The 26th of May, 2021, marks the completion of six months of the mass protests at the Delhi borders. The united front of kisan unions has decided to observe it as a Black Day. The Samyukta Kisan Morcha has called on people to wear black badges as a mark of protest against the government’s refusal to heed the voice of the kisans. Workers’ unions have extended their support to the kisans. It is an occasion to sum up the experience of the past six months, and draw appropriate lessons.
The developments over the past six months have revealed that workers and peasants, who make up the majority of the population, have no say in laws that threaten their livelihood and violate their rights. Decision-making power is concentrated in the hands of a ruling clique committed to fulfil monopoly capitalist greed. The parliament enacts laws aimed at fulfilling the greed of the Tatas, Ambanis, Adanis, Birlas and other capitalist monopoly houses, at the expense of our livelihood and rights. In sum, the existing system of parliamentary democracy is in fact a dictatorship of the capitalist class, headed by the monopoly houses.
In repeated rounds of discussion, government spokesmen have refused to repeal the new laws, despite the fact that over 500 kisan organisations have come together to demand this. Why has the Central Government been so adamant? It is because giant monopoly companies, Indian and foreign, are dead opposed to any backtracking on this issue.
Walmart and Amazon, Reliance Retail, Aditya Birla Retail, Tata’s Star India, Adani Wilmar, Big Bazaar and D-Mart have all been actively pursuing the agenda of agricultural trade liberalisation for many years now. They are eager to gain control of the massive Indian market for agricultural produce. They are eager to subordinate agricultural production and trade to their greed for maximum profits.
For 10 years, the Manmohan Singh government tried to persuade state governments to implement this agenda, with limited success. Now the majority government headed by BJP has succeeded in getting a central law enacted, which is binding on all state governments. The monopoly capitalists consider this to be a historic victory which must not be given up at any cost.
Throughout the past six months, the BJP has been carrying on the propaganda that the three laws are actually for the benefit of kisans. They have been repeating that kisans are being misled by the opposition parties, and that their movement has been infiltrated by terrorists. Congress Party has been blaming BJP for acting in the interests of corporate houses, as if it has only now discovered that liberalisation and privatisation are against the interests of peasants. Both of them are trying to deceive the kisans.
In the existing system, whichever party runs the government has to implement the agenda set by the monopoly capitalists. The party in charge has to lie to the people that everything is being done for their benefit. The party in opposition has to scream against the government, criticising it for acting against the interests of the toiling masses of people. Once it occupies the ruling benches, the party which is now critical will change its stand and implement the monopoly capitalist agenda.
When the agenda of agricultural trade liberalisation was being pursued by the UPA Government headed by Manmohan Singh, the BJP was criticising it as being anti-kisan. Now these two parties have changed places. From this it is clear that supreme power is actually wielded by the capitalist class, headed by the monopoly houses. The party in charge of the Central Government is the central management team of the ruling class. The management team can be changed through the electoral process. Parties change places but what remains unchanged is the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.
A key question that confronts the kisan andolan is the identification of the main enemy, the main target of the struggle. It is essential to recognise that the capitalist class, headed by the monopoly houses, is the main and common enemy of workers, peasants and all the oppressed. Hence the path forward for the peasants is to build and strengthen a firm political alliance with the working class, against the monopoly houses and their anti-people agenda.
The main danger facing the struggle of the peasants at his time comes from those parties who are promoting the line that BJP is the main enemy. To identify BJP as the main enemy implies that the path forward is to tail behind the bourgeois parliamentary opposition. It means to once again be deceived and betrayed by the false hope that replacing BJP by Congress Party or some anti-BJP coalition will advance the interests of the peasants.
Both Congress Party and BJP have been trained by the ruling class in keeping the people divided and diverted from their real enemy. We cannot forget how the Congress Party led the campaign in the 1980s to paint the struggles of kisans as “Sikh separatism” and justify unleashing state terrorism in Punjab.
One of the most important lessons of historical experience is that the capitalist path of economic development cannot ensure secure livelihood to those who till the land. Capitalist growth, led and dominated by the monopoly houses, is bound to drive the majority of kisans ever deeper into crisis.
There is only one solution. Central and state governments must take responsibility to create a public procurement system covering all food and non-food crops. They must ensure that peasants are provided with agricultural inputs at affordable rates and all farm output is bought at stable and remunerative prices. They must connect the public procurement system to a public distribution system geared to ensure the availability of all essential consumption goods at affordable prices for all. Workers’ and peasants’ organisations and people’s committees must monitor the public procurement and public distribution systems. They must ensure that there are no leakages caused by private profiteers and corrupt officials.
The only political force that can carry out these measures is an alliance of the workers and peasants. Such a force has to take political power in its hands. Only then can the monopoly capitalist companies and all other private profiteers be driven out of the sphere of agricultural trade. Only then can all working people be guaranteed secure livelihood and steady progress in their living standards.