Belagavi (Kar), Jun 29: The Opposition on Monday turned the heat on the Siddaramaiah government on recurring farmers' suicides in Karnataka, accusing it of being "irresponsible" and "careless" in addressing the issues concerning peasants.
Giving a stormy start to the monsoon session, the opening day was marred by protests by a united opposition over government's alleged failure, which BJP leader Jagadish Shettar charged had left the farmers with no other option but to commit suicide.
Soon after obituary references were made by Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa to members who died recently, Shettar raised the issue of farmer's suicide and non-payment of dues by mills to cane farmers, a major issue in Belagavi district, considered the sugar bowl of Karnataka.
Charging the government with being "irresponsible" and "careless" in addressing the issues faced by farmers, he said, "this attitude has left farmers with no option other than committing suicide." BJP and JDS demanded that the government immediately take steps to pay dues to cane farmers to the tune of Rs 960 crore.
Intervening, the Speaker requested that the opposition should allow Question Hour and he will give them an opportunity for a detailed discussion on the issue later.
Not relenting, the Opposition said they are ready for any kind of discussion only after government pays cane farmers their dues.
"Give money first and let's discuss after that," Deputy Leader of opposition R Ashoka said. Shettar said there have been only discussions on the issue in the last three years but nothing that was promised by the government has happened on the ground.
Ministers R V Deshpande and Jayachandra as also several ruling Congress MLAs defended the government, leading to verbal exchange between both the sides. Intervening, Siddaramaiah said government is ready for discussion and added, "our government is pro-poor and farmer friendly."
During heated exchanges, BJP members entered the well of the House shouting slogans against the government and were joined by JD(S) members.
The Speaker then allowed discussion on the issue after which the Opposition withdrew their protest. In the Legislative Council also, the Opposition BJP and JDS demanded immediate payment of dues to sugarcane growers.
The session of Assembly and Council is being held from today till July 10 in Belagavi and from July 13 to 24 in Bengaluru.