Premalatha Vijayakanth, the wife of Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) chief Vijayakanth, joined the protesting Tamil Nadu farmers at Jantar Mantar on Tuesday, as they staged a new protest eating rice off the ground — known as Mannu Soru in Tamil. The farmers, who are primarily demanding a drought relief package of Rs 40,000 crore for the state, have been protesting for 29 days in the national capital.
Premalatha, who travelled from Chennai on Tuesday to meet the farmers, said, “We need to find an appropriate solution immediately.” She added that each issue raised by the farmers must be addressed by the Tamil Nadu government, and proposed to the Centre with appropriate solutions.
Some of the demands put forth by the farmers include loan waivers, inter-linking of rivers, pensions for farmers, setting up a Cauvery management board and drought relief measures.
“I’m not here to blame any party from Tamil Nadu; DMK and AIADMK are not to blame,” Premalatha said, speaking to reporters. “We do not want people to suffer and that’s why we (DMDK team) are here.”
She questioned the funds allocated in the state budget for farmers, asking, “Where is the money? Why is there no implementation?”
DMK MP Tiruchi Siva was also seen interacting with the farmers on Tuesday.
Over 150 farmers have been camping in Jantar Mantar hoping to attract the Centre’s attention to the crisis in Tamil Nadu. On Monday, after nine farmers were denied the opportunity to present their demands to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, three escalated their agitation by streaking naked across the road near the PMO.
According to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), the 2016 northeast monsoon, Tamil Nadu’s main source of rains, was the worst in 140 years.
The farmers have been both dramatic and innovative in their protests; from using skulls, holding dead rats in their mouths and shaving their heads and moustaches, they even threatened to slit their throats if their demands weren’t met. They have gained the support of farmer unions from nearly all states in the country.