When some journalists said the minister could have reassured him of the government’s help, Umesh Katti said, “I don’t have such a big heart.”
An audio clip of Karnataka Food and Civil Supplies Minister Umesh Katti’s asking a farmer to die has raised a storm in the state’s political circle. The clip in which Katti is heard telling a farmer association member in Gadag “it’s better you die” has gone viral now and opposition leaders have sought an apology from the minister.
The farmer seemed to have called up the minister to enquire about lowering the quantity of rice being given via the public distribution system (PDS) from 5kg to 2kg. He further said that with livelihoods lost over the last one year, many are in distress and this would not be enough.
The minister is heard saying more foodgrains will be distributed as the central government has assured of more supplies for the next two months in view of the current restrictions imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The farmer then asked him when would that be coming, to which Katti said next month. When the farmer then said how would they manage till and asked “do we die”, the minister replied “it’s better you die”.
Issuing a clarification to the media, the minister later said “no one must ask such questions”. “If he says he will die, how do I respond to that? Now if you ask me a question properly, I can reply, but when he calls to ask if he must die, what do I tell him,” he further told reporters.