BJD Lok Sabha member Pinaki Mishra on Monday indirectly blamed the BJP for suicides by farmers in Odisha, saying they had taken loans from money lenders, most of whom owed allegiance to the BJP.
“Farmers are committing suicide due to debt burden. People from the BJP are running money-lending business in the state and they are charging interest to farmers at rates as high as 36 percent per annum,” the Biju Janata Dal told reporters after meeting Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
“These money lenders are forcing farmers to repay the dues, leading to their suicides,” he said.
Mishra said he requested the chief minister to direct the state police chief to immediately crack down on the money lenders.
Reacting to Mishra’s statement, BJP leader Suresh Pujari said his party has no links with any money lenders.
“It is the ruling BJD which is exploiting the farmers, not the BJP. From the outset, we are demanding action against money lenders responsible for the suicide by farmers,” said Pujari, and demanded a judicial probe.
Odisha police chief K.B. Singh earlier said action would be taken against money lenders as per the provisions under the Odisha Money Laundering Act.