On Friday, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders headed to drought-hit Mandsaur in Madhya Pradesh, where five farmers lost their lives in police firing on Tuesday.
Their visit comes a day after Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s dramatic attempt to visit Madhya Pradesh’s Mandsaur and his brief arrest.
Mr Gandhi headed to the area on a bike after his convoy was stopped in Rajasthan. He defied police barricades and was arrested by the police in Neemuch, and held at a guest house for four hours. After his release, he met some of the farmers who have been protesting to demand better prices for their produce and loan waivers.
AAP spokesperson Sanjay Singh alleged that farmers had been forced to carry on such a protest because of the “apathy” of the ruling BJP at the Centre and in Madhya Pradesh. He also slammed Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh and said: “On one hand farmers are shot dead and the minister says yoga kijiye (practice yoga), everything will be fine”.
He also targeted PM Modi. “If anything small happens in Europe, Afghanistan or Pakistan the first person in the world to tweet about it would be our Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But he (PM Modi) hasn’t uttered one word on the death of six farmers,” Mr Singh said, adding, “As far as I know, the debt of farmers in Maharashtra is Rs. 30,500 crore. When you can waive Rs. 1,14,000 crore of loans taken by corporates, why can’t you waive farmers’ loans?”
Mr Gandhi, too, lashed out at the Centre and the Madhya Pradesh government, which is also ruled by the BJP. “He (PM Modi) can’t provide the right price for their agricultural produce, can’t give them a bonus, can’t give compensation… He can only give them bullets,” he said.