Thousands of workers and peasants from different states of the country gathered at the Ram Lila Maidan in New Delhi on April 5, at the Mazdoor-Kisan Sangharsh Rally.
The rally had been organised jointly by the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), and All India Agriculture Workers Union (AIAWU). Banners highlighting the demands of the workers and peasants, youth and women were to be seen all over the protest site.
Workers and peasants from Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Kerala, Karnataka, Assam, Tripura, Manipur, Gujarat and several other states participated in the rally. There were delegations of MNREGA workers, Anganwadi and ASHA workers, bank workers, electricity workers, BSNL workers, workers from many other public sector enterprises and services. Organisations of students, youth and women also participated.
The demands voiced at the rally included a halt to the rising prices of food and all essential items, an end to the privatisation of public sector enterprises and essential public services such as health and education, end to contract labour, a minimum wage for all workers at Rs 26,000 per month, repeal of the four anti-worker labour codes and withdrawal of the Electricity Amendment Bill 2020, a legal guarantee of Minimum Support Price (MSP) for agricultural produce, debt relief for peasants, pension for all peasants above 60 years of age, regular payment of wages to MNREGA workers, and guaranteed employment and a minimum wage for Anganwadi workers.
Speakers at the rally criticised the Central government for its anti-worker and anti-peasant policies. They pointed out that the government works solely to defend the interests of the biggest corporate houses, while attacking the rights of the workers and peasants. They re-iterated the demands of the peasants and agricultural workers. The rising costs of inputs for agriculture, together with the lack of guaranteed state procurement and minimum support price for agricultural produce, the growing indebtedness of the peasants and agricultural workers – these were some of the problems that were highlighted. Privatisation, the outright sale of public enterprises, forests, mines etc. was condemned. Concern was expressed over the growing unemployment and the increasing violence on women. Speakers denounced the repeated attempts to divide the unity of the workers and peasants by state-organised communal violence and the incarceration of political activists for raising the demands of the oppressed people.
The rally was a manifestation of the great anger seething in the hearts of the workers and peasants all over the country, against the existing system and the anti-worker, anti-peasant program of the ruling bourgeoisie.