Meeting organized by Mazdoor Ekta Committee
The continuous protest of kisans at the borders of Delhi completed nine months on 25th August. Mazdoor Ekta Committee (MEC) organized a meeting on 6th September on the theme ‘Kisan andolan: Present situation and the way forward’. The meeting was conducted online.
Hundreds of people from different parts of the country, as well as from Britain, Canada, US and other countries participated and contributed to the discussion. The meeting was notable for the participation of leaders of a number of public sector unions who are waging a valiant united struggle against privatisation.
The meeting was conducted by Birju Nayak on behalf of MEC. He introduced the main speaker, Shri Joginder Singh Ugrahan, President of Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta) Ugrahan, one of the organisations spearheading the kisan andolan at this time. He also announced the names of activists from several other organisations who would be invited to speak in support of the kisan andolan. These were Sanjeevani, Vice President, Lok Raj Sangathan; Dalvinder, Indian Workers Association Great Britain; Dr Matthew Abraham, Secretary, Kamgar Ekta Committee; Abhimanyu Dhankar, Secretary General, All India Federation of Power Diploma Engineers; Devdas Tuljapurkar, General Secretary, Maharashtra State Bank Employees Federation; Sharad Borkar, All India Defence Employees Federation ; Salvinder from the Ghadar International, Poonam from Purogami Mahila Sangathan; Gurdev from Canada; and Sucharita from Mazdoor Ekta Committee.
Birju Nayak gave a brief review of the course that the kisan andolan has taken over the past one year, particularly over the past 9 months since the kisans have been protesting at the borders of Delhi. He criticized the government for not paying heed to the kisans’ demands and for unleashing state repression on the protesting kisans, as was done in Karnal just a few days back. He then invited Shri Joginder Singh Ugrahan to deliver the main presentation.
Shri Joginder Singh Ugrahan thanked MEC for its consistent support to the kisan andolan, and for organizing this meeting in which people from different organisations as well as hundreds of concerned citizens, women and youth, were participating. The government, he pointed out, is working at the behest of the big Indian and foreign capitalist corporations. That is why it can pass laws that kisans are so vehemently opposed to, because the corporate houses want these laws to enable them to make huge profits. “Vikas” for our rulers actually means increase in profits of the corporate houses. All political parties contending for forming the government pretend they are for the people when they want the people’s votes in the elections, but once a party is in government, it works for the big corporate houses.
Shri Joginder Singh announced that the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) which is leading the andolan will be campaigning in UP, Uttarakhand, Punjab and extending the campaign, not only in the states going for elections in the coming months, but also others such as Rajasthan, Haryana, Karnataka. He said all major problems affecting the people, such as privatization and the sell-out of national assets, communal and caste violence, oppression of women, unemployment, starvation and lack of education, would be addressed. He emphasized that the objective was to bring everybody together on one platform against the ruling power. He also emphasized the need to prepare communication material in the various languages of our country, in order to take the kisan andolan to every region. He called on all the participants to put forward their ideas and suggestions on how to take the movement forward.
Following the speech of Shri Ugrahan, other invited speakers spoke in support of the Kisan andolan.
Sanjeevani Jain, Vice President of Lok Raj Sangathan (LRS) spoke of the country-wide campaign carried out by LRS in support of the kisan andolan. LRS has been steadfastly advocating that sovereignty, the supreme decision making power, should be vested in the people. The government in power cannot be allowed to take decisions in favour of the big corporate houses and against the interests of the majority of people. The kisans are entirely justified in demanding that the laws which have been passed by the central government, in violation of the kisans’ concerns, should be repealed, she said.
Representatives of Indian workers in Britain and Canada expressed their full support for the kisan andolan.
Dalvinder of the Indian Workers Association, Great Britain spoke of the ties of flesh and blood of Indian workers in Britain with the kisans in India and the common struggle against exploitation and oppression. Gurdev from Canada hailed the unity, fighting spirit and resolve of the kisans and expressed his confidence that the struggle will be crowned with success. Salvinder from the Ghadar International expressed the solidarity of the British working class with the struggle of India’s kisans.
Dr. Mathew Abraham, Secretary, Kamgar Ekta Committee hailed the courageous struggle of the kisans for more than nine months without let up. He spoke of the common struggle of workers and kisans against the attempts of the big corporate houses to gain monopoly control over agricultural land and produce as well as over all the precious assets of our people. In particular, he highlighted the coming together of more than 50 trade unions of public sector workers on a joint platform, the All India Forum against Privatisation (AIFAP), to fight unitedly to halt the privatization program of the rulers.
Representatives of Electricity and Power Engineers, Defence employees and Ordnance Factory workers, Public Sector Banks, Railways and other sectors addressed the meeting and spoke in support of the kisans’ struggle.
Abhimanyu Dhankar, Secretary General, All India Federation of Power Diploma Engineers described their struggle against the Electricity Amendment Bill 2021. He explained that the Bill is a direct attack on the kisans. The Bill seeks to remove the government subsidy for electricity provided for kisans. This will greatly increase the cost of agricultural production and drive large numbers of small and marginal kisans further into debt, he said, expressing his full support for the struggle of the kisans.
Devdas Tuljapurkar, General Secretary, Maharashtra State Bank Employees Federation, spoke of the common struggle of kisans and workers against the privatization program and the attempts of our rulers to hand over our most precious assets to the private corporate houses. He spoke of how the public sector banks are under immense pressure to write off loans worth thousands of crores of rupees of the biggest capitalist defaulters, but poor kisans who are unable to pay back loans of even just a few thousand rupees are penalized, their land and assets are seized and they are driven to suicide. The merger and privatization of public sector banks is an issue of concern, not just for the bank workers but also for the masses of people who have entrusted their hard earned savings in the hands of these banks, He spoke of the need to take our struggle widely among all sections of the people.
Sharad Borkar of the All India Defence Employees Federation (AIDEF) exposed the Monetisation Pipeline program of the government as nothing but a thinly veiled attempt to justify the criminal sell-out of crores upon crores of rupees worth of public land and assets to the biggest monopoly capitalists to enhance their profits. Even sectors of strategic importance such as defence are not being spared, he explained. Workers and kisans are brothers, our struggle is one, he said, emphasizing on the need to take the struggle widely among the people.
Poonam of Purogami Mahila Sangathan (PMS) highlighted the inspiring role of women in the kisan andolan. Women have challenged the outdated social customs and come forward in huge numbers, managing their crops and fields as well as adding to the front ranks of the andolan. The participation of women in such large numbers, side by side with men, has helped to sustain the struggle through immense hardships. With full confidence in the fighting spirit of the women, she declared that this will certainly ensure the victory of the struggle.
Women activists of BKU Ekta Ugrahan joined the meeting from different parts of Punjab. They spoke with great courage and clarity, of the importance of mobilizing women in the struggle and the strength it has given to the movement.
Sucharita of MEC pointed out that the capitalist class, headed by the monopoly houses, is the main and common enemy of workers, kisans and all the oppressed. Hence the path forward for the kisans is to build and strengthen a firm political alliance with the working class, against the monopoly houses and their anti-people agenda.
The main danger facing the struggle of the kisans at this time, she cautioned, is from those parties who are promoting the line that BJP is the main enemy. To identify BJP as the main enemy means to once again be deceived and betrayed by the false hope that replacing BJP by Congress Party or some anti-BJP coalition will advance the interests of the kisans. The alternative, she emphasized, is to strengthen the alliance of the workers and kisans, so that it can take political power in its hands, put an end to the loot of our people by the monopoly capitalist companies and all other private profiteers, and guarantee secure livelihood and progress for all the working people.
Several participants intervened to question what kind of political system we have in our country, which enables the government to blatantly ignore the demands of lakhs upon lakhs of kisans, in favour of the monopoly corporate houses and their never-ending greed for profits. They advocated a new political system and process in which the workers and kisans will be the decision-makers and the economy will be geared to fulfilling the needs of the majority, rather than the greed for super-profits of the monopoly capitalists.
At the end of the interventions, Shri Joginder Singh Ugrahan addressed many of the concerns raised by the participants. He emphasized that the Samyukta Kisan Morcha had decided to carry out a vigorous countrywide campaign to mobilise people in every state of India.
Birju Nayak concluded the proceedings with the inspiring prospect that the unity of the workers and kisans being forged today, in the course of the kisan andolan, will lead to the establishment of worker-kisan rule, which will ensure sukh (prosperity) and raksha (protection) for all.