Two years since the start of protest dharna by kisans at Delhi’s borders

The 26th of November marks two years since lakhs of kisans began their dharna at Delhi’s borders.  Kisans all over the country have decided to mark this occasion of the second anniversary of their historic protest surrounding the capital of India, which began on 26 November, 2020.  Kisan unions in every state will be organising a mass protest demonstration in front of Raj Bhavan, which is the seat of the Governor of the state, who obeys the command of the Central Government.

Kisans are demanding that the Central Government must fulfil the promises it made in December 2021, on the basis of which they suspended their dharna at Delhi’s borders.  After repealing the three anti-kisan laws at that time, the Central Government had promised to address the other major demands of the Kisan Andolan, including guaranteeing procurement of all agricultural produce at Minimum Support Prices, and withdrawal of the anti-people and pro-monopoly Electricity Amendment Bill.

The fundamental reason why the protest dharna organised by kisans at Delhi’s borders was a historic event is because over 500 kisan unions from all over the country united to raise a common set of demands.  They dared to demand their right to secure livelihood, in diametric opposition to the liberalisation agenda of the bourgeoisie, headed by the Tatas, Ambanis, Birlas, Adanis and other monopoly corporate houses.

To prevent the kisans and their tractor-trolleys from crossing the Punjab-Haryana borders, the BJP-led Central Government and Haryana Government dug up the roads and erected barricades.  However, the youth from kisan families of Punjab and Haryana refused to be cowed down. They courageously marched ahead, overcoming the roadblocks in their way, determined to reach Delhi at any cost. This inspired the kisans of Uttar Pradesh, who set up a protest site at the Delhi Uttar Pradesh border at Ghazipur. Kisans from Rajasthan set up a protest site at the Rajasthan Haryana border in Shahjahanpur.

The kisans turned Delhi’s borders into the site of a massive protest camp, which lasted almost a full year.  Kisan organisations from all over the country sent their delegations to the protest sites.  Workers, women and youth expressed their solidarity with the kisans’ agitation. Villagers from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh brought truckloads of food grains, vegetables and fruits every day.

Life and work at the protest sites displayed the organising ability of workers and peasants, when they unite to take their destiny into their own hands. There were organising committees taking good care of all the needs of those camped at these sites. There were schools for the children, libraries for all and medical teams to provide emergency health services. Women visiting the protest sites reported that they had never felt so safe in any other public place under the existing rule of the bourgeoisie.

The second anniversary is an appropriate time to look back and sum up the lessons of the valuable experience that has been gained.  All organisers of workers and peasants must do so, with the aim of preparing for the class struggle ahead.  Our goal is to win victory over the bourgeoisie, headed by the monopoly houses.  What are the important lessons and what is the path to victory?

Important Lessons

One important lesson is that the ruling class will always incite sectarian fights, on the basis of religion, caste or electoral party rivalry; and that it is both necessary and possible for the fighting forces to defeat this divisive political and ideological offensive.

Right from December 2020, the BJP and the Central Government under its command tried to raise the spectre of “Sikh terrorism” in order to discredit and split the kisan andolan.  The kisans refused to be diverted from the main demands around which they had united.  Far from getting discredited, the kisan agitation won widespread support, both from within India and among Indians abroad.  The Central Government responded by organising a diabolical plot on 26 January, Republic Day 2021.  The tractors of protesting kisans were deliberately guided by the Delhi Police to reach the area surrounding Lal Qila (Red Fort).  Violence broke out and the media spread visual images of Sikh protestors holding their religious flag.

In spite of the lies, slanders, communal prejudice and hatred that were spread through social media, the kisans continued their dharna at the border sites for 12 months.

Another important lesson is that the agenda of the ruling class has not changed, despite the decision to repeal the three anti-kisan laws in December 2021. The program of liberalisation of agricultural trade, aimed at opening it up for domination and plunder by monopoly capitalist companies, remains very much on the agenda.

Developments over the past 11 months have shown that the Central Government has no intention to fulfil the demand of the kisans for guaranteed procurement of all agricultural products at or above the Minimum Support Price (MSP).  It has taken almost a whole year to form a Committee which is supposed to examine the matter and make some proposals, which the government may or may not implement. This confirms that there is no change in the direction and aim of government policy towards agriculture.

The Central Government has neither the interest nor the capacity to fulfil the demand for guaranteed procurement of all crops at MSP or above.  Fulfilling this demand requires a significant increase in public procurement at both central and state level.  Increasing the role of public procurement is diametrically opposed to the interests of the monopoly capitalists, Indian and foreign.  These monopoly capitalist robbers are keen to dominate and plunder Indian agriculture, even more intensively and extensively than the East India Company did two centuries ago.

The decision to repeal the three anti-kisan laws was in fact a cunning maneuver of the ruling class.  It was timed to coincide with the beginning of the campaigns of rival parties for the 2022 Legislative Assembly elections in Punjab.  The Central Government calculated that the large operators among the farmers of Punjab would be pacified by the repeal of the three laws, and that a section of kisan unions would be drawn into electoral politics, leading to splits in their ranks.

While the kisans achieved unity in action around their common immediate demands, they were not united in their political aim.  As a result, the kisan andolan was pulled in different directions.  This became evident during the Punjab state assembly elections.

On the Path Ahead

Independent of the will of any party and any individual, there are two different paths along which the kisan andolan can develop.  These two different paths are opposed to one another.  They correspond to the two major classes in contention, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.

The bourgeoisie considers the struggle of kisans as a factor to be used for developing and strengthening the parliamentary opposition to the BJP. The proletariat considers the kisans as a potential revolutionary ally in the struggle to overthrow the rule of the bourgeoisie, headed by the monopoly capitalists.

Parties of the bourgeoisie spread the illusion that it is possible for capitalism to provide secure livelihood to all kisans, if only the BJP is dislodged through the electoral process.  A political party of the proletariat tells the truth that capitalism, at its present highly monopolistic stage, will inevitably destroy the kisans and all other small property owners.

The bourgeoisie propagates the lie that there is no alternative to capitalism and nothing better than the existing system of parliamentary democracy.  It is up to us, the communists and all progressive forces, to disprove this lie.  We have to put forward the alternative and build political unity around it.

The alternative to capitalism is a socialist system, oriented to fulfil the people’s needs instead of fulfilling capitalist greed.  The alternative to parliamentary democracy is a modern proletarian democracy, in which workers and peasants participate in deciding the laws and policies.

Under workers’ and peasants’ rule, the central and state governments will take responsibility to create a public procurement system covering all food and non-food crops. By eliminating the role of private profiteers in foreign trade and wholesale domestic trade, the workers’ and peasants’ state will guarantee reliable supply of agricultural inputs at their true values.  Public agencies will purchase the major part of agricultural products, at pre-announced remunerative prices. The public procurement system will be linked to a public distribution system geared to ensure the availability of all essential consumption goods at affordable prices for all.

The crisis of agriculture will not get resolved as long as capitalists control the state machinery and use elections to get one or another of their trusted parties to form the government.  Hence, in the course of waging the struggle for their immediate demands, workers and peasants have to become a political force capable of taking India’s destiny in its hands. Workers’ and peasants’ rule will open the path for lifting agriculture and all of society out of crisis.

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