CHENNAI: The 15-day-old agitation of Tamil Nadu farmers in New Delhi reached its crescendo on Tuesday with political leaders from the State calling on them one by one and later leading them to the senior most ministers of the Central government and above all, to the President Pranab Mukherjee to represent their grievances.
P Ayyakkanu, president, National-South Indian Rivers Linking Farmers’ Association, who is leading the farmers’ agitation, after meeting Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, announced that their protest would continue as the meeting did not bear any fruit.
DMK MP Tiruchi N Siva took the farmers’ representatives to Jaitley, while M Thambidurai, the Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha and parliamentary party leader of AIADMK (Amma), along with R Doraikkannu, the Tamil Nadu Agriculture Minister, led the farmers to the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh. In the evening, TMC president GK Vasan took them to the President.
Besides, Thambidurai called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and submitted Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami’s letter on the demands of the farmers agitating in Delhi.
After meeting Jaitley, DMK MP Siva told mediapersons that farmers had insured their crops on 31 lakh acres for a sum of around Rs 8,878 crore.
“We urged the Union Finance Minister to instruct the insurance companies to disburse the claims to the farmers immediately. Besides, we have also sought funds for the State government under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme for renovation of water resources among others,” he said. Jaitley, he said, had promised to do the needful on these two issues. But with regard to the waiver of farm loans, he did not give any assurance as it is a policy decision to be taken by the Central Government.
Stating that he had met Jaitley for the third time now, Ayyakkanu said during the last two times, the minister accepted their petitions in haste. “But this time, perhaps because we were led by the DMK MP, he was kind enough to offer us seats. He also gave a patient hearing and promised to do whatever possible from his end. In all, today’s meeting was better than our previous meetings with him. But our demands remain unfulfilled. So, we will continue our agitation until the Prime Minister announces waiver of loans availed by the farmers,” he said.
After meeting the President, Vasan told mediapersons that the agitation of the TN ryots has created a national-level awareness about the farmers’ issues. “The farmers are in a hapless situation and the Centre and State governments should come forward to resolve their issues at the earliest,” he said.
DMK MPs TKS Elangovan and RS Bharathi called on the farmers and expressed their solidarity. Elangovan said the Centre was more particular about filling up its coffers than helping TN where farmers are severely affected by drought. Former union minister Mani Shankar Aiyar of the Congress also met the farmers.
Meanwhile, in TN, the Chief Minister chaired a high-level meeting at the Secretariat regarding the drought relief works and the measures being taken to mitigate drinking water shortage.