The Supreme Court has termed farmer suicides “a national issue of a larger public interest”, and called for a national policy in January. Not every politician seems to care.

For BJP MLA Rameshwar Sharma from Madhya Pradesh, even sensitivity seems conspicuous by its absence. In a meeting, the MLA asserted that honest farmers do not commit suicide.

“Mare woh kisaan hain jo kisaan kum aur subsidy chaatne ka vyapaar zyada karte hain. (The ones who die are those who are not farmers so much as they are in the business of lick up subsidies.)“

Sharma’s own state has seen 826 suicides, while the country had 5,650 farmer suicides, according to a 2014 report of the National Crime Records Bureau.

While all parties are trying to woo farmers in Uttar Pradesh with promises of waivers and loans, Sharma further accused a so-called nexus between rich farmers and authorities for tarnishing the image of agriculture.

“A real farmer never commits suicide. Those who made money using illegal ways, borrowed money and consumed alcohol, have defamed the farmer community,” Sharma said.

In 2016, BJP MP Gopal Shetty had mocked farmer suicides as a fashionable trend.