‘Better You Die’: Karnataka Minister Umesh Katti Tells Anguished Farmer After State Slashes Rice Quantity Under PDS

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.

When some journalists suggested that perhaps he should have told the farmer he must not die and reassure him of the government’s help, Katti said, “I don’t have such a big heart… I’m a small-hearted person.”

He further clarified that he had tried telling the farmer there is enough foodgrains for everyone. “But he asked me, what if I die. What do I say to that? There is a limit to everyone’s patience. I tell you all now. No one in the state must die, I have the responsibility from our chief minister to ensure nobody dies.”

Opposition leaders, including Congress president DK Shivakumar and Janata Dal-Secular’s HD Kumarasway have lashed out at Katti’s “insensitive” remarks.

Demanding that the minister be sacked, Shivakumar said, “We were giving 7kg rice when the Congress was in power. It was brought down to 5kg and now, it is 2kg. If someone calls up to ask how do we survive on this, a minister tells, ‘go die’. Why do we need ministers like this. I only have one thing to ask from the CM. Sack this minister immediately and seek an apology.”

Kumaraswamy, the former chief minister, said he food minister has lost all sense of humanity. The JD(S) leader, who recently recovered from coronavirus, took to Twitter and sought his resignation. “The food minister who should be coming to the aid of people living in hunger has shown such arrogance and lost all sense of humanity.”

katti is an eight-time MLA from Belagavi in North Karnataka and was inducted into the cabinet barely three months ago.

Source: News18

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