Union Minister Rattan Lal Kataria has said Prime Minister Narendra Modi feels the pain of the poor and dalits. He said this while answering a query about the ongoing farmers’ agitation.
Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment and Water Power Rattan lal Kataria is one of the Dalit faces of the Bharatiya Janata Party, who was awarded by the country’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru as a child artist and also had a long association with former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Speaking to IANS, he said: “Modiji spent seven years in Panchkula, I observed him very closely then. He feels the pain of the Dalits and poor from his heart.”
Modi was party’s Punjab and Haryana in-charge between 1992 and 1997.
Kataria, however, did not make any direct comment on the farmers’ stir but expressed his concern about the groundwater situation in the two states from where the maximum number of farmers have joined the protest.
The Union Minister said: “There was a time when India had to import foodgrain for its needs, but Punjab and Haryana made the country independent in terms of rice and wheat production. However, it has become a big problem today.”
He said it takes 35,000 litre of water to produce one kilogram of rice, but farmers are not ready for crop diversification.
Actually, farmers in Punjab and Haryana get the full benefit of the minimum support price (MSP) of both these crops.
During the conversation, referring to the American popstar Rihanna tweeting in favour of the ongoing farmers’ movement in India, Kataria said that (former Congress President) Rahul Gandhi brings some new ‘Shigufa’ whenever he goes abroad. He also lashed out at Rahul for his stand about the farm laws.
Kataria said, “Last time neither mother (Congress President Sonia Gandhi) nor son (Rahul) were in the House on the day the agriculture Bills were passed in Parliament, and when the Bills were passed, Rahul Gandhi was protesting in Punjab, he was seen sitting on the tractor.
Kataria is a strong Dalit leader from Haryana and won the Lok Sabha seat for the third time by a margin of more than three lakh votes on the BJP ticket from Ambala constituency.
Kataria told IANS that when he was 13 years old, the first Prime Minister awarded him for singing a song as a child artist.
He said he had been associated with Vajpayee since childhood, and once recited poetry before him.
Kataria also described an interesting episode of his association with the late Prime Minister Vajpayee. He said his father had twice designed shoes for Vajpayee.
Kataria said that his father joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in 1942 and then he got about 50 per cent of the youth in his village connected with the Sangh. Later Rattan Lal Kataria also joined the RSS. He said at this time almost all the members of his family are connected with the Sangh.