Chennai: The massive protest march by farmers in Delhi last week drew the attention of the entire country, but there was complete silence from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Agriculture Minister. Now, in another evidence of BJP’s ‘kisan-virodhi’ approach, Pon Radhakrishnan, a senior BJP leader and Union Minister has gone ahead and criticised the protesting farmers.
Slamming farmers from Tamil Nadu who participated in the Kisan Mukthi March held on November 29-30, Radhakrishnan, who is Minister of State for Shipping and the only minister from Tamil Nadu in the Modi Cabinet, attacked the protesters saying they tarnished the reputation of farmers from the state.
Around 1,200 farmers from Tamil Nadu participated in the march in Delhi. Led by Ayyakkannu, this group vented their anger and frustration in a novel way, something they had done earlier too during their month-long protest in Delhi last year. They stripped themselves and covered their body parts with the skulls and bones of their fellow farmers who committed suicide in the past years. Visuals of this protest went viral in social media.
Talking to mediapersons in Coimbatore airport, Radhakrishnan reportedly said that the protesters had degraded the status of other farmers in Tamil Nadu, adding that he was condemning the protest as a Tamil. He went on to allege that the protesters had financial backing of some political parties from the state.
The Minister's response is not a surprise. The same group of farmers has conducted a protest in Delhi a couple of months back in a similar manner. Even though the struggle lasted for many weeks and caught the attention of political parties and the media, it didn’t yield any results as far as the loan waiver they were demanding is concerned. The Centre and the state governments had failed the farmers, which is why the growing anger.
To add to the miseries of farmers in TN, cyclone Gaja hit the state causing huge losses to farmers who are already in distress due to the severe drought in the state. Crops and cattle were lost and many farmers are still displaced since the water level is yet to subside. Since the farmers cannot bear the expense of removing uprooted trees, the state government held a meeting with the people from the paper industry and they have promised help. The companies will pay an amount to the farmers for the trees and then remove it for use by the industry for paper production.
Though this might give some farmers relief, the majority of the community in the cyclone- hit districts are still reeling under its effects are deeply dissatisfied with the government’s relief work.