DMK stage hunger strike in solidarity with farmers

DMK, allies stage hunger strike in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry in support of protesting farmers

DMK chief and Leader of Opposition, M K Stalin, party MP Kanimozhi and leaders of alliance parties participated in the protest

Leader of Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly Opposition and DMK party chief MK Stalin. Credit: PTI File Photo

The DMK-led opposition in Tamil Nadu on Friday embarked on a day-long hunger strike in support of farmers protesting against the three farm laws enacted by the Centre recently, demanding the contentious legislations be repealed.

While DMK President M K Stalin led the fast at Valluvar Kottam here, Puducherry Chief Minister and Congress veteran V Narayanasamy headed the agitation in the neighbouring union territory.

Farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting outside Delhi for over three weeks against the central legislations, demanding that they be repealed.

Stalin said the opposition bloc was extending solidarity to farmers who were taking forward the protests to "protect their life", even as he questioned the 'haste' with which the laws were enacted.

He termed the farm laws as "anti-people" and against the ryots.

"Farmers have been protesting (outside Delhi) for 23 days as of today. We have been extending our support to them through various protests but today's hunger strike has been undertaken to express solidarity on behalf of the Secular Progressive Alliance," Stalin, also Tamil Nadu Leader of Opposition, said in his address.

The DMK-led coalition in the state is known as the Secular Progressive Alliance and had faced the 2019 Lok Sabha polls under this banner.

Lashing out at the BJP-led Centre, Stalin questioned the 'haste' in enacting the laws during the COVID-19 pandemic and also hit out at the union government over its labour reforms and the draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) among others.

The government was not standing by the people but corporates, he alleged, and charged the Centre with offering a slew of sops to big private firms.

"Today, the entire country is in a boil against these three (farm) laws...farmers are staying put in Delhi with their families despite the harsh winter and are opposing the legislations as the legislations are totally against agriculture," he said.

The government should have consulted stakeholders including farmers before enacting the laws or had discussions in the Parliament to 'safeguard democracy.'

"The Central government did not do any of these. What is the haste. To protect whom have they brought these laws. They should clarify these before people," the DMK chief demanded.

Stalin termed as "a drama" the Centre's talks with representatives of the protesting farmers and pointed out that the farmers wanted nothing less than a repeal of the laws and not any amendments to the acts.

He also took objection to the protesters being "branded by the government as anti-nationals, foreign agents, Maoists..."

DMK and its allies support the farmers' demand for repealing of the laws, he said and asserted "our protests will continue till then."

Besides Stalin, party MP Kanimozhi, alliance party leaders-- Vaiko of MDMK, former TNCC president K V Thangkabalu and those from the CPI, CPI (M) and VCK participated in the protest here.

A two-minute silence was observed at the protest site for farmers who have died so far during the protests near Delhi.

Meanwhile, in neighbouring Puducherry, chief minister Naryanasamy, leaders from Congress, the Left parties and VCK observed a fast at Odiansalai.

The chief minister told reporters that the Centre had brought in the controversial laws which would "harm farmers and help corporates."

He appealed to the Centre to immediately repeal the laws and protect agriculture.

Separately, DMK legislators R Siva, K Venkatesan and former Education Minister S P Sivakumar and members of different wings of the party went on the hunger strike in Tirukanoor village.