Karnataka Agriculture Minister B C Patil on Thursday stirred up a controversy by calling farmers who have died by suicide as “cowards”. The statement comes in the backdrop of the massive protests by farmers in the national capital against the contentious farm bills passed by the centre.  “The farmers who die by suicide are cowards. Only a coward who can’t take care of his wife and children commits suicide. When we have fallen (in the water), we have to swim and win,” news agency PTI quoted Patil as saying. Also Read - Breaking News January 19 LIVE Updates: Flight With First Shipment of Covishield Vaccine to Bhutan Delayed

The Minister was explaining to bamboo growers of Ponnampet how profitable the agriculture business is, but some cowards do not realise that and commit suicide. To buttress his point, Patil cited an example of a woman who was wearing gold bangles. Also Read - 'Bengal Maango Toh Cheer Denge': TMC's Madan Mitra Issues Violent Threat To BJP

“When I enquired with her how her hands were full of gold bangles, You know what she said? She said, “This mother earth has given me for my 35 years of toil.” “Doesn’t this please you all after listening to this?” Patil told the gathering. Also Read - Will Never Bow My Head Before BJP, Says Mamata Banerjee, Calls Saffron Party More Dangerous Than Maoists

Congress Karnataka unit spokesperson V S Ugrappa has condemned Patil’s remark and sought an apology from the minister. “It’s a disrespect to the farmers. He should apologise for it,” Ugrappa told PTI.

“No farmer wishes to end life. There are many reasons such as floods and droughts, which have not been understood and solved yet. Instead of understanding the gravity of the problem, the Minister gives such an irresponsible statement,” Ugrappa said.

Karnataka is the only state after Maharashtra to record the most number of farm sector suicides, according to the 2019 data. Maharashtra recorded over 3,900 suicides in 2019, followed by Karnataka (1,992), Andhra Pradesh (1,029), Madhya Pradesh (541), Telangana (499) and Punjab (302).