Farmer leaders and activists have condemned the statement by Bharatiya Janata Party leader and MP for Bengaluru South Tejasvi Surya that the State need not depend on the Centre for flood relief assistance.
“This is nothing short of a betrayal. We had great hopes that the BJP government would help us out of this crisis. But now, we are disappointed,” said Sidagouda Modagi, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha leader. “Does the young leader not know that farmers across flood-hit districts are suffering? If he only visited villages, he would have known the facts. He can keep making such statements in air-conditioned offices and guesthouses in Bengaluru and New Delhi, but no one will take him seriously,” he said.
Sharada Gopal, of the Jagruta Mahila Okkoota, described it as an “insensitive and irresponsible” statement.
“The condition of the poor is so bad that even if they are paid more than the prescribed compensation, they will not be able to reconstruct their lives in a decade. Obviously, the MP does not have any experience of any kind of deprivation. He does not know what it means for a poor family to lose their home. Being an elected leader, he should lobby for the poor and not be an advocate of a government that is insensitive to the needs of the voters,” she said. Dilip Kamat, senior leader of the Grameena Koolikarmikara Sangha, a federation of MNREGA workers and farm women, said: “The MP’s statement reeks of insensitivity towards the flood affected, and ignorance of democratic principles like federalism and arrogance of power”.
“He has asked the Congress not to play politics over such issues. In fact, it is he who is playing politics. He is trying to defend his party blindly, without getting into the merits of the case. He is trying to defend the delay by the Centre by claiming there is no need for central assistance. If that is the case, what is the need for a disaster relief mechanism at the Centre or a National Calamity Relief Fund?”
He also accused the MP of displaying his ignorance of the basics of administration and said that he failed to differentiate between the allocation of the 14th Finance Commission recommendations, and the disaster relief funds. “While finance commission allocations are for routine administration, disaster relief funds are for calamities. That is why an elaborate calamity relief mechanism is built at the central level, to help States recover from emergencies. Does he not understand this or is he trying to fool the people?” Mr. Kamat asked.
Meanwhile, Sanjay Patil, BJP leader and former MLA, has denied that Mr. Surya had made any such statement. “I was with him during the Belagavi press conference. He has been wrongly quoted,” Mr. Patil told journalists in Vijayapura on Saturday.