Farmer Protest Drama at Delhi – Shocking Revelations !
For a little over a month “Farmer Protests” are on-going at New Delhi, by a group of people claiming to be farmers from Tamil Nadu. At first, we thought it was genuine and did support the farmer protest. But when we sat with them and spoke to them, it is obvious that this farmer protest is purely political in nature. We then read about what other journalists have to say on that and realized that all of them have expressed the same view. (http://www.rediff.com/news/column/who-is-behind-tn-farmers-protest/20170404.htm). We thought we could dig through a bit of history to identify the people behind this drama.
The Demands laid in this Farmer Protest:
The farmer protest mainly circles around five points.
- Waive of the Farm Loans – irrespective of the ownership of quantum of Land and irrespective of financial status of the person who obtained the loan.
- Grant Rupees forty thousand crores (₹40,000 crores) to Tamilnadu State Government allegely for Drought relief.
- Interlinking Indian Rivers
- Formation of Cauvery Management Board
- Banning Chemical Fertilizers
On the outset, it seems a noble cause indeed. Just that it is not.
When we spoke to them, we explained that the first point is mostly a subject of State government and cited Uttar Pradesh Loan Waiver as an example. But they seem to avoid any questions on the State Government. We told them that the Centre had released drought relief fund of ₹2,000 crores a month back and asked them if they know what happened to it. They refused to answer. (https://satyavijayi.com/centre-releases-rs-2014-crore-tamil-nadu-deal-losses-due-natural-calamities/)
The last two demands were added after the farmer protest started – when several questions were raised about their demand for such a huge drought grant. Almost all demands are already announced / implemented in one way or other. Cauvery Management Board ran into legal issues and hence may take more time.
River Interlinking Initiatives by the Central Government:
The third demand of River Interlinking is something that is already in progress (https://www.rt.com/news/343635-india-river-linking-drought/). River Interlinking is a scheme announced by Vajpayee government after seeing the success of the then CM Narendra Modi’s implementation of interlinking Narmada and Sabarmati rivers at Gujarat in 2003. The central government has revived the project and has been working on it since the last eight months. We explained to them that the project is huge and may well extend to ten years. And that there are international approvals that are required. For example, Teesta river originates in India and flows into Bangladesh. During Sheikh Hasina’s recent visit to India, she had raised the concern stating that Modi has to ensure water to Bangladesh in the ongoing plans for River Interlinking (http://www.firstpost.com/india/narendra-modi-sheikh-hasina-ink-over-20-pacts-but-water-issue-remains-unresolved-what-is-the-teesta-dispute-all-about-3374614.html). The same concern was raised by Bangladesh last year too.
We told them that such projects of this huge magnitude will take a lot of time and efforts. Sadly even well-educated people seem to expect that the government “completes” River Interlinking in six months. That’s precisely the problem with people who support this farmer protest. They don’t care to dig through the reasons but blindly believe in the memes and stale user videos circulating on the internet.
₹4,00,00,00,00,000 seem to be the only reason for this Farmer Protest:
Even if we exempt the first and the last Demands of the Farmer Protest, the second point seems to be the only pressing demand for them. The second demand states that the Centre has to release ₹40,000 crores to the Sasikala led Tamilnadu Government as drought relief. When we asked to justify the figure, the protesters had no reasonable justification.
When we tried to tell them that the demand for ₹40,000 crores are unjustified, their voices raised and they insisted that centre has to release this fund immediately. According to their own version, the outstanding Farmers debt (large / small farmers) is around ₹72,000 crores all over India. So does it mean almost 60% of Indian farmers reside in Tamilnadu ? When we told them the reality that Tamilnadu is not in the top ten agriculture states in India, they were all silent.
Their entire protest seems to circle around this ₹40,000 crore demand. Assuming that even if government does not waive off loan and even if it does not do anything on interlinking rivers, the protesters would call off the farmer protest if ₹40,000 is granted to state government of Tamilnadu indirectly led by Sasikala.
When we questioned them if they are trying to arm-twist the government into granting the unrealistic drought relief fund, they diverted the issue to Cauvery Water Board formation. We told them that after Supreme Court order (ordering release of water), Karnataka had filed Review Petition in Supreme Court. And until the review petition is settled by the court, Government cannot take action. There were no reasonable explanation given for any of their demands. When we clarified that two of the demands are already implemented, there was silence.
We then directly hit the raw nerve and asked them who is behind them and that who is driving them. The crowd pointed to Ayyakannu, which made us all the more suspicious given his history.
Shri Ayyakannu – Relationship with the RSS and Dr.Subramanian Swamy
Ayyakannu is a 68 old Lawyer from Tiruchirapally, Tamilnadu. He is well off and has several acres of farming land in Tiruchirapally and Musiri. His two sons are lawyers as well.
He was associated with the Farmers wing of the RSS – Bharatiya Kisan Sangh – and was the State Secretary of Bharatiya Kisan Sangh at Tamilnadu. RSS fought for Horticulture relief fund against the Tamilnadu government during 2008 (http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-tamilnadu/Horticulturists-plead-for-relief/article15141955.ece) and he had a good role in the protest. That’s when he learnt some tactics of protesting effectively.
He has a pretty long association with RSS. Before joining RSS, he was a member of Janata Party led by Dr. Subramanian Swamy. He contested as Janata Party Candidate at Musiri, Tamilnadu during the 1977 elections. But he came last in the elections (http://www.empoweringindia.org/new/constituency.aspx?eid=581&cid=158) and was defeated.
Ayyakannu’s ouster from RSS due to his protest with ulterior motive:
The method of his protests are inspired by the RSS. Ayyakannu used the protests as a means of blackmailing governments rather than solving problems. Hence discontent grew within the Farmer’s wing of RSS (Bharatiya Kisan Sangh – Tamilnadu Chapter). He fought for rich landlords and succeeded in arm-twisting the then Jayalalitha Government at Tamilnadu in waiving off loans of these rich landlords. Tamilnadu State previously agreed to waive off loans of poor farmers by fixing a ceiling on land ownership. But Ayyakannu was demanding that the loan should be waived off irrespective of land ceiling. Genuine leaders of Bharatiya Kisan Sangh discovered that if Land ceiling is not limited, Ayyakannu himself would be a huge beneficiary of this waiver.
It was widely discussed that Ayyakannu had conducted series of private conversations with various rich landlords and industrialists at Tamilnadu. The motive of such discussions were not revealed. Bharatiya Kisan Sangh’s Tamilnadu Unit alleged that Ayyakannu could be “charging” the rich landlords for his “loan waiver services” to them. The relationship between Bharatiya Kisan Sangh and Ayyakannu became sore as a result. Bharatiya Kisan Sangh did not publicize the events to the media at that time because Ayyakannu had been a secretary and negative news on him may affect the Sangh. RSS affiliated Bharatiya Kisan Sangh eventually snapped ties with him.
In 2014, BJP formed government in the centre with Narendra Modi at the helm. Ayyakannu started “National Agriculturist Association” and became the Founder / President of that organization. Ever since he formed his own organization, several farmers from other states joined the organization. Most of the members have no idea about his association with RSS or Subramanian Swamy’s Janata Party. Also, members of this organization belonging to Haryana and Punjab visited Delhi on his behest and protested along with him. This is done to create a perception among Tamilnadu people that the farmer protest has support of other states.
Whom will this farmer protest benefit ?
This farmer protest will not benefit the poor farmers in any way. This farmer protest will be of huge benefit to those repeat offenders, who own large lands and deliberately default on loans. Most of the poor farmers borrow money from Private loan sharks at very high interest rates. Few of them approach NABARD for loans. The borrowings from Private agencies will not fall under the purview of Government waive off. NABARD will not press hard for recovering the money from poor farmers.
The ultra rich farmers and the rich land owners usually borrow from banks. The reason is that Banks usually provide higher loan amount than private agencies or NABARD. So any loan waiver will only benefit the rich and ultra rich farmers. It will definitely benefit the Middle class farmers. But Middle class farmers can afford to pay the interest on loans. In any waive off, the poorer sections rarely gets the benefit.
In the previous farmer protest led by P Ayyakannu at Tamilnadu, similar coercive tactics were used. Rats were bitten, semi-naked farmers rolled on the roads, protesters ate food on the roads and other such tactics were employed. The State government yielded to the protest. So Ayyakannu is keen on applying the same pressure tactics against the central government in an attempt to get the ₹40,000 crore grant to Sasikala led AIADMK Government. It is to be noted that several Tamilnadu politicians are farmland owners who had borrowed from Banks.
Sasikala’s AIADMK Government is judged by people of Tamilnadu to be corrupt and inefficient. They have not given any account on the spending of recent central grant of ₹2000 crore. And if ₹40,000 crores are given, it would be a huge blow on the people of Tamilnadu as this will only benefit the politicians and the rich landlords of Tamilnadu.
Cauvery Water Board:
The other demands such as Cauvery Management Board formation are just to make the protest appear genuine. Supreme Court had directed the Centre to form Cauvery Management Board comprising of Karnataka, Tamilnadu and Puducherri. However, Karnataka filed a review petition on October 1, 2016 in the Supreme Court against the judgement. In its review petition, Karnataka said the apex court’s orders have resulted in the miscarriage of justice. Karnataka also said that the setting up of Cauvery Management Board cannot be constituted by the Centre as it is not a party in the case. (http://www.asianage.com/india/cauvery-dispute-karnataka-files-review-petition-supreme-court-891) . When the case is in court, Centre cannot step in and bypass the court’s review of the petition.
Ayyakannu, being a lawyer, should know this fact very well. He is deliberately misleading the people in order to make his protest appear genuine.
Also, even if judgement arrives, the Court has not set a deadline for formation of Cauvery Management Board. Court has not specified how exactly will Cauvery Water Management Board solve the issue. Given the fact that Karnataka has only 20% water in its reservoirs (with many running dry), we see Interlinking of Rivers as the only solution to the problem. Interlinking of Rivers will take several years to complete as the project is complex in nature.
Banning of Fertilizer is Impractical. Modi implemented the solution already:
Banning of fertilizer will adversely affect the net agriculture output of India. Instead the usage has to be reduced.
Modi announced during the end of 2016 that it is compulsory for fertilizers to be coated with Neem derivatives. Neem is hailed in Ayurveda as a significant fungicide. Due to this move by Modi government, the sale of fertilizer has declined (http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-fertiliser-sales-foodgrain-output-narendra-modi-neem-urea-4581174/).
Ayyakannu – being a literate and a lawyer – would very well be aware of these schemes. Nevertheless, he is including it in his demand just because people of Tamilnadu may not be aware of this and hence he could gain some traction.
PM Fasal Bima Yojana – the solution to this problem:
On 13 January 2016, Narendra Modi launched a fantastic Crop Insurance scheme by the name Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana. This scheme is the answer for ending farmer suicides. It provides compensation for farmers in case of flood, drought, crop failure, market fluctuations and others. Farmers can directly claim insurance just in case there is a crop failure for these reasons.
While many other States made use of it (especially Andhra, Uttarkhand, Uttar Pradesh), Tamilnadu has virtually ignored that scheme. The enrollment in the scheme is pathetically low in Tamilnadu.
This insurance scheme is a drastic improvement on Vajpayee’s NAI Scheme. The premium amount is very less (as low as 1.5% for certain crops) and there is no cap on the amount insured. Also this new scheme covers individual farm lands and not on district level as it was before. Hence an individual farmer can claim insurance. This is a scheme which can prevent the need for Loan waivers.
Drought in Karnataka vs Tamilnadu – A comparison:
Just like Tamilnadu, Karnataka is facing a similar drought. There are some agricultural activity in southern and south western Karantaka. However the central, eastern and northern regions of Karnataka are in severe drought. In Tamilnadu, except for the Kaveri delta region and parts of Tirunelveli, other areas are facing drought conditions.
Karnataka’s total demand is ₹4,000 crores where are Tamilnadu demands ₹40,000 crores (10x more). Let’s analyze certain basic parameters of Karnataka and Tamilnadu.
- Karnataka has 1,23,100 Square Kilometers (1,23,10,000 hectares) of Agricultural Land of which about 73,860 Square Kilometers is said to be in drought. (http://www.isec.ac.in/Agri%20Profile-Karnataka.pdf). Agriculture land is 60% of total land area in Karnataka.
- Tamilnadu has 52,439 Square Kilometers (52,43,839 hectares) of Agricultural Land of which about about 34,330 Square Kilometers are said to be in drought (http://www.tn.gov.in/crop/LandusePattern.htm). Agriculture land is 40% of total land area in Tamilnadu. Tamilnadu is more industrialized than Karnataka and is the state with second highest GDP in India. As a result the area of agriculture is lesser.
Karnataka has demanded ₹4,000 crores as drought relief. But Sasikala led AIADMK Government in Tamilnadu is demanding an astronomical ₹40,000 crores, despite lesser area under drought than Karnataka. On the surface, it is understood that Ayyakannu is politically linked to Sasikala group. He seems to be hell bent in arm-twisting the Centre to pay up ₹40,000 crores to Sasikala led AIADMK Government at Tamilnadu.
When we explained all this to the protesters and questioned their stance, they maintained silence.
The meeting with Union Ministers:
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley met the protesters about three weeks back. Union Agriculture Minister also met them in a different appointment. With both these ministers, the main demand has been the grant of ₹4,00,00,00,00,000 (₹40,000 crores) to Sasikala led AIADMK Government of Tamilnadu. The ministers explained that the grant of over ₹2,000 crores are to be provided to Tamilnadu. But the protesters were reiterated their demand for ₹40,000 crores.
The intent behind the farmer protest seemed clear to the union ministers. They have not met them after this. Tamilnadu MP Pon Radhakrishnan had also posed the same questions in Tamil language. But the protesters have not responded convincingly. He posted a live video on Facebook of his question. It is seen from that video that the protesters avoided that question. You can see that live video here : https://www.facebook.com/PonnaarrBJP/posts/1282999761783167.
It is understood now that even after receiving ₹2,000 crores, the State Government has not provided an account of the spend. But the protesters had not questioned the State on this.
Modi had not met them and should NOT meet them:
The protesters now want to meet the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Narendra Modi had brought about so many schemes for the welfare of farmers all over India. However, because this farmer protest focuses on the grant of ₹40,000 crores, PM Modi realizes that this protest is politically motivated. He has not met them and will not meet them too. He should not rather. Meeting them will set a wrong precedence and hence Modi must avoid meeting them.
Different tactics for seeking attention were employed in this Farmer protest. The moment RK Nagar by-election was called off, dramatic acts of running nude on Delhi roads were enacted by the protesters.
Modi had already implemented Fasal Bima Yojana (Crop Insurance) Scheme which hugely benefits poor farmers. And Modi had already initiated action on River Interlinking scheme. So the only demand left out is the grant of ₹40,000 crores.
This is a political protest and not a Farmer Protest. The word “Farmer” sells at Tamilnadu and you may find that the word “farmer” will henceforth be liberally utilized in all instigated protests originating from Tamilnadu. Even if Modi meets them – the grant of ₹40,000 crores will be the demand and Modi will not agree on this. So the protest will continue even after that. This being the case, Modi should refrain from meeting them.
Why Delhi ? Why not protest at Tamilnadu?
Insurgencies and prolonged uncontrolled protests are a valid reason to dissolve the State Government according to Article 356 of Constitution. (http://lawmin.nic.in/ncrwc/finalreport/v2b2-5.htm). In this case Separatist elements and Jihadist elements – through a set of Facebook pages and Twitter accounts – are fueling the anger and are diverting that anger against India and the Central Government. They have been successful to an extent. Even well educated crowd is somewhat convinced that Central Government is at fault – though Agriculture is a State subject !
We now realize that this Farmer Protest is political. If Ayyakannu and his team protest at Tamilnadu, it can quickly escalate and he could actually find people joining the protest in large numbers. Sasikala’s ADMK Government fears that the Centre would use this as a reason for dissolving her Government. This is the reason Ayyakannu is directed by her to protest at Delhi.
Whenever a set of people protest in Tamilnadu, they are promptly beaten up and locked up by the State Police. The State Government is keen on diffusing protests in the budding stage itself owing to the fear of dissolution of Government. Whereas at Delhi, Central government does not stifle the protesters unless they cross the limits.
People of Tamilnadu do not realize that the State police are responsible for stifling protests in the State premises. They accuse the centre on that too. Hence Tamilnadu Government are a lot relieved. As of now, Tamilnadu Government has powers without any responsibility.
Opposition Parties, Minority Organizations and Separatists:
AAP (Tamilnadu Unit) funds a few Facebook pages in their ₹520 Crore (Per Year) Media management budget. These pages routinely circulate memes targeting the central government. Many of these pages have good looking girls in their cover image to attract the youth (according to AAP IT Cell). Pages like “Arasiyal Unmaigal”, “Nakkal Mannan Koundamani”, “Ammavasai – Nagaraja Cholan”, “Tamizhan Memes” and a few other pages sympathize and promote AAP through their posts directly and indirectly. Few of these pages are run by Minorities. Out of this, few pages – especially “Nakkal Mannan Koundamani” – creates fictional memes by writing statements on their own and attributing it to a BJP leader. If inquired, it will be revealed that the BJP leader had not made such statements at all.
Minority run pages like “TNM Media” (Tamilnadu Muslim Media) hate the BJP government owing to the fact that BJP does not appease minorities. TNM Media has a history of putting memes against BJP in general and Modi in particular. These minority run pages uses Tamil emotions to further their religious agenda. There has been prayers held in Churches to “dismantle” Modi Government.
Pages like “Chennai Memes” are promoting the protests by mere sensationalizing – in order to attain their personal target of two million memberships. This page has an associated website and through that website they earn money with Advertising. A negative meme actually boosts their revenue. In their quest to earn money, they deliberately twist any welfare announcement and sensationalize it against the Central Government. The page “Chennai Pasanga Da” posts memes against the Centre meaninglessly (at times), just to prove that they are neutral and are not connected to any political party.
Pages like “Tamil Desiyam”, “Memes Tamizha” and other such pages promote Separatist sentiments. It is not uncommon for these separatist pages to be supportive of Seeman and oppose BJP. News channels like NS7 (a Bulgarian (Europe) News Media house) are trying to get some decent viewership numbers and hence will sensationalize news against the central government.
These Facebook pages are responsible the chaos and misinformation. And in this Farmer Protest, they are virtually overdoing it. What’s more surprising is that people of Tamilnadu tend to blindly believe in the memes circulated by these pages – without caring to dig the truth.
The Religious Fundamentalist and Separatist Connection
The religious fundamentalist elements (jihadi sympathizers) and pro-separatist elements (who want India to be disintegrated) play around with people’s emotions in every recent protest at Tamilnadu. If you could remember, Jalikattu protests were hijacked since day two
by pro-Jihadi and pro-Separatist elements. There were references to Jihad. There are pictures of Osama Bin Laden stuck on a Two Wheeler. India Flag was torn and burnt. Additionally, there has been pamphlets that were distributed that called for physical abuse on Narendra Modi. The minority organization – Tamilnadu Tawheed Jamaat (TNTJ) had not really fought for Jalikattu, but attended the protest to divert public anger against BJP in general and Narendra Modi in particular.
The moment pictures were circulated on people conducting “Namaz”, we had an inkling that the protests were being hijacked. We cannot say Jihadi sympathizers instigate the protests. But they, for sure, try to hijack the narratives and divert the public anger against the Central Government. They are keen on spreading hatred against the BJP and do not care much for Tamil causes. Pro-Separatist elements are bent upon on keeping people in an agitated state all the time – there by clouding the ability of people to think. The people then become victims of hysterical brainwashing, given their deprived ability to reason owing to their agitated emotional outburst. This is a sample from a Facebook post where the second comment has a reference to “Jihad” – this post is dated January 20th, 2017.
In every recent protest, this has become a pattern. This same set of crowd (pro-jihadi and pro-separatist) play around with the heightened emotions of people and divert those emotions against the central government – to fulfill their religious / political agenda. There by real issues remain unaddressed.
Who drives this Farmer Protest ?
RSS continued its association with Ayyakannu until Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister. Though the RSS is overall supportive of Prime Minister, there are factions belonging to “Advani Camp” that are not happy with Modi ignoring senior leaders like Advani and Joshi. At Goa, this faction of RSS formed a new party that ate into significant number of BJP votes. Ayyakannu had a strong association with the RSS as the state secretary of Farmers Wing of RSS (Tamilnadu Chapter). Only after Modi became the Prime Minister, Ayyakannu was removed from the RSS (Tamilnadu Chapter). We speculate that Ayyakannu may be having the support of “Advani faction” of RSS (Tamilnadu Chapter). Ever since his removal, he has been directing Farmer Protests against the Central Government and not the State Government – that creates a slight suspicion.
Subramanian Swamy has been subtly coercing the Central Government into making him the Finance Minister. The rift between Jaitley and Swamy is well known. Swamy had toppled Vajpayee government in 1999 because he was not made Finance Minister. However, his silent demand is not yet fulfilled. Modi is a strongman and he had won with absolute majority. Toppling this government is impossible. Tamil Nadu has given the NDA just 1 MP out of 336 then had won. Electorally, Tamilnadu cannot topple the Government and Swamy knows it too. Intentionally or unintentionally, he tried to complicate Jalikattu protests by branding a section of Tamils (pro DMK) as “Porukkis” (Rogues). Facebook Pages and Tamil news media were quick to create negative portrayal against Swamy and the BJP, despite the party disassociating itself from Swamy’s comment and even condemning Swamy’s comments. The negative campaign on BJP indirectly helped Sasikala’s AIADMK. Subramanian Swamy’s endorsement to Sasikala is no secret. While he may not plot against the central government, he seems to be keen on Sasikala gaining support in Tamilnadu. Swamy used to be vocal on every Tamil issue. However, the silence of Swamy on this farmer protest is deafening. It is also a fact that Ayyakannu was once an active member of Swamy’s Janata Party. Swamy’s support to Sasikala is a cause of concern and given that this agitation will benefit her, we couldn’t help speculate on this. However, this is just a speculation and not a suspicion as such.
We are extremely suspicious at the possibility that Sasikala is keen on getting the ₹40,000 crores grant from Central Government. Because the Farmer protests are entirely circled around this particular demand, it raises lot of suspicion. Though we strongly feel there is a close link between Ayyakannu and Sasikala’s AIADMK leaders, we could not find any tangible evidence of this link. We are trying to collect some evidences here so that we could present it before people. The fact that the protest are not happening in Tamilnadu but at New Delhi – almost confirms our suspicion that the farmer protest is purely political in nature.
Now that this information is out in public domain, it may not surprise us if Ayyakannu issues a mild statement against the State Government – just to cover up.
By diverting the public anger against Narendra Modi and the BJP, political leaders from Tamilnadu are in a safe haven. Nobody knows what happened to the ₹2,000 crore grant from the Centre that was released few weeks back. People in Tamilnadu are busy blaming the central leadership. Meanwhile, Tamilnadu politicians may be busy counting the money – without anyone noticing that.