Kisan andolan – Present situation and the way forward

Fourth meeting organized by Mazdoor Ekta Committee

The kisan andolan continues to receive the growing support of workers, women, youth and students all over the country. The struggle has now assumed national and international dimensions.

Nearly 500 kisan organisations have come together on one platform, around a common set of demands, i.e., that the 3 central anti-kisan laws enacted in 2020 be repealed, remunerative MSP be guaranteed for all agricultural crops, the Electricity Amendment Bill 2021 be withdrawn and the penalisation of kisans in the name of environmental pollution be immediately stopped. It is a struggle against the monopoly capitalist corporations and against the government which is in their service.

The struggle of the kisans, including the ongoing, historic 11 month-long protest at the borders of Delhi, has raised important questions about the nature of present-day Indian democracy and emphasised the need for thorough-going transformation of society to address the burning problems facing the toiling people of our country.

Continuing the discussion on these issues, on October 27, Mazdoor Ekta Committee (MEC) organized the fourth 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 Buta Singh Burj Gill, President, Bharatiya Kisan Union Ekta (Dakaunda). Representatives of kisan organisations of Haryana, Rajasthan, UP, Tamilnadu and other states participated in the meeting. Activists of workers’ organisations, women’s organisations, youth organisations, organisations working in defence of human, democratic and national rights, all enthusiastically attended and contributed to the discussion.

Birju Nayak conducted the meeting on behalf of MEC. He welcomed Buta Singh Burj Gill and the representatives of other organisations who had been invited to give their views on the present situation and the way forward for the kisan andolan.

The BKU Ekta (Dakaunda) was formed in Punjab in 2007, Birju explained. He narrated a brief history of the organisation, of the militant struggles it has led and waged in defence of the rights of the kisans, particularly the poorer kisans of Punjab. Many of its leaders and activists have had to face brutal state repression, including arrests and false cases foisted on them. Buta Singh Burj Gill himself had several cases against him for his active participation in the andolan.

The organisation began its work in Bhatinda and Mansa, then spread to Sangrur, Barnala, Moga, Ludhiana, Patiala, Faridkot, Ferozepur and Fatehgarh Sahib districts. Th BKU Ekta (Dakaunda) was among the earliest kisan organisations to come out in opposition to the three anti-kisan laws. It is an active constituent of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), which is leading the kisan andolan at the present time.

Birju summed up the spirit of the kisan andolan to forge ahead in the struggle against all odds, with a stirring couplet Abhi to paanv ke chhale na dekho, abhi to yaaron safar ka ibtida hai (Do not yet look at the sores on my feet, my friend; my journey has just begun”). He then called upon Buta Singh Burj Gill to address the meeting.

In his address Buta Singh Burj Gill gave several examples to show that the kisans’ demand for repeal of the three anti-kisan laws encompasses within it the demands of not only the kisans but also those of a very wide section of the workers and toiling people. It is part of the struggle against the program of privatisation and liberalisation, in the service of the big monopoly corporate houses, Indian and foreign.  The big corporate houses which have been greedily eyeing the agriculture sector in India as a source of huge profits, have got the Modi government to pass these central laws, using the Corona virus pandemic and lockdown as the pretext to suppress all opposition to them. Kisans will lose their land to the big corporates, workers in the state run mandis and those producing vital agricultural inputs will lose their livelihood when these functions are monopolised by the corporate houses. When kisans are denied state procurement at remunerative prices, ration shops will be forced to close down and the workers in the cities will have to pay much higher prices for food in the market.

The Electricity Amendment Bill 2021, which the kisans are demanding should be withdrawn, will not only greatly increase the cost of agricultural inputs by removing all state subsidies, but will also lead to increase in rates of electricity for the workers in the cities, explained Buta Singh Burj Gill. He denounced the attempts of the state to discredit the kisan andolan through lying propaganda as well by organising various provocations to spread anarchy and violence, to divide the kisans and to terrorise them with brutal repression. He pointed out that much more needs to be done to spread the spirit of the kisan andolan throughout the country. He elaborated on the plans of the kisan andolan to take the struggle to different parts of the country in the coming months.

Birju thanked him and then called upon the representatives of various organisations to give their views on the subject.

Santosh Kumar of MEC pointed out that it is the capitalist class, headed by the biggest monopoly corporate houses, that is ruling the country. The government is nothing but a management team for implementing the agenda that is decided by the monopoly capitalists. This management team can be changed but the agenda of the monopoly capitalists does not change, he explained. Drawing on the experience of our people with the parliamentary system, he brought out the role of both the ruling and opposition parties, in fostering illusions about the existing system and preventing people from seeking an alternative to the rule of the monopoly capitalists. This is how less than 150 capitalist monopoly houses are setting the agenda for this country of 140 crore people and managing to rule over us.

The real alternative, said Santosh, is to fight with the perspective of taking political power in our hands, so that we the workers and kisans can set the agenda for the society, put an end to the loot of our people by the monopoly capitalist companies and guarantee secure livelihood and progress for all the working people.

Shri Govindaswamy Thirunavukarasu, of Thanmai Ulavar Iyakkam, kisan leader from Tamilnadu, elaborated on how the policies of the Indian state on agriculture since independence, including the Green Revolution, have been against the interests of kisans. The Green Revolution served the foreign and Indian monopoly capitalists who controlled the inputs to agriculture such as fertilisers, pesticides and seeds. It resulted in the destruction of the soil and ruination of kisans. The three laws, the Electricity Act, all are against kisans as well as workers. They serve foreign and Indian monopoly capitalists. Kisans in our country have never got proper remuneration for their toil. Neither have workers. The kisans’ struggle against monopoly capitalist greed is fully justified. The ruling class of our country neither cares for the well being of the kisans, nor for the well being of workers. It keeps the income of kisans low by denying them proper MSP, and it keeps the wages of workers low too. We must popularise the demand that kisans must receive proper price for their produce, and workers must receive proper wages.

Shri Balakrishnan, SKM convenor from Tamilnadu, gave a poignant description of the yatra, bearing the ashes of the kisans martyred in Lakhimpur Kheri, through many towns and villages of the state. People came out in large numbers to show their support. He expressed his hope that the movement will succeed in taking its message to all sections of the people.

Girish Bhave, Joint Secretary of Kamgar Ekta Committee (KEC) described the work of KEC in building the unity of workers in support of the kisan andolan. KEC is playing an active role in building the All India Forum against Privatisation (AIFAP), a common platform of workers’ unions from all major industries and services, in the struggle against the monopoly capitalist agenda of privatisation and liberalisation. The struggle of the kisans is against the same monopoly capitalist agenda. We workers and kisans have to set the agenda, to ensure that the needs of the people are fulfilled, rather than the greed of the monopoly capitalists, he said.

Salvinder Dhillon from Ghadar International, Great Britain, spoke of the work being done to mobilise people in Britain against the agenda of the big capitalist monopolies and in support of the kisans’ struggle in India.

Hanuman Prasad Sharma, Vice President of Lok Raj Sangathan, described the struggle of the kisans in Rajasthan, for irrigation water and for better prices for their produce. The struggle of the kisans and the struggle of workers against privatisation and increasing exploitation are both directed at the same enemy, he pointed out.

Prem Kumar, an activist of Socialist Kisan Sabha held up the kisan andolan as a source of inspiration for the oppressed people of our country and the whole world.  A youth activist from the kisan protest site at the Singhu border expressed his concern about how the message of the kisan andolan could be taken to people across such a vast country with such diverse languages and cultures, as ours.

Trupti of Purogami Mahila Sangathan spoke of the important role of women in the kisan andolan and in the struggle in defence of our livelihood and rights.

A young poet recited a self-composed poem expressing his anguish at the barbaric killing of kisans in Lakhimpur Khiri and vowing that the people will never forgive the oppressors for their crimes.

Buta Singh Burj Gill then addressed some of the issues raised by the participants. The demand for MSP and state guaranteed procurement is a demand that strikes at the very heart of the monopoly capitalist agenda, he explained. Kisans should get proper price for their produce and workers should get proper wages — this is our demand, he said. He expressed his firm conviction that with the kisan andolan gaining support from all corners of the country, the problem of taking the message to people in various languages will soon be resolved. He hailed the courage and determination of the large numbers of women who are coming forward to join the kisan andolan and their immense contribution to the unity of the movement. He ended with the inspiring words from a popular couplet, Haakim haarte hain, log nahin (It is the rulers who are defeated, not the people).

Birju Nayak brought the meeting to a conclusion on the optimistic note that the day is not far off, when there will be a new India in which sukh (prosperity) and suraksha (protection) will be guaranteed to all.

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