TRICHY: After hitting national headlines with their long-drawn protests in New Delhi in 2017, farmers from Tamil Nadu have now decided to take the electoral route to register their protest against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s alleged neglect of their demands.
A total of 111 farmers owing allegiance to Desiya Thennindiya Nadhigal Inaippu Sangam from Trichy will contest against Modi in Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh if the BJP refuses to include their demand in its election manifesto. They revealed their plan here on Friday while reserving tickets for travelling to Varanasi from Trichy. “We will be contesting against PM Modi for which we will file our nominations on April 24. It is our response to his silence during our protest to safeguard our livelihood,” said sangampresident Ayyakannu here on Friday. Varanasi goes to the polls on May 19 in the final phase of the seven-phase parliamentary elections. The filing of nomination begins on April 22 and ends on April 29.
The farmers said that frustration over the refusal of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to meet protesting farmers in New Delhi was the key reason for them to contest. Listing out several demands including Rs 40,000 crore relief to drought-hit areas of Tamil Nadu, the farmers led by Ayyakannu had launched an indefinite protest in Jantar Mantar during mid-March in 2017. They staged the protest in New Delhi for 41 days in the first phase and another 100 days till October 23, 2017.
The central government had released Rs 1,740 crore towards drought relief instead of the Rs 40,000 crore sought by the state government. The protesters drew attention when they stripped outside South Block on April 10 after they were allegedly denied permission to meet the Prime Minister. “During our 141 days of protest, Pon Radhakrishnan promised to implement our demand.
We will meet him now and insist on including our demands in their manifesto. If he accepts, we will not contest, but otherwise we definitely will,” said Ayyakannu. He said the members of All India Kisan Coordinate Committee which comprises farmers from all over the country would campaign for them in Varanasi.