On May 23, the streets of Central Delhi resounded with slogans “Stop the growing attacks on our livelihood and rights!”, “Long live unity of workers, peasants, women and youth!”, “Stop looting the working people!”, “Stop filling the pockets of the big capitalists!”, “Stop selling out our country and our natural resources!”, “We will not tolerate the growing attacks on women!”, “Government should fulfill its duty of providing security to women!”, “Down with communal violence and attacks on the basis of caste!”, “We want jobs, education, health!”, and many others.
Thousands of people, young and old, marched from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar, with the banner of “Jan Ekta, Jan Adhikar Andolan”. They held in their hands placards and banners with slogans demanding an end to contract labour, equal wages for women workers, implementation of labour laws to defend the rights of workers, loan waiver and higher procurement prices for peasants, security for women, punishment for those guilty of spreading communal and caste hatred, a reversal of the increasing trend of privatization of education, etc.
The Jan Ekta, Jan Adhikar Andolan is being organized to highlight the growing attacks on the livelihood and rights of all sections of the working people, workers, peasants, women and youth, oppressed castes and nationalities. Trade unions and workers’ organisations, peasants’ organisations, women’s organisations, student and youth organisations as well as many other mass organisations fighting for human, democratic and national rights, tribal rights organisations, etc. have come together under this banner to raise their voice in defence of their rights. Various actions have been organized in different parts of the country and are being planned over the coming year, in the run-up to the General Elections in 2019. On May 23, as many as 6000 such actions were reported to have been organized in various regions of India.
At Jantar Mantar, a massive public rally was held. A huge banner with “4 years of NDA government: Expose and Protest” inscribed on it provided the back-drop of the stage on which leaders of all the participating organisations took their place. Youth of Sangwari Natya Manch presented two songs highlighting the demands of different sections of the oppressed people and their determination to resist the attacks on them. Speakers from the various organisations addressed the rally.
Former Lok Sabha member and General Secretary of the All India Kisan Sabha, Comrade Hannan Mollah addressed the rally as convenor. He began the proceedings by calling on all present to stand up and observe a minute’s silence in memory of all victims of state terrorism in different parts of the country. Others who addressed the rally included comrade Atul Kumar Anjaan of AITUC, comrade Satyabhan of AIUTUC, comrade Santosh Rai of AICCTU, comrade Manoj Bhattacharya of UTUC, comrade S.M.Chauhan of All India Agragami Kisan Sabha, comrade Ritu Kaushik of All India Mahila Sanskritik Manch, comrade Nathu Prasad of Dalit Shoshan Mukti Manch and comrade Sucharita of Mazdoor Ekta Committee.
Speakers unanimously denounced the past 4 years of rule of the Modi government. They elaborated on the growing attacks on workers’ rights and the pro-capitalist amendments to the labour laws, in the name of “ease of doing business”. They criticized the government for its refusal to fulfil the just demands around which peasants all over the country are uniting – the demands for guaranteed state procurement at remunerative prices, for crop insurance and loan waiver. They highlighted the increasing violence against women, including the participation of elected representatives of the state in carrying out or defending crimes against women, as seen in the recent rape crimes in Kathua and Unnao. They denounced the attack on rights of youth and students, the increasing trend towards privatization of education, through PPP model and ‘autonomy of higher educational institutions’. Speakers cautioned against the opening up of various strategic sectors for Foreign Direct Investment and the growing collaboration of our government with US imperialism. They highlighted the growing fascist trend and the increasing communal and caste violence and state terrorism. They called upon all sections of the people to unite and come forward as a massive force, to resist these all-sided attacks on our livelihood and rights.
The representative of Mazdoor Ekta Committee pointed out that each successive government, whether it comes to power with the banner of secularism or communalism, attacks the workers, peasants, women and youth with greater ferocity that the previous one. Each successive government organizes to divide the working people further along the lines of community, caste, etc. and practices even more inhuman forms of state terrorism. This is because behind the government of the day stands the ruling class—the monopoly capitalist class headed by about 150 monopoly houses. It is this ruling class that sets the agenda and decides which government will best implement this agenda. The media, completely under the control of the monopoly capitalist ruling class, provides the propaganda machine to influence the minds of the people and achieve the electoral outcome that best serves the interests of the ruling class. In a scathing indictment of the existing multiparty representative democracy, she highlighted the developments in the recent elections in Karnataka, to point out that all talk of janaadesh and janmat is a fraud – here we can only see dhan aadesh (the demands of the biggest monopoly capitalists) and dhanmat (the will of the biggest monopoly capitalists). To say that ‘people choose the government they want’ is the biggest fraud carried out on us. We can neither select the candidates, nor hold the elected representatives to account. We cannot recall the elected representatives even when they blatantly work to advance the interests of the monopoly capitalists. We cannot initiate legislation in our interests. All the major political parties serve the agenda of the same ruling class, as is evident from the manner in which their representatives switch party alliances, in return for the fruits of office. This political system and process is meant to perpetuate the rule of the monopoly capitalist class. It cannot be expected to bring about policies and legislations in the interests of the workers, peasants, women and youth. We all, who have braved 46 degree temperature today to raise our voices against this, have to take our united movement forward with the goal of establishing the rule of the workers and peasants. Only the rule of the workers and peasants can re-organise the economy to fulfil the interests of the working masses and enforce a political system and process which will ensure that we the working masses will be the decision-makers. She concluded with the rousing slogan “Hum hain iske malik, hum hain Hindostan; mazdoor kisan aurat aur jawan!”