Sugarcane farmers from Belagavi, Bagalkote, Bidar and other adjoining districts hit the streets in Bengaluru to protest against the Karnataka government. The farmers attempted to lay siege to the Vidhan Soudha but returned after the police stopped them midway.
Sugarcane farmers have been protesting for the last few days over the minimum purchase price for sugarcane and pending bills from sugar factory owners. Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy was supposed to meet the farmers and discuss the problems on Monday but the scheduled meeting was later canceled.
Protests broke out in Bagalkote and other districts demanding Kumaraswamy to convene a meeting. Some farmers even tried to break into the Suvarna Soudha in Belagavi district. On the same day the CM lashed out at farmers at an event in Bengaluru which further fanned the fire.
"Our farmers are tolerant and peace-loving. When I go to meet them(farmers) in villages they remove their footwear, keep them aside and greet us. But, what we witnessed recently is anarchy. They're (farmers) attitude is similar to burglars. Our media friends beautifully highlighted how some tried to break-into the Suvarna Soudha. Do you call them farmers? There is a limit to my patience. Those people who are behaving that way are not farmers. They've destroyed the integrity of farmers, they're goondas." -HD Kumaraswamy, CM, K'taka (on Nov 18th)
Kumaraswamy's brother and Pwd Minister HD Revanna's comment caused further damage. "Burning tractors, throwing sugarcane on the streets is not tight. Let them protest peacefully, we have no objection. We must discuss the issue. We cannot just look at the problems faced by farmers. The factory owners too have been affected. Sugar factories across the nation are facing a bad situation. The centre must intervene and provide support price to their crops. If they keep approaching Kumaraswamy, does he have a currency printing machine?"
Former Chief Minister and BJP state president BS Yeddyurappa condemned the comments of Kumaraswamy and Revanna. He said that the BJP stands by the agitating farmers. BSY also warned the government saying that they would raise the issue in the upcoming session and wouldn't let the proceedings to progress if the demands of the farmers are not met.
Karnataka minister for Cooperation Bandeppa Kashempur met the agitating farmers and assured action. "BJP has no moral right to question us being anti-farmer. This is a pro-farmer govt, we have given 45,000 cr farm loan waiver, no other government has waived off loan waiver like what CM has done, there is no question of being anti-farmer. And support them in all their problems. I'm heading the cabinet subcommittee on MSP and we will make sure that farmer produce is procured. CM has called for a meeting tomorrow and strict instructions will be given to mill owners and protect the interests of farmers."
HD Kumaraswamy has called for a meeting with sugarcane farmers in Bengaluru tomorrow. The BJP is meanwhile looking to escalate the matter. The CM's comments have snowballed to a major controversy denting the image of the Congress-JD(S) coalition government.