During the course of the Bt brinjal discussion held at Bangalore on Saturday, Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests, Jairam Ramesh may have faced his worst opposition during the series of meetings he has held across the country. There was an ugly altercation between the minister and a member representing the scientific community which prompted the minister to call him mad.
Santosh B Min, a physiotherapist who is also working on the subject along with the scientific community was targeted by the minister during that meet. Min has not taken the remarks too kindly and in his interaction with rediff.com said that he is preparing a defamation suit and will back down only once the minister 'comes down to Bangalore and apologises for the remarks'.
The meeting was held so that public opinion could be gathered about Bt brinjal. However all of us were taken aback when the minister said that he will discuss only about Bt brinjal and nothing about genetic engineering.
I immediately got up and said that if this is the case then this discussion is a big joke. I said we should be given an opportunity to speak about genetic engineering also. During the course of the discussion many, however, spoke about genetic engineering and also on its pros and cons.
However what we realised through the meeting was that Ramesh was making very unnecessary comments about the public. He was mocking us and this irritated us to no end.
When it was the turn of the scientific community to speak, we brought to his notice a gazette notification of October 2009 in which his ministry had removed 190 plants including the banyan tree from the bio diversity list. Ramesh was obviously taken aback by this and so were a lot of members at the venue.
He did not take too kindly the fact that this notification was brought to his notice. It was then that he started abusing the people there. He remarked that NGOs are undemocratic in nature. My question is who is he to say that? NGO's would have been non-existent if the government had done its work properly. When he said this, I once again stood up and said that this entire public discussion is undemocratic. The police immediately came and tried to remove me from the venue. I somehow managed to stay back.
I was not given a chance to speak. I waited for a long time and tried making eye contact with the minister. Finally he called out my number and when I was about to speak, he asked me if I was the same person who interrupted him earlier. I said that I interrupted since I felt that Monsanto is the biggest killer. That is when he made this rather personal remark and said, 'you go to NIMHANS (National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences) and I am not ready to listen to a mental patient'.
How can a minister make such a remark? I never said that he was an agent of Monsanto but only said that he was holding a brief for them. This is something that he cannot run away from. Monsanto is a death knell and instead of introducing Bt brinjal, you might as well starve the people to death in our country.
I will ensure that he resigns and repents for what he said. I am preparing a defamation suit and Ramesh must come down and admit to the nation that he had done wrong and this is no way to speak to the public.