Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat today refused to comment on Congress chief Rahul Gandhi's statement that farmers in BJP-ruled states like Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan were in distress.
Taking a dig at Rahul Gandhi, the Union Minister of State for Agriculture said that it would "not be appropriate" to comment on the statement of a person "who doesn't know the difference between wheat and paddy crops".
Mr Shekhawat was replying to a query on Mr Gandhi's allegation about agrarian distress in several parts of the country.
"I am a farmer, an agriculturists' leader and their representative in the Central government. So I know the condition of the agricultural sector better," he told reporters on the sidelines of a function in Indore.
"It would not be appropriate to comment on the statements of a person who doesn't know the difference between wheat and paddy crops, who doesn't know the difference between a lamb and the offspring of a goat," the minister added.
The minister claimed that farmers were getting the right price for their produce and this had strengthened the agricultural sector.
Speaking on the October 2 police action on protesting farmers marching towards Delhi, the minister said that the government would fulfil their legitimate demands but added that farmers were being "instigated" to reap political benefit in view of the upcoming Assembly polls.
Farmers marching towards Delhi as part of the Bharatiya Kisan Union's (BKU) protest call over demands ranging from farm loan waiver to reduction in fuel prices were stopped at the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border on October 2 with police using water cannons to disperse them.
Mr Shekhawat stated that the government was trying to increase the export of soyabean and other agricultural products seeing an opportunity in the ongoing US-China trade tussle.
"In view of the ongoing China-US trade war, there is a huge opportunity for agrarian economies like India. So our government is making efforts to promote the export of agriculture based products," he said.
Mr Shekhawat said previous Congress governments betrayed farmers as well as those in the food processing industry.
This, he claimed, had led to an increased dependence on import of edible oil. "To reduce this dependence, our government increased the import duty on edible oil four times. We also increased the minimum support price of oilseeds so that farmers get the right price of their produce and more farmers get attracted to such crops," he said.
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