Kisan andolan – Present situation and the way forward

Sixth meeting organized by Mazdoor Ekta Committee

“The mood among the kisans is one of great optimism…” said Baldev Singh Sirsa, of the Lok Bhalai Insaf Welfare Society. The Samyukta Kisan Morcha will carry forward the struggle for MSP for all crops and for the other demands, till they are realised, he said. Shri Baldev Singh Sirsa was the main speaker at the sixth meeting organised by the Mazdoor Ekta Committee (MEC) on the theme ‘Kisan andolan: Present situation and the way forward’. The Lok Bhalai Insaf Welfare Society is one of the members of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), consisting of over 500 kisan organisations, which is leading the all-India struggle of kisans.

The meeting, held on January 25, 2022, was conducted by Birju Nayak.  A few days earlier, on January 15, an important meeting of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) took place. At this meeting, the member organisations discussed the situation facing the kisan andolan in the month since the suspension of the protest at the borders of Delhi. At the end of this meeting, the SKM pointed out that the Central government had failed to honour most of its promises to the kisans. In these conditions, plans were announced for taking the kisan andolan forward. Baldev Singh Sirsa spoke in detail of these plans, the prevalent militant mood among the kisans and their determination to carry on the struggle till their demands are met.

Baldev Singh Sirsa began by explaining that the mood among the kisans was one of great optimism. This is despite the fact that when some of the kisan organisations in Punjab formed their own political party, there was a fear among some people that this would damage the Morcha.

The meeting of the SKM at Singhu border on January 15 took stock of the fact that though the three anti-kisan laws had been withdrawn and the Electricity Amendment Bill had been withheld, other demands of the kisans have not been met. The government had given them a written assurance on these. These included the demand that the government set up a committee to decide on MSPs for all crops, the demand for withdrawal of all legal cases against the agitating kisans, the demand for compensation for the kisans who had lost their lives during the year-long agitation and the demand for resignation of Union minister Ajay Mishra Teni, whose son is accused of mowing down the agitating kisans under his vehicle, in Lakhimpur Kheri in October last year.

In the light of this, the SKM announced that January 31 will be observed as Vishwasghaat diwas (day of betrayal) by kisans all over the country. At all district headquarters and sub-divisional offices, kisans will be carrying out protest actions, including burning effigies of the Prime Minister. The SKM has also issued an ultimatum to the central government that if no steps are taken towards implementation of their demands by February 1, 2022, then they would launch ‘Mission UP’, wherein the kisans would actively campaign to defeat the BJP in the upcoming UP state assembly elections.

The SKM had discussed how to continue the protest demanding resignation of Ajay Teni, for withdrawal of cases against the agitating kisans of Lakhimpur Kheri and compensation for the families of those killed in Lakhimpur Kheri. Rakesh Tikait, the leader of the Bharatiya Kisan Union, Uttar Pradesh, has volunteered to organise a permanent protest morcha in Lakhimpur Kheri, including the UP kisan organisations, families of the affected kisans as well as kisan organisations all over the country. It has also been decided that each kisan organisation in the country would send ten members, every ten days by rotation, to participate in the protest morcha in Lakhimpur Kheri.

Baldev Singh further explained that the SKM had decided right from the beginning of the agitation, to be a non-political organisation, which would not advocate support for any particular political party. 22 kisan organisations, hitherto part of the SKM, who have announced the decision to form a political party to contest the state elections in Punjab, are being considered as having violated this decision. Hence it was decided at the January 15 meeting that these organisations will be suspended for 4 months and will not address any public platform in the name of SKM. This decision will be reviewed at a meeting of SKM after 4 months, he said.

The SKM has also announced its support for the all-India workers’ strike action on February 23-24, Sirsa added. As a mark of mazdoor-kisan unity, SKM has given a call for Bharat Bandh to be observed by kisan organisations all over the country on these days.

Baldev Singh Sirsa concluded his presentation on an optimistic note. The kisans and all the people of Punjab, as well as kisan organisations all over the country have placed their faith in the SKM. Many of the kisan organisations in Punjab which left us are already coming back.  More and more kisan organisations from various regions of the country are joining us. He assured the people of the country that the kisans of Punjab, who had risen up in the struggle to repeal the three anti kisan laws, would steadfastly continue the struggle until all the demands of the kisan andolan are fulfilled.

Speaking on behalf of Mazdoor Ekta Committee, Santosh Kumar highlighted the importance of maintaining the unity of the kisan andolan. He emphasised that for the workers and kisans to be masters of our own destiny, we need to have political power in our hands, to take all decisions that affect our lives. We can then reorient the economy to fulfil the needs of all, not the greed of the handful of monopoly capitalists for maximum profits.

Activists from different parts of the country, as well as from abroad contributed enthusiastically to the discussion on how to take the struggle forward.

An important point that one of the participants raised was of the domination of the biggest international agricultural trading monopoles in multinational trade agreements and how this has led to ruination of farmers in many countries. India becoming a member of the GATT and of the WTO in 1995 have had disastrous consequences for many sections of the kisans in our country. The importance of strengthening mazdoor-kisan unity was also emphasised by many of the participants.

At the end of the discussion, Baldev Singh Sirsa thanked MEC and all the participants for their support to the kisan andolan. The increasing consciousness about who is the common enemy of the workers and kisans, the growing fraternity among workers and kisans, that the kisan andolan has given rise to, must be taken forward and strengthened, he emphasised. The interests of crores of small producers, shopkeepers, transporters, etc. are linked with the interests of the workers and kisans. Women have been the backbone of the kisan andolan, they constitute half the society, so women must be encouraged to play an active role in the struggle, he said.

The central government tried its best to discredit the kisan andolan by labelling the kisans as “khalistanis” and “terrorists”. But the growing support for the kisan andolan, as seen in this meeting too, shows that the government’s efforts have failed. The message of the kisan andolan has to be taken far and wide among the people, he said.

Baldev Singh Sirsa emphasised the importance of keeping the SKM united and constantly expanding and strengthening it, to provide a unified leadership to the kisan andolan and a clear direction for the way ahead. He expressed his desire to have many more such meetings, on-line as well as in-person, to further strengthen the unity and mutual understanding among all organisations fighting for the interests of the people.

Birju Nayak concluded the meeting emphasising the necessity to strengthen the unity of workers and peasants around a common program in order to defeat the attacks of the ruling class.

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