Coimbatore: Lashing out at Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi for his interactions with farmers in non-Congress ruled states, Union minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday dared him to visit states ruled by his party to know the ground realities of agrarian crisis.

“I challenge Rahul Gandhi, who is typical in handling the situation, to go to Congress-ruled states, especially Karnataka, where a large number of farmer suicides happened during the last few months," she told reporters here.

Referring to Gandhi’s visits to Tamil Nadu and Anantapur in Andhra Pradesh to meet farmers, she said he should have at least gone to Maharashtra, where highest number of farmer suicides took place during the previous Congress regime. She also sought to know what solutions he offered for these deaths.

On his opposition to the land bill, Sitharaman, said from the tone of Gandhi’s assertion that he would not allow even a piece of land to be acquired by the government, it appeared that he was against development. She also blamed Gandhi for the withdrawal of a project by Posco in Odisha, after he called himself a sipahi when he visited the tribals in the state.

After all, for whose benefit the land was being acquired, to build bridges, roads and other infrastructure, she added.

She disagreed with a suggestion that a cross-section of people with high expectations was not happy with Narendra Modi’s performance of one year in office. “In fact, the impression what I get about the BJP government is that against the terrible odds and environment it is trying to revive the economy, which was in a shambles for the last 10 years," she said. It was providing a transparent government, as evident from the auction of coal and spectrum through which the nation received 2 trillion, with Supreme Court cancelling 122 coal blocks, she said.

“The mandate is for five years, we are just 12 months (old), give us time to redress the situation which had fallen to such a level," she said. On trade agreements, Sitharaman said negotiations were on with countries such as Australia and Canada and also European Union to have Free Trade Agreements. To a question on the logjam in Parliament, the minister, here to participate in a two-day business conference, expressed hope that the situation would return to normal. Though the government agreed to a debate, the opposition backed out, as some of their leaders did not want discussions, she added. PTI

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