Chandigarh: In Haryana, a state where a dozen farmers have committed suicide in four months, lawmakers have been gifted laptops and a substantial hike in car and home loans.
All 90 legislators smiled for the cameras today as they received laptops from Chief Minister ML Khattar. They will also be given Rs 20 lakh each as car loans - double what they get now - and a 20 lakh hike in home loans to Rs 60 lakh.
The legislators have also been given Rs 5,000 more for private staff.
The state's BJP government is yet to compensate farmers who have suffered huge crop loss. Opposition parties alleged that the government has not even acknowledged farmer suicides, at least 12 since January.
The government's bounty for lawmakers came on a day Agriculture Minister Om Prakash Dhankar faced condemnation for his insensitive comments on farmer suicides. "According to Indian law, suicide is a crime. A person who commits suicide runs away from his responsibilities. Such people are cowards and the government cannot stand by such cowards, such criminals," he had said on Tuesday.
Today he justified those remarks, saying that "Haryana is the land of the brave, we don't want to encourage suicides here."
Mr Dhankar has denied more than once that farmers in the state are committing suicide because of damaged crops. The Chief Minister has also called it a complex issue and said there are "multiple reasons" for the suicides.