Mazdoor Ekta Lehar interviewed the militant workers who came from all over India to participate in the rally on 23rd February, 2011, in New Delhi. Below we give some of the interviews.
Mr. Sauribhandu Kar, General Secretary, AITUC, Bhubaneshwar, Orissa
Question: Why did you come to this rally?
Answer: I came in response to the call of the Joint Action Committee of Trade Unions.
Question: Whic sectors of workers have come from Orissa to this rally?
Answer: Anganwadi workers, midday meal workers, beedi workers, ASHA workers, etc.
Question: What are the conditions of workers in your area and what are the problems they face?
Answer: Today the workers are facing a terrible situation. Along with the unorganised sector workers, the organized sector workers also have a lot of problems. Workers have to fight for every small thing which is theirs as a right. This situation is the same for all the workers all over India. What we from the unions are demanding is coming from the struggle and experience of the workers of over 20 years. In 1991, the Congress Party implemented the program of privatisation, liberalisation and globalisation which has had a disastrous effect on the livelihood of the workers and peasants.
Question: We say that the alternative to the present system is the rule of the Workers and Peasants. What is your opinion?
Answer: Yes this is our desire, to establish socialism in our country.
Mr. Naurangi Chaurasia, Railway Mazdoor, Benares, Uttar Pradesh
Question: How did you feel taking part in the rally?
Answer: I felt very good seeing lakhs of workers. I feel that we workers were brought here by our leaders to show our strength. From their speeches I feel that these leaders are bargaining with the government. They are threatening the government that if they do not give in to our demands they will change the government. So many governments have come and gone over these years but there is no change in the condition of the workers.
Question: How many railway workers have participated in this rally?
Answer: Around 25,000 railway workers have participated in this rally in my view.
Question: In Egypt the people have overthrown a despotic government. Why can’t the Indian working class do the same?
Answer: Today lakhs of workers have come here in front of the Parliament. Like in Egypt, if we decide to sit here till this government is thrown out, even if we have to go to jail for this, then this message will go all over the world that the UPA Government which came to power with the slogan of "reforms with a human face", which was supported by the Trade Unions and which has come back with the "aam aadmi" slogan, is in reality an anti worker government. If, like the people of Egypt, we had decided to not leave here till our demands are met, then we would have been able to bring about change and become the masers of our own fate. With this hope workers from all over India came here. But today's program seems to be more like a token protest, and we have to go beyond this if we want our hopes to be fulfilled.
Dr.Hemchandra Jha, Zilla Secretary, Madhubani, Bihar
Question: Which section of employees do you organize?
Answer: I organize agricultural labour. My union organizes these workers to fight against exploitation and to get their rights.
Question: In Madhubani, what problems do the agricultural workers have to face?
Answer; The district is backward industrially. Mostly the people here are linked to agriculture. It is drought stricken. NREGA is a fraud and money is being looted. We do not get employment under this scheme. The condition of the workers is not good. So they have to go to Haryana and Punjab to find work.
Question: Egyptian people have driven out their oppressive rulers. Why cannot we Indian workers do the same?
Answer: I feel that what happened in Egypt will happen here also. Here the peasant is committing suicide. We need to fight for socialism. We have to take this struggle right down to all the oppressed and develop it.
Question: We feel that the alternative to the present system is the rule of the workers and peasants. Do you agree?
Answer: I agree with you.
Ramesh Gowalkar, Bank Employee, Wardha, Maharashtra
Question: Seeing this rally, how do you feel?
Answer: Seeing the spirit of the workers who came to the rally, I am confident that the workers of India will not tolerate the attacks of the capitalists and their government and will fight against them. Workers are fighting for justice and their rights.
Question: The Central Trade Unions have united on 5 demands. What is your opinion on this?
Answer: 6 year ago, the UPA-I government came to power on the slogan of "aam aadmi". But in this period we have come to know that by "aam aadmi" they do not mean workers and peasants but Tata, Birla , Ambani and Mittal.
Now it is difficult for any Party to fool the people that in this system both rich and poor can progress together. Now workers are becoming conscious. The workers are asking the Congress Party —"Who are you working for, the rich or the poor?" They are asking the Left Front leaders." Why did you support the Congress led government for 4 years?” That the workers are conscious is proven by today’s rally, where lakhs of workers have come together, overcoming the barriers of Party and Union divisions.
Question: What is the alternative to the capitalist system?
Answer: We need the rule of workers and peasants in India.
Question: How is it possible to do this?
Answer: The way we have come together today in lakhs shows that it is easy for us to take power. We workers and peasants are much more in number than the exploiters, but we have been divided and that is why they are able easily to implement anti worker policies. We have been made to believe that the front of these parties can solve the workers’ problems. But this is a false dream. Till we do not shed these illusions and end the rule of the capitalist class by taking up the program of the working class, there is no escaping our exploitation.