Distressed Tamil Nadu farmers to take on Modi in Varanasi

Rutam Vora Ahmedabad | Updated on March 22, 2019

P Ayyakannu, a lawyer and noted farmer leader from Tamil Nadu. Photo: The Hindu   -  The Hindu

Distressed ryots want to protest against BJP govt. for making ‘false’ promises

Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have to face a tough challenge in Varanasi from an unexpected quarter. As many as 111 distressed farmers from parts of Tamil Nadu have decided to file nominations from the Varanasi constituency from where the Prime Minister is running for the Lok Sabha.

This, according to them, is to register their opposition to the current regime led by the BJP for failing to keep the promises made in 2014.

Prem Kumar, a paddy farmer from the Theerampalayam village of Manachanallur taluka in Trichy, said this fight is for his rights and livelihood. “I will file my nomination papers from Varanasi. We want to convey to our farmer peers in Varanasi how we have been cheated with false promises of water and doubled prices for farm produce,” Kumar told Businessline.

Kumar has a family of six with farming as the only livelihood. He grows paddy and sugarcane on his five-acre land but is unable to repay a debt of ₹6 lakh. Most of his other peers are paddy, sugarcane and banana growers.

While the ruling party’s campaigning for the Lok Sabha elections revolves around the NDA government’s military achievements, distressed farmers are throwing their weight around to change the narrative back to farm distress that is plaguing the country’s peasants.

Support for the farmers

“About 250 people from here will join these farmers to show their support for the Varanasi election. Tickets on Ganga-Kaveri Express are already booked and we will reach before April 23, the last day for filing nominations,” said P Ayyakannu, a lawyer and noted farmer leader from Tamil Nadu. Ayyakannu has been leading the farmers’ agitation after the State witnessed its worst drought in the past 140 years.

“Modi had promised to double the price for our produce. He had also promised interlinking of rivers to ensure water availability. He has not kept his promises. We will ask the people of Varanasi to not vote for Modi but to vote for a farmer,” he said.

Even as it appeares to be a Herculean task to challenge the political might of the ruling party and the charisma of the Prime Minister, Ayyakannu believes that the message of the plight of Tamil Nadu farmers must reach the voters of Varanasi before electing Modi.

“We don't believe in community or money (power). We are going to request the people of Varanasi to understand the problems faced by Tamil Nadu farmers. The situation is so bad that a farmer is no better than a begger, and therefore he has to commit suicide. We will plead before the Varanasi voters to save the farmers from begging and committing suicide,” added Ayyakannu.

Published on March 22, 2019

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