Kisan andolan – Present situation and the way forward

Third meeting organized by Mazdoor Ekta Committee

More than a year after kisans in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and other parts of India began their agitation against the three anti-kisan laws passed by the central government, and nearly 11 months after the kisans began their protests at the borders of the capital, the central government continues to arrogantly reject this entirely just demand of crores of our kisans, who toil to feed our people. However, the kisans are united and determined to take the struggle forward, to all parts of the country. Support for the kisan andolan by workers, women, youth and all sections of the toiling people is growing. On the other hand, the Indian state has been organising vicious attacks and provocations on the kisans, to discredit the movement, to divide the kisans and break their resolve.

On October 16, Mazdoor Ekta Committee (MEC) organized the third meeting of the series, on the theme ‘Kisan andolan: Present situation and the way forward’. The meeting was conducted online.

The main speaker at the meeting was Sardar Sarwan Singh Pandher, President of Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee, Punjab. The participants in the meeting were from all parts of the country. A significant feature of the meeting was the participation of representatives of organisations fighting for the rights of Indians abroad, in Canada and Britain, who are at the same time actively mobilising support for the kisan andolan in their respective countries. Leaders of public sector unions involved in the struggle against privatisation, workers of various sectors, activists of kisan organisations, women’s organisations and organisations fighting for empowerment of people, youth and students enthusiastically participated in the meeting and enriched the discussion with their questions and interventions.

The meeting was conducted by Birju Nayak on behalf of MEC. He welcomed the main speaker, Sardar Sarwan Singh Pandher, President of Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee, Punjab, and all the participants. He then announced the names of the representatives of other organisations who had been invited to give their views on the way forward for the kisan andolan.

Birju Nayak began by giving a brief introduction of the organisation, Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee, Punjab. The organisation has its roots in the struggles of kisans in Punjab in the 1990s and 2000s. Starting from the village Piddhi in Tarn Taran in Punjab, where the kisans fought and won their struggle for higher remuneration for sale of their paddy crop, the organisation worked extensively through the years to mobilise the kisans and agricultural workers, in defence of their rights. It had to face severe state repression many times, but continued undaunted. The organisation now has an active presence in Tarn Taran, Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Firozepur, Fazilka, Moga and several other districts of Punjab. It has been militantly participating in the ongoing kisan andolan since the beginning of the struggle. He then invited Shri Pandher to address the meeting.

Sarwan Singh Pandher began his presentation by pointing out that the prospects for the kisan andolan at this time are very bright. Support for the andolan is growing from all parts of the country and all sections of our people. The attempts of the state to malign the struggle, to divide the kisans and attack them, including the most recent murderous attack in Lakhimpur Kheri, are nothing but a frenzied and desperate response of the rulers, to this growing support for the andolan.

The kisan andolan, he said, has united not only all kisans but also the workers of the villages and towns, the women and youth and all sections of the oppressed people, across political affiliations, against this tyrannical rule of the big corporate houses. It is a source of inspiration to all those who are opposed to the present system. Today, the Modi government is being severely criticised by people. Its arrogant position in refusing to revoke the anti-kisan laws is thoroughly discredited. The struggle, he emphasised, is not against any particular political party or government, but against the big monopoly capitalists and their powerful international backers such as the World Bank, the IMF and other global imperialist agencies.

Shri Pandher pointed out that the majority of kisans and youth participating in the agitation did not belong to any of the organisations leading the agitation. In the north, especially in Punjab, Haryana and Western UP, masses of people were impatiently demanding the escalation of the agitation. The situation was different in other regions of the country. The uneven development of the kisan andolan in different regions of the country was an important challenges to be overcome. He exhorted kisan union leaders to go to MP, Maharastra, etc., and mobilise support for the andolan amongst broad masses of people.

Shri Pandher called on all organisations of the kisans and other oppressed sections, to come together on one platform, on the basis of equality and mutual respect, to openly discuss and debate on all issues facing the people of our country and work towards a common line of action, to give a fitting reply to the arrogance and tyranny of the rulers. He emphasised the importance of organising the youth as a militant force which can carry the struggle forward. It is the persistence of the kisan andolan that has forced the government to hold back on the Act penalising kisans in the name of pollution control and the Electricity Amendment Act 2021. We remain steadfast in opposing these, and in our demand that the three anti kisan laws should be revoked, and that there must be a legally guaranteed minimum support price for all crops all over the country.

Santosh Kumar of MEC pointed out that our real enemy is the ruling capitalist class headed by the Tatas, Ambanis and other monopoly corporate houses. They spend crores to bring to power the government that can best fulfil their agenda, while fooling the people. The government of the day is nothing more that the management team of the capitalist class and it can be changed at any time, but the agenda of the monopoly capitalist corporate houses will prevail. The real alternative 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.

Shri Amarjeet Singh, one of the founder members of the East India Defence Committee (EIDC) and Desh Bhagat Sports & Cultural Society, Canada, was the next speaker. He has contested elections in Canada five times, as a candidate of the Communist Party in Canada. Welcoming him to the meeting, Birju Nayak pointed out that Amarjeet Singh is a great grandson of Ghadari Baba Naranjan Singh Ludha Singh Pandori and hails from a family that has kept the legacy of the ghadaris alive. Shri Amarjeet Singh described the struggle against state-organized racist attacks on Indians in Canada in the 1970s, which led to the founding of the EIDC in 1973. The EIDC mobilised thousands of men and women of the Indian community to come forward in the struggle against the state-organised racist attacks, with the slogan “Self Defence is the only way!” He explained that today they are in the forefront of organizing the Indian community in Canada in support of the kisan agitation and the struggle of the workers and oppressed in India against the existing unjust system.

Shri Shailendra Dubey, Chairman, All India Power Engineers Federation (AIPEF) was the next speaker. He hailed the kisan andolan as a historic milestone and expressed his full support for it. The kisan andolan, he said, has forced the government to put on hold the passage of the Electricity Amendment Act 2021, which the power engineers and electricity workers are vigorously opposing. Describing the struggle against privatisation of the electricity and power sector, he said that our common enemy are the private monopoly corporate houses, whom the government serves loyally. Thanking MEC for organising the meeting, he said that the worker-kisan unity achieved by the kisan andolan is the force that can take the struggle forward.

Medhaj from Lok Raj Sangathan (LRS) described the kisan protests at the borders of Delhi as the model of the new society we aspire for, in which there is no discrimination on the basis of caste, gender, religion or language, where no one goes hungry or feels insecure. He called on the youth to come forward in the struggle for a new society in which people would be the decision makers and the economy would be re-oriented to serve the growing needs of the people, not the greed of the handful of monopoly capitalist exploiters.

Inder Singh, another founder member of EIDC and Desh Bhagat Sports & Cultural Society, addressed the meeting next. The rulers can get away with imposing laws that are blatantly unpopular and anti kisan and anti-worker, he said, because people do not have decision making power in the existing system.

Shri Govindswamy Thirunavukarasu, kisan leader from Tamilnadu, said that the demands of the kisans are the demands of all our people and the kisan andolan is inspiring us all to fight for our rights.

Girish Bhave, joint secretary of Kamgar Ekta Committee (KEC) shared the optimism of Sarwan Singh Pandher, that the prospects of victory of the kisans and workers are bright. The rulers have no solution to our problems. He upheld the need for guaranteed procurement of all agricultural produce by the state at remunerative prices, ensuring supply of all agricultural inputs by the state at affordable prices, together with a public distribution system under the control of people’s organisations, which would provide for food and all other essential requirements of workers in the cities and villages.

Sheena of Purogami Mahila Sangathan (PMS) spoke of the militant participation of women in the kisan andolan and the solidarity of various sections of workers with the fighting kisans.

Hanuman Prasad Sharma, Vice President of LRS, gave vivid examples to show that the government is the manager of the ruling class and is bound to carry out the agenda that has already been worked out by the big monopoly capitalists. He also spoke of state terrorism and of “divide and rule” being the preferred method of rule of the exploiters, in order to weaken and crush our struggle.

Umesh Mishra said that the kisan andolan was an example of how people have to organise to fight for the new society.

Lata of Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) gave the example of the recent Bharat bandh on September 27, which showed that kisans, workers, women and youth are all part of the struggle to end exploitation.

Dalvinder Atwal, spokesperson of the Indian Workers’ Association (Great Britain), expressed his wholehearted support for the kisan andolan. PM Modi and his government are implementing the agenda that has been decided by the agencies of imperialism such as the IMF and World Bank in collaboration with the biggest Indian and foreign monopoly capitalist houses, he explained. The times are calling for a new system in which people will set the agenda, he said.

After the others had spoken, Birju Nayak requested Sarwan Singh Pandher to address some of the issues that various speakers had raised in their presentations.  Shri Pandher reiterated that the kisan andolan has widened the scope of its demands. In addition to demanding that the three anti kisan laws should be repealed and MSP should be legally guaranteed for all crops, the kisans are also demanding that the Electricity Amendment Bill 2021 and the four labour codes should be scrapped. The kisan andolan is the foundation for kisan-worker unity and we have to win the confidence of all our people, he concluded.

Summing up the views expressed by the participants, Birju Nayak concluded the proceedings, expressing his conviction, shared by many in the meeting, that through our united and resolute struggle we will surely achieve worker-kisan raj, which will be the basis for ensuring sukh and suraksha for all.

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