Farmers associations here intend to use the newly introduced None of the Above (NOTA) option in the EVMs during the Lok Sabha elections to register their protest against all parties for allegedly ignoring their livelihood issues.
Their major grouse: none of the parties came forward to protect agriculture when the dyeing units were polluting the water canals and ground water.
Farmers constitute a sizeable section of voters in this constituency. The associations claim they would be able to persuade 60,000 voters to opt for NOTA. Even if they manage half that number, political parties would be worried since the margin of victory this time around could be really slim because of a multi-cornered contest.
Interestingly, NOTA was not their original weapon of dissent. Farmers from various associations - headed by the Association for Farmers Affected by Dye Effluents president Ramasamy - had first wanted to put up their own candidate and ensure he/she is sent to Parliament. That failed to work as the proponents of the idea could not raise enough funds and consolidate the opinion of all the farmers’ associations. So, NOTA became their next-best option.
Various local farmers’ associations, including Thottakurichi General Farmers Association and Vadakupalayam Siruneeretru Pasana Sangamand others have accepted exercising the NOTA option.
Efforts are on to rope in other major farmer associations in various parts of the district, Ramasamy added. “We hope to persuade 60,000 voters to press the NOTA button on the voting machine,” he said.
Besides contamination of water resources by the rampant illegal dyeing units along the Amaravathy riverbed, excess quarrying of sand in rivers too had affected the water table, the farmers said.