP in power: Sitharaman blasts Opposition

The finance minister was asked why Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other senior ministers are silent on the issue and why is there a defensive reaction when somebody asks questions about such things.

India TV News Desk India TV News Desk
New Delhi Published on: October 13, 2021 11:19 IST
Nirmala Sitharaman, Lakhimpur Kheri
Image Source : PTI

Lakhimpur Kheri violence 'absolutely condemnable': Sitharaman

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has condemned the Lakhimpur Kheri violence incident which resulted in the death of farmers. Emphasising that there are issues of such nature happening in other parts of India equally which should be raised, the finance minister said the Lakhimpur Kheri incident is 'absolutely condemnable'. 

Sitharaman, who is on an official visit to the US, was responding to a question during a conversation at Harvard Kennedy School on Tuesday about the killing of four farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri and the arrest of Ashish Mishra, son of Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra.

She said such issues, that are happening in other parts of the country should be raised when they happen and when it suits others because there is a BJP government in Uttar Pradesh.

The finance minister was asked why Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other senior ministers are silent on the issue and why is there a defensive reaction when somebody asks questions about such things.

“No, absolutely not... It's nice of you to have picked up that one incident which is absolutely condemnable, every one of us says that. Equally, there are instances happening elsewhere, which is my concern. India has issues of such nature happening in very many different parts of the country equally. I would like you, and many others, including Dr. Amartya Sen, who all know India, to raise it at every time when it happens, not just raise it when it suits us because it's a state where BJP is in power," Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said. 

"One of my cabinet colleague’s son is probably in trouble, and also assume that it's actually them who did it and not anybody else. Due course of justice will also have a complete inquiry process to establish it,” she said.

“And it's not being defensive about my party or by the prime minister. It's being defensive about India. I will talk for India, I will talk for justice for the poor. I will not be mocked at. And if it is mocking, I will be defensive to stand up and say ‘Sorry, let's talk on facts’. That's my answer for you,” she said.

Ashish Mishra was named in an FIR following allegations that he was in one of the vehicles that mowed down four farmers protesting over UP Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya’s visit on October 3.

Here's what Sitharaman said on farmers' protest

To a question on the farmers’ protests, Sitharaman said that the three acts which the government brought in were discussed by the various parliamentary committees over a decade.

She said all three acts have been discussed variously by the state governments, by the Center after the BJP came into power in 2014.

"This has been in the making for a decade now. Every stakeholder has been consulted,” she said.

“When the farm laws were brought in the Lok Sabha, there was an elaborate discussion and the agriculture minister gave his reply as well. It was only when it came to the Rajya Sabha, there was a lot of noise and disturbance,” she said.

Thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana and several other states have been protesting on various borders of Delhi since November 26 last year, seeking repeal of three farm laws enacted in September.

Sitharaman said the protesters belong to one state and some parts of other states - “Punjab, Haryana and some parts of western Uttar Pradesh."

She said the government has been saying that it is willing to talk with the protesters and has been engaging with them.

“We are willing to talk about it, tell us that one particular aspect in any one of the three laws. To date, we have not had even one particular aspect which is being questioned. And therefore, the protesters are not sure on what score they are protesting, what is it that they are objecting to. Then there's this issue about the minimum support price to be given to farmers,” she said, adding that the MSP is announced well in time and the farmers can decide whether they want to grow a crop or not and they can otherwise choose to grow something else.

She said once the farmers choose to grow any of these, for which a minimum support price is announced and procurements are done, through direct benefit transfer using technology, money is deposited as a lump sum into their accounts.

“The highest amount of procurement, the largest ever payment per farmer under the minimum support price which is declared has happened in the last seven years after Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi has come. Highest ever. The number of farmers, the total quantum of money, the total quantum of grain procured in each one of them - the highest as has happened season after season in the last seven years," she said.

Highlighting that there are recorded conversations “which you can see of farmers even from Punjab, even from Haryana”, she said farmers have got the entire amount into their account.

“This is verifiable, not a claim which I'm making. You can go and check it out. The highest amount and the entire amount are given into the account directly the day after procurement is done. No staggering, no delaying,” she said.

“So we have not been told what it is that they're protesting against as yet and the minister is willing to talk even today.” 

(With inputs from PTI)

Also Read | Lakhimpur Kheri violence: Uttar Prdaesh SIT makes fourth arrest

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