Tamil Nadu farmers to double up as 'Aghoris' in UP to take on PM Narendra Modi

Tamil Nadu farmers to double up as
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The farmers leader had held various forms of protest including entering the sea in Tamil Nadu to highlight their demands.

Over 100 Tamil Nadu ryots will dress up like Aghori sadhus (Shiva followers) and seek alms in Uttar Pradesh to pay for filing their nomination to the Varanasi constituency from where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is contesting, farmers' leader P Ayyakannu said on March 24.

This plan is to try and bring back focus on the plight of farmers besides collecting money (about Rs 25,000 for each nomination) for filing papers, Ayyakannu said.

"We plan to dress up like Aghori sadhus and seek alms," Ayyakannu, president of the National South Indian Rivers Inter-Linking Farmers Association, told PTI in an interview.

Ayyakannu had said on March 23 that 111 farmers from Tamil Nadu would contest against Modi from Varanasi if the BJP does not assure them of fulfilling their demands such as profitable prices for farm produce and include it in the party manifesto.

Had the Centre fulfilled their demands following several protests in Delhi in 2017, he said they would not have been forced to resort to such "methods."

Ayyakannu said "our Aghori sadhus protest mode will help people realise that our demands are just and fair." "We are also thinking of holding a nude protest to highlight our demands like we did in Delhi," he said.

The farmers leader had held various forms of protest including entering the sea in Tamil Nadu to highlight their demands.

In November 2018, farmers led by Ayyakannu had gone to Delhi with two skulls, to take part in a kisan rally, alleging it belonged to their colleagues who had allegedly committed suicide over debt.

A key demand, loan waiver, is doable if only the government has the will to do it, according to him.

"The total farmers loan outstandings is only about Rs 75,000 crore across the country," Ayyakannu said.

He claimed that very huge corporate bad loans were being waived by banks.

Ayyakannu wanted to know if farmers who fed the country did not deserve a better deal from the government.

"Our demand for loan waiver is just and fair. We don't have profitable prices for our produce. How do you expect us to clear up our crop loans?" he asked.

Loan waiver from all banks, pension for farmers over 60 years, a complete ban on genetically modified seeds and food products,linking rivers, comprehensive personal insurance are the key demands, the farmers leader added.

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