Karnataka government teacher suspended for questioning Union minister over fertilizer shortage

A public school teacher in Bidar, Karnataka, has been suspended for questioning the Union Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilizers, Bhagwanth Khuba, about the unavailability of fertilizers in the area .

The hanging man was identified as Kushal Patil, an assistant teacher at Jeerga village primary school (K) in Aurad taluk of Bidar district. Interestingly, Khuba represents Bidar constituency in the Lok Sabha.

The education department issued a suspension order last Thursday after the conversation between Patil and Khuba went viral where the two exchanged heated arguments. The Deputy Director of Public Instruction on June 17 issued the order against Patil for “dereliction of duty, irresponsibility and misconduct by intentionally recording the phone conversation and causing it to go viral on social media platforms.”

In the preamble to the order, the officer referred to the lawsuit filed by Deepak Patil Lambori demanding action against Patil for calling Khuba at midnight on June 15 to discuss the fertilizer shortage and ‘defame’ the minister of the Union by making their telephone conversation public. . The officer referred to media reports and the preliminary investigation report submitted by the block’s education officer on the matter.

In the phone conversation, Khuba is heard telling Patil to approach local officials or MPs if there was a shortage of fertilizer as Union Minister he cannot deal with minor issues. It gets ugly as the row escalates as Patil challenges the minister to come to the village to seek votes in the upcoming election.

Speaking to the Indian Express, Patil said it was his duty to get the attention of the people’s representatives and he had to address the injustice the farming community is facing.

Patil, who owns about 88 acres of land where he grows sugar cane, seeds and other agricultural products, said that after his school hours (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.), he goes to the closed. “Our family depends on income. The Union government and Khuba claim that there is no shortage of fertilizer. But the reality on the ground is that fertilizers are not available on the local market. We run from pillar to post to get a bag of DAP,” Patil said.

It is not the first time that farmers have faced the unavailability of fertilizers, he added. “In October 2021, we had to source fertilizer from Telangana and we also went to Maharashtra for the same. People there are laughing at us asking despite a Union minister from your state and constituency, farmers in Karnataka are going to other states for fertilizers.

Speaking about his suspension, Patil said he won’t go along with these cheap tactics. “We elected him and have every right to question him. We cannot allow this dictatorship. The teachers’ association district unit held a meeting on Monday and will decide the next court of action. I will not succumb to any pressure.

Khuba told the Indian Express that there was no shortage of fertilizer in the area and alleged that Patil called him several times on the phone on the same day. The Union Minister said that after receiving three missed calls on his phone from an unknown number, he called back.

“I attended a district review meeting on June 13 in Kalaburgi and June 14 in Bidar. No one raised the issue, then. In fact, members of the Primary Agricultural Cooperative Credit Society came to my office on June 12 and congratulated me. They also did not raise a problem because there was no problem with the supply of fertilizer.

“He can interrogate me and he has full rights but in the conversation he threatened me. And he posted the audio on a public platform where he speaks rudely,” he added.

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