The DMK and six other parties on Sunday called for a one-day Tamil Nadu bandh on April 25 to highlight the plight of the state’s farmers who are reeling under a devastating drought.
The meeting was called by DMK working president MK Stalin who is rallying all opposition parties behind him to appropriate the anti-Centre stance that AIADMK general secretary and chief minister Jayalalithaa occupied over a host of issues.
Stalin chaired the all-party the meet at the DMK headquarters sans the two warring factions of AIADMK and the BJP whom he holds responsible for the agrarian crisis afflicting Tamil Nadu farmers. Stalin had recently visited Delhi to express solidarity with a group of Tamil farmers who have been protesting for a few weeks.
On Sunday he got the smaller parties and the Left to come on a single platform, to articulate the people’s anger and resentment over the Centre’s alleged step motherly treatment to Tamil Nadu.
For the present, nothing highlights this aspect more than the images of Tamil farmers protesting with skulls of fellow farmers who committed suicide while there is no acknowledgement from the Central government to their plight.
The two Left parties – CPM and CPI, Congress, Indian Union Muslim League, and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi leaders participated in the meeting while another regional party, Pattali Makkal Katchi stayed away despite invitation.
The meeting resolved to seek full loan waiver of all farmers, setting up of the Cauvery River Water Management Board and an audience with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Incidentally, Nallakannu, the leader of farmers protesting in New Delhi questioned as to why the Prime Minister had all the time to meet captains of corporate sector and industry leaders did not have even a few minutes to spare for the poor farmers now under the grip of the state’s worst ever drought.
“What mistake we have done. What is our fault, why does not the PM meet us?” questioned Nallakannu whose wails were beamed into Tamil Nadu homes on regional television channel news programmes on Sunday.
In his turf war with the AIADMK, Stalin has wrested the initiative in the state, which has of late been at the receiving end as far as the perception of the people is concerned. Jayalalithaa had managed to keep aspiring medical students in Tamil Nadu out of NEET (medical entrance examination), forcefully articulated against some of the provisions under GST that she thought would diluting the powers of the state government and attempts to “impose Hindi”
However, with the ruling AIADMK preoccupied with its own survival given the developing political crisis for its leadership, the BJP sees a chance to squeeze in. Sensing such a move, Stalin has quickly pounced on these issues and taken a strong anti-BJP and anti-Centre stand to articulate the sentiments of the Tamil people on emotive issues.
One such is the subtle move to replace English with Hindi on milestones on national highways in Tamil Nadu. Stalin was among the first to flag this issue the moment the incident was reported in media here.
On Sunday, he read out the 15 resolutions at the all party meeting. Stalin said there was nothing political about the all-party meeting. “It is called to discuss the farmers’ distress and try to find ways to resolve their problems,” Stalin said.
Among the resolutions is the one that wanted the state government to follow orders of the Madras high court and the Supreme Court on the farmers’ issue. Another resolution demanded that Cauvery delta area be declared a disaster prone area which would make it eligible for special relief packages.
The all-party meet also asked the state government to convene a special assembly to pass a resolution on the farmers’ demands. “We have also adopted a resolution that sought to prevent neighboring states from constructing check dams,” Stalin told media persons after the meeting.
VCK leader Thirumavalanan said that it was also resolved to hold a massive rally in Chennai on April 22 on the need to hold Tamil Nadu bandh on April 25.
CPM Tamil Nadu state secretary G Ramakrishnan said that it was for the first time since 2008, when CPM walked out of UPA alliance on the nuclear deal that the CPM was participating in a joint action with the DMK. The DMK is in alliance with the Congress in the state.
TNCC chief S Tirunavukkarassar said that farmers were suffering but the Central government was oblivious to their agony.