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Historic Bharat Bandh draws response from millions

Brings farmers’ struggle centre stage, rattles the BJP regime

30 Sep 2021

Bharat bandh

The Bharat Bandh on September 27, 2021 was truly historic. In breadth, sweep and intensity, it surpassed the earlier two Bharat Bandhs that took place on December 8, 2020 and March 26, 2021 in solidarity with the unprecedented farmers’ struggle. It was called by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) to coincide with the completion of 10 months or 305 days of this struggle, which has made 605 Kisan martyrs so far.

It was exactly a year ago on September 27, 2020, that the President of India Ram Nath Kovind had given presidential assent to the three anti-farmer, anti-people and pro-corporate Farm Laws, which were rammed through Parliament by the Modi regime by murdering parliamentary democracy, on September 17 in the Lok Sabha and September 20 in the Rajya Sabha. A few days later, on September 29, the same government rammed through Parliament three of the four anti-worker and pro-corporate Labour Codes. The first Code on Wages was enacted by the same Modi regime in 2019.


Political support

The Bharat Bandh was actively supported by several opposition parties, all central trade unions, and hundreds of organizations of agricultural workers, employees, traders, transporters, women, youth, students, teachers and lawyers. Thousands of images of the Bharat Bandh success have appeared on the social media handles of SKM, AIKS, CITU and others. Many of the mainstream print and electronic media had to give coverage to this massive action.

The state governments that publicly supported the Bharat Bandh were the LDF government of Kerala, the DMK government of Tamilnadu, the YSR Congress government of Andhra Pradesh, the JMM-led government of Jharkhand and the Congress government of Punjab. Left Parties like the CPI-M, CPI, AIFB, RSP, CPI-ML (Liberation), CPI-ML (ND), SUCI(C), in addition to many other parties like INC, AAP, SP, TDP, NCP, DMK, YSRCP, JMM, RJD, JD(S), BSP, SAD-Samyukt, Swaraj India and others extended their support to the Bharat Bandh. The Central Trade Unions organised protest rallies at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi and in many other centres.

The hypocrisy of the TMC regime in West Bengal was on full display when, on the one hand, it made empty noises in support of the farmers, but on the other, not only opposed the Bandh call but also ensured that the Bengal police rain blows on CPI(M) and Left activists on the Bandh day. The BJP government in Tripura too launched several repressive attacks on the CPI(M) and the Left.

The Bharat Bandh was clearly directed against the anti-people and pro-corporate policies and also the communal and authoritarian conspiracies of the BJP-RSS regime led by Modi and Shah. Some of the main issues that were highlighted in the Bharat Bandh were: Repeal of the three Farm Laws and the four Labour Codes; withdrawal of the Electricity Amendment Bill; central law to guarantee Minimum Support Price (MSP) for all agricultural produce at one and a half times the comprehensive cost of production (C2+50 per cent); an end to the privatization drive aimed at selling off the public sector and the country to corporates for a pittance; halving the astronomical prices of diesel, petrol, gas and other essential commodities; doubling the days of work and wages in the MGNREGA, and extending this scheme to urban areas; and defending democracy, secularism and the Constitution against the attacks of the RSS-BJP.


Widespread response   

The detailed SKM press statement released on September 27 stated, “Reports have come in from hundreds of locations from Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chattisgarh, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Kerala, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Pondicherry, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and West Bengal about the Bandh, and numerous events to accompany the same. In Punjab alone, there were more than 500 locations in which people gathered to express their support to the Bandh, and their participation in the farmers' movement. Similarly, the Bandh witnessed numerous non-farmer associations stand in solidarity with farmers, and also raise their own issues. Lakhs of citizens took part in the Bandh events today. 

“Life came to a near standstill in several states like Kerala, Punjab, Haryana, Jharkhand and Bihar. Reports indicate that in several parts of southern Assam, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand, the same was the situation. Scores of protests marked the day in states like Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. In Jaipur and Bangalore, capital cities of Rajasthan and Karnataka, tens of thousands of protesters joined protest rallies taken out in the cities. The overall mood across the country was of anger and frustration with BJP-RSS policies that the Modi Government is enforcing, curbing basic freedoms and democracy, and putting most citizens on the path of survival struggle. It is patently clear that the people of India are tired of the Modi Government's adamant, unreasonable and egoistic stand on protesting farmers' legitimate demands, and anti-people policies in numerous sectors.

The response to this Bandh call was more widespread than before. Nearly all Opposition political parties had extended unconditional support to the Bandh and were in fact keen on not being left out. Trade unions were firmly with the farmers, showcasing the unity of farmers and workers once again. Various trader, merchant and transporter associations, student and youth organisations, women's organisations, taxi and auto unions, teachers' and lawyers' unions, journalists' unions, writers and artists and other progressive groups were firmly with the farmers of the country in this Bandh. People were highly sympathetic to the cause of the annadaatas of India. Even while hundreds of volunteers were detained across the country, the Bandh remained peaceful. The most remarkable aspect of the Bandh was its scale and expanse. Reports of the Bandh emerged from every state of India, and it reached farmers in far and distant places of India.
 

International solidarity

The ongoing farmers' movement and the Bandh call got support from the Indian diaspora in various countries, along with farmers' organisations of other countries. During Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent overseas trip to the US, supporters of farmers organised protests in America, in Washington DC outside the White House. They held up placards that said, ‘We Support Farmers’, ‘No Farmers, No Food, No Future’, ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’, ‘Indian Government Suppressing Farmers’, and so on. Farmers' supporters turned up with flags even in so-called celebration events organised to mark the American trip of PM Modi. Protests were also held near the United Nations building in New York. There was a Kisan Car Rally organised in Sacramento, California, to extend support to the protesting farmers. Protests were led by the Indian Workers Association of Great Britain in the United Kingdom, at London, Birmingham and Glasgow, in addition to a protest in Dublin, Ireland. There was a solidarity demonstration by the Indo-Canadian Workers Association at Surrey, and a solidarity walk in Toronto, both in Canada.

Multiple hashtags pertaining to the farmers’ movement have been trending for a long time in India, where Twitterati also reached out to the United Nations General Assembly's 76th Session President on the farmers' agitation. In the past too, farmer leaders have reached out to the United Nations highlighting the fact that India is violating multiple articles under the 'UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas', adopted in 2018 by the United Nations.


AIKS welcomes Bandh success, condemns gruesome killings

The countrywide role and initiative of the AIKS, CITU, AIAWU, AIDWA, DYFI and SFI in the campaign for, and execution of, the Bharat Bandh was impressive. The AIKS statement released on September 27, expressed its profound happiness and extended hearty congratulations to all sections of the people who made the Bharat Bandh called by the SKM a grand and historic success. Stating that the main slogan of the Bandh was ‘Corporate Forces, Hands Off Agriculture, and Modi-Shah Quit Power’, the statement concluded by saying, “The political direction of today’s Bharat Bandh is that the last few years of joint struggles with the solid class character of worker-peasant unity now paves the way towards building a larger people’s united front against corporate exploitation especially in agriculture, industry and services. Those political parties who stand for protecting the corporate interests will face the people’s ire and will be pushed back in the face of the emergence of this movement of people’s resistance.”   

Just before the Bharat Bandh, came the horrific news of the police of the BJP’s Assam government gunning down two Muslim farmers, one of whom was a 12-year-old boy. The AIKS held an immediate press conference in Delhi on September 25, which was addressed by general secretary Hannan Mollah, president Ashok Dhawale, joint secretaries N K Shukla and Vijoo Krishnan and finance secretary P Krishnaprasad.

The AIKS statement said, “AIKS expresses shock and anger at the manner in which brute force has been used to forcibly evict thousands of poor peasants in the Dholpur-Gorukhuti area of Sipajhar in Darrang district of Assam. Two farmers are reported to have been killed and many are injured in police firing. The horrific manner of the police action and the brutality inflicted on a farmer already shot dead is a blot on humanity. The eviction drive took place even as a case was pending with the Gauhati High Court on the matter, without even giving enough notice to the people. Constitutional guarantee of equality and security for all citizens is being grossly violated. AIKS demands dismissal of the authorities responsible for the killing and resignation of the Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma holding the Home Affairs portfolio, who is directly responsible for encouraging such action. AIKS demands Judicial enquiry by a sitting Judge of the High Court into the incidents.

The Chief Minister, a couple of days ago, displayed extreme insensitivity justified the eviction of the farmers who are Bengali Muslims cultivating land for decades, and expressed happiness as well as complimented the district administration and Assam police “for having cleared about 4500 bigha, by evicting 800 households, demolishing four illegal religious structures and a private institution.” How can an elected representative be happy that thousands of people are forcibly evicted without any mutually agreed upon rehabilitation and resettlement plan? The entire eviction drive in the name of ‘illegal migrants’ is with an ulterior motive of communally polarising the State by pitting communities against one another. If the Government was actually promoting a policy of community farming, it could have involved these 800 households who were cultivating the area for decades. After the Haryana BJP Government brutally killed a farmer Sushil Kajal, now the Assam BJP Government has also followed suit by shooting down two farmers with a sinister agenda of pitting communities against one another. 

It has to be noted that the poor peasant households had settled here after displacement due to floods in the Brahmaputra; their lands in the riverine area Kirakara near the Darrang district Headquarters Mangaldoi had been washed away. They had been cultivating the land for decades now. The humanitarian concern not to brand them as encroachers and allow them to earn their livelihood by ensuring mutually agreed upon resettlement as well as rehabilitation including provision of cultivable land clearly was lacking in the present Assam Government’s drive. The right of the Muslim peasantry to peacefully earn their livelihood in their own land is being denied.  

AIKS demands a compensation of Rs 25 lakh and job to families of the deceased as well as Rs 5 lakh for the seriously injured. AIKS calls upon all its units to protest against the targeting of Muslim peasants and unleashing of brutal violence on them. We demand immediate halt to the eviction drive and proper rehabilitation and resettlement for the affected families.                                                         

The SKM also released a similar statement of condemnation. The AIKS and AIAWU will soon be sending their joint central and state team to Assam to visit the families of the martyrs. 

On September 28, the day after the historic Bharat Bandh, as per the SKM call, farmers from across the nation observed Shaheed Bhagat Singh Jayanti. Remembrance programs were held at all SKM morchas and protest sites where youth and students came together in large numbers, and remembered the great son of India who laid down his life in a supreme sacrifice for the values of freedom, democracy, secularism and socialism. Shaheed Bhagat Singh's sacrifice will always inspire the farmers and the people of India in their fight against injustice.

*The writer is all India president of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS)

Related:

Bharat Bandh: Massive preparations on, countrywide

No confidence in the Modi regime: Kisan Sansad

Kisan Sansad urges Parliament to dismiss the AQM Bill

Kisan Sansad: Farmers reject APMC Bypass Act

 

Historic Bharat Bandh draws response from millions

Brings farmers’ struggle centre stage, rattles the BJP regime

Bharat bandh

The Bharat Bandh on September 27, 2021 was truly historic. In breadth, sweep and intensity, it surpassed the earlier two Bharat Bandhs that took place on December 8, 2020 and March 26, 2021 in solidarity with the unprecedented farmers’ struggle. It was called by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) to coincide with the completion of 10 months or 305 days of this struggle, which has made 605 Kisan martyrs so far.

It was exactly a year ago on September 27, 2020, that the President of India Ram Nath Kovind had given presidential assent to the three anti-farmer, anti-people and pro-corporate Farm Laws, which were rammed through Parliament by the Modi regime by murdering parliamentary democracy, on September 17 in the Lok Sabha and September 20 in the Rajya Sabha. A few days later, on September 29, the same government rammed through Parliament three of the four anti-worker and pro-corporate Labour Codes. The first Code on Wages was enacted by the same Modi regime in 2019.


Political support

The Bharat Bandh was actively supported by several opposition parties, all central trade unions, and hundreds of organizations of agricultural workers, employees, traders, transporters, women, youth, students, teachers and lawyers. Thousands of images of the Bharat Bandh success have appeared on the social media handles of SKM, AIKS, CITU and others. Many of the mainstream print and electronic media had to give coverage to this massive action.

The state governments that publicly supported the Bharat Bandh were the LDF government of Kerala, the DMK government of Tamilnadu, the YSR Congress government of Andhra Pradesh, the JMM-led government of Jharkhand and the Congress government of Punjab. Left Parties like the CPI-M, CPI, AIFB, RSP, CPI-ML (Liberation), CPI-ML (ND), SUCI(C), in addition to many other parties like INC, AAP, SP, TDP, NCP, DMK, YSRCP, JMM, RJD, JD(S), BSP, SAD-Samyukt, Swaraj India and others extended their support to the Bharat Bandh. The Central Trade Unions organised protest rallies at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi and in many other centres.

The hypocrisy of the TMC regime in West Bengal was on full display when, on the one hand, it made empty noises in support of the farmers, but on the other, not only opposed the Bandh call but also ensured that the Bengal police rain blows on CPI(M) and Left activists on the Bandh day. The BJP government in Tripura too launched several repressive attacks on the CPI(M) and the Left.

The Bharat Bandh was clearly directed against the anti-people and pro-corporate policies and also the communal and authoritarian conspiracies of the BJP-RSS regime led by Modi and Shah. Some of the main issues that were highlighted in the Bharat Bandh were: Repeal of the three Farm Laws and the four Labour Codes; withdrawal of the Electricity Amendment Bill; central law to guarantee Minimum Support Price (MSP) for all agricultural produce at one and a half times the comprehensive cost of production (C2+50 per cent); an end to the privatization drive aimed at selling off the public sector and the country to corporates for a pittance; halving the astronomical prices of diesel, petrol, gas and other essential commodities; doubling the days of work and wages in the MGNREGA, and extending this scheme to urban areas; and defending democracy, secularism and the Constitution against the attacks of the RSS-BJP.


Widespread response   

The detailed SKM press statement released on September 27 stated, “Reports have come in from hundreds of locations from Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chattisgarh, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Kerala, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Pondicherry, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and West Bengal about the Bandh, and numerous events to accompany the same. In Punjab alone, there were more than 500 locations in which people gathered to express their support to the Bandh, and their participation in the farmers' movement. Similarly, the Bandh witnessed numerous non-farmer associations stand in solidarity with farmers, and also raise their own issues. Lakhs of citizens took part in the Bandh events today. 

“Life came to a near standstill in several states like Kerala, Punjab, Haryana, Jharkhand and Bihar. Reports indicate that in several parts of southern Assam, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand, the same was the situation. Scores of protests marked the day in states like Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. In Jaipur and Bangalore, capital cities of Rajasthan and Karnataka, tens of thousands of protesters joined protest rallies taken out in the cities. The overall mood across the country was of anger and frustration with BJP-RSS policies that the Modi Government is enforcing, curbing basic freedoms and democracy, and putting most citizens on the path of survival struggle. It is patently clear that the people of India are tired of the Modi Government's adamant, unreasonable and egoistic stand on protesting farmers' legitimate demands, and anti-people policies in numerous sectors.

The response to this Bandh call was more widespread than before. Nearly all Opposition political parties had extended unconditional support to the Bandh and were in fact keen on not being left out. Trade unions were firmly with the farmers, showcasing the unity of farmers and workers once again. Various trader, merchant and transporter associations, student and youth organisations, women's organisations, taxi and auto unions, teachers' and lawyers' unions, journalists' unions, writers and artists and other progressive groups were firmly with the farmers of the country in this Bandh. People were highly sympathetic to the cause of the annadaatas of India. Even while hundreds of volunteers were detained across the country, the Bandh remained peaceful. The most remarkable aspect of the Bandh was its scale and expanse. Reports of the Bandh emerged from every state of India, and it reached farmers in far and distant places of India.
 

International solidarity

The ongoing farmers' movement and the Bandh call got support from the Indian diaspora in various countries, along with farmers' organisations of other countries. During Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent overseas trip to the US, supporters of farmers organised protests in America, in Washington DC outside the White House. They held up placards that said, ‘We Support Farmers’, ‘No Farmers, No Food, No Future’, ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’, ‘Indian Government Suppressing Farmers’, and so on. Farmers' supporters turned up with flags even in so-called celebration events organised to mark the American trip of PM Modi. Protests were also held near the United Nations building in New York. There was a Kisan Car Rally organised in Sacramento, California, to extend support to the protesting farmers. Protests were led by the Indian Workers Association of Great Britain in the United Kingdom, at London, Birmingham and Glasgow, in addition to a protest in Dublin, Ireland. There was a solidarity demonstration by the Indo-Canadian Workers Association at Surrey, and a solidarity walk in Toronto, both in Canada.

Multiple hashtags pertaining to the farmers’ movement have been trending for a long time in India, where Twitterati also reached out to the United Nations General Assembly's 76th Session President on the farmers' agitation. In the past too, farmer leaders have reached out to the United Nations highlighting the fact that India is violating multiple articles under the 'UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas', adopted in 2018 by the United Nations.


AIKS welcomes Bandh success, condemns gruesome killings

The countrywide role and initiative of the AIKS, CITU, AIAWU, AIDWA, DYFI and SFI in the campaign for, and execution of, the Bharat Bandh was impressive. The AIKS statement released on September 27, expressed its profound happiness and extended hearty congratulations to all sections of the people who made the Bharat Bandh called by the SKM a grand and historic success. Stating that the main slogan of the Bandh was ‘Corporate Forces, Hands Off Agriculture, and Modi-Shah Quit Power’, the statement concluded by saying, “The political direction of today’s Bharat Bandh is that the last few years of joint struggles with the solid class character of worker-peasant unity now paves the way towards building a larger people’s united front against corporate exploitation especially in agriculture, industry and services. Those political parties who stand for protecting the corporate interests will face the people’s ire and will be pushed back in the face of the emergence of this movement of people’s resistance.”   

Just before the Bharat Bandh, came the horrific news of the police of the BJP’s Assam government gunning down two Muslim farmers, one of whom was a 12-year-old boy. The AIKS held an immediate press conference in Delhi on September 25, which was addressed by general secretary Hannan Mollah, president Ashok Dhawale, joint secretaries N K Shukla and Vijoo Krishnan and finance secretary P Krishnaprasad.

The AIKS statement said, “AIKS expresses shock and anger at the manner in which brute force has been used to forcibly evict thousands of poor peasants in the Dholpur-Gorukhuti area of Sipajhar in Darrang district of Assam. Two farmers are reported to have been killed and many are injured in police firing. The horrific manner of the police action and the brutality inflicted on a farmer already shot dead is a blot on humanity. The eviction drive took place even as a case was pending with the Gauhati High Court on the matter, without even giving enough notice to the people. Constitutional guarantee of equality and security for all citizens is being grossly violated. AIKS demands dismissal of the authorities responsible for the killing and resignation of the Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma holding the Home Affairs portfolio, who is directly responsible for encouraging such action. AIKS demands Judicial enquiry by a sitting Judge of the High Court into the incidents.

The Chief Minister, a couple of days ago, displayed extreme insensitivity justified the eviction of the farmers who are Bengali Muslims cultivating land for decades, and expressed happiness as well as complimented the district administration and Assam police “for having cleared about 4500 bigha, by evicting 800 households, demolishing four illegal religious structures and a private institution.” How can an elected representative be happy that thousands of people are forcibly evicted without any mutually agreed upon rehabilitation and resettlement plan? The entire eviction drive in the name of ‘illegal migrants’ is with an ulterior motive of communally polarising the State by pitting communities against one another. If the Government was actually promoting a policy of community farming, it could have involved these 800 households who were cultivating the area for decades. After the Haryana BJP Government brutally killed a farmer Sushil Kajal, now the Assam BJP Government has also followed suit by shooting down two farmers with a sinister agenda of pitting communities against one another. 

It has to be noted that the poor peasant households had settled here after displacement due to floods in the Brahmaputra; their lands in the riverine area Kirakara near the Darrang district Headquarters Mangaldoi had been washed away. They had been cultivating the land for decades now. The humanitarian concern not to brand them as encroachers and allow them to earn their livelihood by ensuring mutually agreed upon resettlement as well as rehabilitation including provision of cultivable land clearly was lacking in the present Assam Government’s drive. The right of the Muslim peasantry to peacefully earn their livelihood in their own land is being denied.  

AIKS demands a compensation of Rs 25 lakh and job to families of the deceased as well as Rs 5 lakh for the seriously injured. AIKS calls upon all its units to protest against the targeting of Muslim peasants and unleashing of brutal violence on them. We demand immediate halt to the eviction drive and proper rehabilitation and resettlement for the affected families.                                                         

The SKM also released a similar statement of condemnation. The AIKS and AIAWU will soon be sending their joint central and state team to Assam to visit the families of the martyrs. 

On September 28, the day after the historic Bharat Bandh, as per the SKM call, farmers from across the nation observed Shaheed Bhagat Singh Jayanti. Remembrance programs were held at all SKM morchas and protest sites where youth and students came together in large numbers, and remembered the great son of India who laid down his life in a supreme sacrifice for the values of freedom, democracy, secularism and socialism. Shaheed Bhagat Singh's sacrifice will always inspire the farmers and the people of India in their fight against injustice.

*The writer is all India president of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS)

Related:

Bharat Bandh: Massive preparations on, countrywide

No confidence in the Modi regime: Kisan Sansad

Kisan Sansad urges Parliament to dismiss the AQM Bill

Kisan Sansad: Farmers reject APMC Bypass Act

 

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Sabrang

Bharat Bandh: Massive preparations on, countrywide

The call for a Bandh on September 27 was given at the SKM National Convention that took place at the Singhu border in August; demands include repeal of recent agriculture laws, legal guarantee for MSP, and an end to various pro-corporate policies of the gov’t

23 Sep 2021

Bharat bandh

Massive countrywide preparations are on in almost all states to ensure the success of the September 27 Bharat Bandh call given by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), and supported by Left and other opposition political parties, all central trade unions, and numerous organisations of employees, teachers, traders, transporters, agricultural workers, women, youth and students. The Bharat Bandh has been called to coincide with the completion of ten months of the historic farmers’ struggle, and is directed at the anti-people and pro-corporate policies and also the communal and authoritarian conspiracies of the BJP-RSS regime led by Narendra Modi and Amit Shah.

The Bharat Bandh call was given by the SKM National Convention at the Singhu border that was held on August 26-27, 2021. The 10 lakh-strong Kisan Mazdoor Mahapanchayat at Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh on September 5 reiterated that call and spread it far and wide.

Intensive campaign

Some of the main issues that are being highlighted in the Bharat Bandh campaign are: Repeal of the three Farm Laws and the four Labour Codes; withdrawal of the Electricity Amendment Bill; central law to guarantee Minimum Support Price (MSP) for all agricultural produce at one and a half times the comprehensive cost of production (C2+50 per cent); an end to the privatisation drive aimed at selling off the public sector and the country to corporates for a pittance; halving the astronomical prices of diesel, petrol, gas and other essential commodities; doubling the days of work and wages in the MGNREGA, and extending this scheme to urban areas; and defending democracy, secularism and the Constitution against the attacks of the RSS-BJP.  

Impressive state level joint conventions and press conferences have been held over the past two weeks to plan the Bharat Bandh in states like Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Tripura, Assam, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. All constituents of the SKM and thousands of activists of other organisations have participated in these. Central and state leaders of the AIKS, CITU, AIAWU, AIDWA, DYFI and SFI have been in the forefront of organizing these joint conventions.

Besides, thousands of district, tehsil, city, town and village level meetings have been held to propagate the Bandh call. Lakhs and lakhs of leaflets have been distributed to the people. This has spread the message of the Bandh to millions of people across the country. The SKM has announced that the Bandh will be from 6 am to 4 pm, with only essential services excluded.

The Indian Workers Association (IWA) of Great Britain has organised a demonstration of solidarity with the farmers of India, outside India House in London at noon on September 25.     

The SKM has also extended active support to the All India Strike of Scheme Workers on September 24, which will have the massive participation of Anganwadi, ASHA, MDM, NCLP, SSA and NHM workers. These workers are demanding regularisation of their services as Workers, with provision of minimum wages, in addition to stopping of privatisation of public sector units and services and withdrawal of the four Labour Codes. SKM recognises that these scheme workers delivering basic services of nutrition, healthcare, early childhood care and education in even remote parts of the country, who are mainly women, are being exploited and do not get even sustenance level allowances. These workers have been at the frontline of fighting the Covid pandemic at the risk to their own lives. SKM has greeted lakhs of these workers, and has expressed full solidarity to their historic all India strike planned for September 24.

NSO survey reveals bankruptcy of Modi regime

Two events last week once again revealed the sheer bankruptcy of the Modi regime vis a vis agriculture and farmers. One was the report of the 77th Round survey of the National Statistical Office (NSO). The second was the MSP declared by the central government for Rabi crops.  

The Modi Government has been dangling the elusive goal of ‘Doubling Farmers’ Income’ for years. The deadline for the promise made in 2016, for doubling farmers’ income in six years by 2022, is just three months away. While refusing the farmers’ demand for legally guaranteeing remunerative MSP on all agricultural produce based on the C2 + 50 per cent formula, the Modi Government chose to do direct income transfers of a meagre Rs 500 a month for land-owning agricultural households. Even this was done as a pre-election stunt in 2019.

And now, the report card on the Modi government’s jumla is officially out. NSO’s 77th Round survey shows that over 50 per cent of the agricultural households are in debt, with the farmers’ debt increasing by 58 per cent over the last five years. Income from farming has decreased in real terms, with more agricultural income coming in the form of wages or non-farm business than from cultivation. This confirms an overall trend of turning farmers into agricultural labourers in India. It also confirms that the remunerative price route is the most direct route of improving farmer incomes in India.

The 77th Round survey of NSO on the Situation Assessment of Agricultural Households (data of 2019) clearly shows that the income from farming (crop production and livestock farming) on an average at Rs 5380 per month is not significantly higher than income for an agricultural household from other sources like wages and non-farm business (at Rs 4838 per month). This is despite the fact that 92.7 per cent of the agricultural households are engaged in crop production during the Kharif season. Net average receipts from crop production at Rs 3798 per month are in fact lower than wage income at Rs 4063 per month for these agricultural households in India in 2019. Way back in 2013, as per the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) 70th Round survey, the net receipts from cultivation were Rs 3081 per month, whereas wages were Rs 2071 per month. This clearly shows the decline of farming in the past six years.

Moreover, in 15 states of the country, the net receipts from crop production are lesser than the national average of Rs 3798 per month, which in itself works out to a meagre income of around Rs 125 per agricultural household per day. It is clear that farmers of this country are being made into agricultural labourers when it comes to their main source of income.  

MSP for Rabi crops cheats farmers, again

Last week the Central Government announced the MSP for Rabi crops with the usual rhetoric of ‘greatest ever increase in MSP’, ‘extraordinary favour to the farmers’, etc. However, the fact is that the government has actually reduced the MSP of Rabi crops in real terms. While the retail inflation stands at 6 per cent, the MSP of wheat and chana has been increased by 2 per cent and 2.5 per cent only. This means that in real terms, MSP of wheat and chana has been reduced by 4 per cent and 3.5 per cent respectively. The new MSP of Rs 2015 declared for wheat for 2022-23 is equivalent to Rs 1,901 when adjusted for inflation, which is Rs 74 less than Rs 1,975 declared for wheat for 2021-22. Similarly, the MSP of chana (gram) has been reduced from Rs 5,100 to Rs 4,934 in real terms. On the one hand, the farmers are facing the brunt of massively increased prices of diesel, petrol, fertilizers, other agricultural inputs and their daily necessities, and on the other hand, they are becoming poorer as their income is getting reduced.

The Government is also deceitfully misusing the term ‘Comprehensive Costs’ which has always been used to refer to the C2 Cost of Production. As pointed out by farmer organisations since 2018, the government is blatantly deceiving the farmers and the nation by using a lower cost measure (A2+FL) and claiming that it is providing MSP as 50 per cent above the comprehensive cost. For example, in 2021-22, the comprehensive cost of production (C2) for wheat was Rs 1467 which is 50 per cent higher than the lower cost (A2+FL) of Rs 960 used by the government.

Finally, without a Legal Guarantee for MSP, the MSP declared by the government will remain on paper for most of the farmers. Lakhs of farmers, particularly in states where the mandi (common market) system is weak, have to sell their crops below MSP. The legal guarantee for MSP has been the longstanding demand of the farmers, and one of the key demands of the SKM.

The All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) in its statement condemned the callous manner in which the Narendra Modi-led BJP government announced the MSP for the Rabi Marketing Season, 2022-23 without following the C2+50 per cent formula or even taking into account increased costs of inputs and inflation. This statement said, “The increase in wheat prices is merely 2.03 percent from Rs 1,975 to Rs 2015 per quintal, the lowest increase in 12 years. The MSPs of other crops have a meagre nominal increase ranging from 2.14 per cent to 8.60 per cent, while in real terms in all crops the farmers will suffer huge losses. Besides, only a small section of farmers gets to sell their produce at MSP since there is no guaranteed procurement. In the absence of guaranteed procurement even this MSP is not ensured for farmers. This is precisely the reason why farmers are demanding MSP at C2+50 per cent as a legal right.”

Cynical corporate loot

Recently, apple farmers in Himachal Pradesh have led big protests against the government’s apathy towards their demands to ensure remunerative prices for apples, and against the open loot by corporates. This year Adani Agri Fresh has fixed the rate of A-grade premium apples at Rs 72 per Kg, against Rs 88 per Kg last year. Consequently, most of the farmers are making a loss. The apple farmers are joined by the farmers growing tomatoes, potatoes, garlic, cauliflower and other crops, who are demanding legal guarantee of MSP for all crops.

Lastly, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar was recently busy inaugurating Amazon India’s Kisan Store. After crops and insurance, the government has also handed over fertilizers and seeds to the corporates. The urea that IFFCO sells at Rs 266.50 for a 45 kg bag, is now selling at Rs 199 a kg on Amazon! On Flipkart, the price of 450 grams of urea is written as Rs 130! This is shameless black marketing of fertilizers on a platform launched by the Agriculture Minister himself!

It is this cynical loot and exploitation by corporate communalism, represented by the Modi-Shah-Ambani-Adani corrupt combine, which is being valiantly combated by farmers for the last ten months, and will again be fought tooth and nail by the Bharat Bandh on September 27.

(The writer is all India president of the All India Kisan Sabha)

Related:

No confidence in the Modi regime: Kisan Sansad

Kisan Sansad urges Parliament to dismiss the AQM Bill

Kisan Sansad: Farmers reject APMC Bypass Act

 

Bharat Bandh: Massive preparations on, countrywide

The call for a Bandh on September 27 was given at the SKM National Convention that took place at the Singhu border in August; demands include repeal of recent agriculture laws, legal guarantee for MSP, and an end to various pro-corporate policies of the gov’t

Bharat bandh

Massive countrywide preparations are on in almost all states to ensure the success of the September 27 Bharat Bandh call given by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), and supported by Left and other opposition political parties, all central trade unions, and numerous organisations of employees, teachers, traders, transporters, agricultural workers, women, youth and students. The Bharat Bandh has been called to coincide with the completion of ten months of the historic farmers’ struggle, and is directed at the anti-people and pro-corporate policies and also the communal and authoritarian conspiracies of the BJP-RSS regime led by Narendra Modi and Amit Shah.

The Bharat Bandh call was given by the SKM National Convention at the Singhu border that was held on August 26-27, 2021. The 10 lakh-strong Kisan Mazdoor Mahapanchayat at Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh on September 5 reiterated that call and spread it far and wide.

Intensive campaign

Some of the main issues that are being highlighted in the Bharat Bandh campaign are: Repeal of the three Farm Laws and the four Labour Codes; withdrawal of the Electricity Amendment Bill; central law to guarantee Minimum Support Price (MSP) for all agricultural produce at one and a half times the comprehensive cost of production (C2+50 per cent); an end to the privatisation drive aimed at selling off the public sector and the country to corporates for a pittance; halving the astronomical prices of diesel, petrol, gas and other essential commodities; doubling the days of work and wages in the MGNREGA, and extending this scheme to urban areas; and defending democracy, secularism and the Constitution against the attacks of the RSS-BJP.  

Impressive state level joint conventions and press conferences have been held over the past two weeks to plan the Bharat Bandh in states like Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Tripura, Assam, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. All constituents of the SKM and thousands of activists of other organisations have participated in these. Central and state leaders of the AIKS, CITU, AIAWU, AIDWA, DYFI and SFI have been in the forefront of organizing these joint conventions.

Besides, thousands of district, tehsil, city, town and village level meetings have been held to propagate the Bandh call. Lakhs and lakhs of leaflets have been distributed to the people. This has spread the message of the Bandh to millions of people across the country. The SKM has announced that the Bandh will be from 6 am to 4 pm, with only essential services excluded.

The Indian Workers Association (IWA) of Great Britain has organised a demonstration of solidarity with the farmers of India, outside India House in London at noon on September 25.     

The SKM has also extended active support to the All India Strike of Scheme Workers on September 24, which will have the massive participation of Anganwadi, ASHA, MDM, NCLP, SSA and NHM workers. These workers are demanding regularisation of their services as Workers, with provision of minimum wages, in addition to stopping of privatisation of public sector units and services and withdrawal of the four Labour Codes. SKM recognises that these scheme workers delivering basic services of nutrition, healthcare, early childhood care and education in even remote parts of the country, who are mainly women, are being exploited and do not get even sustenance level allowances. These workers have been at the frontline of fighting the Covid pandemic at the risk to their own lives. SKM has greeted lakhs of these workers, and has expressed full solidarity to their historic all India strike planned for September 24.

NSO survey reveals bankruptcy of Modi regime

Two events last week once again revealed the sheer bankruptcy of the Modi regime vis a vis agriculture and farmers. One was the report of the 77th Round survey of the National Statistical Office (NSO). The second was the MSP declared by the central government for Rabi crops.  

The Modi Government has been dangling the elusive goal of ‘Doubling Farmers’ Income’ for years. The deadline for the promise made in 2016, for doubling farmers’ income in six years by 2022, is just three months away. While refusing the farmers’ demand for legally guaranteeing remunerative MSP on all agricultural produce based on the C2 + 50 per cent formula, the Modi Government chose to do direct income transfers of a meagre Rs 500 a month for land-owning agricultural households. Even this was done as a pre-election stunt in 2019.

And now, the report card on the Modi government’s jumla is officially out. NSO’s 77th Round survey shows that over 50 per cent of the agricultural households are in debt, with the farmers’ debt increasing by 58 per cent over the last five years. Income from farming has decreased in real terms, with more agricultural income coming in the form of wages or non-farm business than from cultivation. This confirms an overall trend of turning farmers into agricultural labourers in India. It also confirms that the remunerative price route is the most direct route of improving farmer incomes in India.

The 77th Round survey of NSO on the Situation Assessment of Agricultural Households (data of 2019) clearly shows that the income from farming (crop production and livestock farming) on an average at Rs 5380 per month is not significantly higher than income for an agricultural household from other sources like wages and non-farm business (at Rs 4838 per month). This is despite the fact that 92.7 per cent of the agricultural households are engaged in crop production during the Kharif season. Net average receipts from crop production at Rs 3798 per month are in fact lower than wage income at Rs 4063 per month for these agricultural households in India in 2019. Way back in 2013, as per the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) 70th Round survey, the net receipts from cultivation were Rs 3081 per month, whereas wages were Rs 2071 per month. This clearly shows the decline of farming in the past six years.

Moreover, in 15 states of the country, the net receipts from crop production are lesser than the national average of Rs 3798 per month, which in itself works out to a meagre income of around Rs 125 per agricultural household per day. It is clear that farmers of this country are being made into agricultural labourers when it comes to their main source of income.  

MSP for Rabi crops cheats farmers, again

Last week the Central Government announced the MSP for Rabi crops with the usual rhetoric of ‘greatest ever increase in MSP’, ‘extraordinary favour to the farmers’, etc. However, the fact is that the government has actually reduced the MSP of Rabi crops in real terms. While the retail inflation stands at 6 per cent, the MSP of wheat and chana has been increased by 2 per cent and 2.5 per cent only. This means that in real terms, MSP of wheat and chana has been reduced by 4 per cent and 3.5 per cent respectively. The new MSP of Rs 2015 declared for wheat for 2022-23 is equivalent to Rs 1,901 when adjusted for inflation, which is Rs 74 less than Rs 1,975 declared for wheat for 2021-22. Similarly, the MSP of chana (gram) has been reduced from Rs 5,100 to Rs 4,934 in real terms. On the one hand, the farmers are facing the brunt of massively increased prices of diesel, petrol, fertilizers, other agricultural inputs and their daily necessities, and on the other hand, they are becoming poorer as their income is getting reduced.

The Government is also deceitfully misusing the term ‘Comprehensive Costs’ which has always been used to refer to the C2 Cost of Production. As pointed out by farmer organisations since 2018, the government is blatantly deceiving the farmers and the nation by using a lower cost measure (A2+FL) and claiming that it is providing MSP as 50 per cent above the comprehensive cost. For example, in 2021-22, the comprehensive cost of production (C2) for wheat was Rs 1467 which is 50 per cent higher than the lower cost (A2+FL) of Rs 960 used by the government.

Finally, without a Legal Guarantee for MSP, the MSP declared by the government will remain on paper for most of the farmers. Lakhs of farmers, particularly in states where the mandi (common market) system is weak, have to sell their crops below MSP. The legal guarantee for MSP has been the longstanding demand of the farmers, and one of the key demands of the SKM.

The All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) in its statement condemned the callous manner in which the Narendra Modi-led BJP government announced the MSP for the Rabi Marketing Season, 2022-23 without following the C2+50 per cent formula or even taking into account increased costs of inputs and inflation. This statement said, “The increase in wheat prices is merely 2.03 percent from Rs 1,975 to Rs 2015 per quintal, the lowest increase in 12 years. The MSPs of other crops have a meagre nominal increase ranging from 2.14 per cent to 8.60 per cent, while in real terms in all crops the farmers will suffer huge losses. Besides, only a small section of farmers gets to sell their produce at MSP since there is no guaranteed procurement. In the absence of guaranteed procurement even this MSP is not ensured for farmers. This is precisely the reason why farmers are demanding MSP at C2+50 per cent as a legal right.”

Cynical corporate loot

Recently, apple farmers in Himachal Pradesh have led big protests against the government’s apathy towards their demands to ensure remunerative prices for apples, and against the open loot by corporates. This year Adani Agri Fresh has fixed the rate of A-grade premium apples at Rs 72 per Kg, against Rs 88 per Kg last year. Consequently, most of the farmers are making a loss. The apple farmers are joined by the farmers growing tomatoes, potatoes, garlic, cauliflower and other crops, who are demanding legal guarantee of MSP for all crops.

Lastly, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar was recently busy inaugurating Amazon India’s Kisan Store. After crops and insurance, the government has also handed over fertilizers and seeds to the corporates. The urea that IFFCO sells at Rs 266.50 for a 45 kg bag, is now selling at Rs 199 a kg on Amazon! On Flipkart, the price of 450 grams of urea is written as Rs 130! This is shameless black marketing of fertilizers on a platform launched by the Agriculture Minister himself!

It is this cynical loot and exploitation by corporate communalism, represented by the Modi-Shah-Ambani-Adani corrupt combine, which is being valiantly combated by farmers for the last ten months, and will again be fought tooth and nail by the Bharat Bandh on September 27.

(The writer is all India president of the All India Kisan Sabha)

Related:

No confidence in the Modi regime: Kisan Sansad

Kisan Sansad urges Parliament to dismiss the AQM Bill

Kisan Sansad: Farmers reject APMC Bypass Act

 

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9 months of historic struggle, Punjab sugarcane farmers win demands

25 Aug 2021

FarmersImage Courtesy:hindustantimes.com

Thousands of farmers from different states of India are getting ready to take part in two important events of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) - the national convention of SKM on August 26-27, 2021 at the Singhu Border and the massive Muzaffarnagar rally to inaugurate Mission Uttar Pradesh-Uttarakhand on September 5. Over 1500 delegates from all over India will attend the national convention, which is being held to coincide with the completion of nine months of the historic farmers’ struggle.

The delegates will include not only farmers in large numbers, but also leaders of organisations of the working class, agricultural workers, women, youth, students, Dalits, Adivasis and other marginalised sections. The national convention will approve a plan of action as per the suggestions which come from participants for intensification and expansion of the movement all over India. This shall be announced on the concluding day.   

Punjab farmers win demands

The big victory of the sugarcane farmers of Punjab this week has set the tone for the SKM’s national convention. In the third round of talks held on August 24 between farmer union leaders and the Punjab government, the Punjab Chief Minister announced that the government will increase the sugarcane price upwards to Rs 360 per quintal. This significant increase of Rs 50 per quintal is a major achievement of the farmers' collective struggle. Sugarcane farmers of Punjab fought a collective battle over five days in Jalandhar, blocking rail and road traffic from August 20. Farmer leaders thanked all the protestors including the ones running the langars. They also thanked the people who cooperated, despite some inconvenience caused to them. They announced that the protests will end in Jalandhar, and have urged all protesting farmers to get back to the Delhi morchas (marches) and strengthen them.  

Haryana BJP-JJJ regime wages war on its own people

Haryana's BJP-JJP government was anti-farmer right from the beginning of this historic farmers' movement. It was the Haryana government which placed numerous obstacles in the path of convoys of protesting farmers who were headed to the national capital in November 2020, to present their woes and demands to the Union Government. Many illegal detentions and arrests were undertaken in Haryana by the government, along with violence through tear gas shells and water cannons unleashed on farmers headed to Delhi.

Subsequently, over the past nine months, the state government has filed cases against approximately 40,000 farmers. It is as if it is waging a war against its own people. The administration has filed 136 different cases, in addition to two cases of sedition, against protesting farmers. In these cases, the government has named 687 protestors by name, and has also filed cases against 38,000 unknown persons as accused. The Haryana government, in its latest move, has even attacked farmers protesting against the Annapurna Utsav promotion gimmicks by slapping more cases on them. And these cases are being slapped for burning empty grain bags on which anti-farmer faces of BJP and JJP leaders Modi, Khattar and Chautala have been printed! The nervousness of the Khattar government is apparent even as the farmers' movement is gaining greater momentum. It is clear that BJP and JJP leaders in the state are fearful of facing the public and being held accountable for their anti-farmer actions. 

Uttar Pradesh's BJP government is no less guilty of an anti-people stance. As the farmers' movement is getting stronger all over the northern Indian state, the Yogi Adityanath government is getting more nervous. Cases have been filed against protesting farmers in UP in the recent past. In Pilibhit, FIRs have been registered against 58 farmers by name, who participated in a peaceful black flag protest against a state minister. Farmer unions in the state are demanding the withdrawal of these cases. This is a violation of the citizens' basic right to peaceful protest. 

Innumerable peaceful black flag demonstrations by farmers against the ruling BJP’s union(central) and state Ministers, MPs, MLAs and others are continuing unabated in Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi. They are almost too numerous to recount here.

Supreme Court recognizes the famer’s right to protest

At recent hearings before the Supreme Court, comments during the proceedings before a two-judge bench, the Court recognised once again the farmers' right to protest peacefully. SKM pointed out that the blockades were not created by the farmers, but by the police and administration of multiple state governments and the Delhi Police under the control of Government of India. Farmers are not living on the streets for nearly nine months out of their wish and desire, but because blockades were put up by governments, when actually, farmers wished to go to enter Delhi to get their grievances heard. It is the government which is both unwilling to resolve the stalemate and trying to curtail the fundamental rights of the farmers to protest! The Supreme Court recently stated that the Union Government should take early steps to resolve the matter. Such a resolution will come from resuming dialogue with the SKM and fulfilling the farmers' legitimate demands. Nearly 600 farmers have been martyred in this agitation so far, and the BJP government remains unmoved about the hardships of the protestors and is not even willing to acknowledge the deaths so far. 

PM’s ‘lies’ exposed

The SKM last week exposed the Prime Minister’s lies made during his Independence Day address from the Red Fort. Farmers of the country have realised fully that they can never depend on the Prime Minister's hyped-up claims, false promises, spin-narratives, or his jumlas. The hollow claims around remunerative Minimum Support Prices (MSP) stand exposed fully, in addition to the jumla on 'doubling farmers' incomes'. The PM however continued to make a reference to "the important decision of increasing the MSP by 1.5 times" in his Independence Day Speech. MSPs have not at all been increased by 1.5 times. Besides MSPs announced for some crops are not being realised by lakhs of farmers, despite a commitment on the floor of Parliament by the Modi government. 

PM Modi chose to draw the attention of the nation to the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) during his speech. He claimed that small farmers of the country are the treasured constituency for this government and are the nation's pride. In that context, he sought to showcase PMFBY as an effort to increase the power of the small farmer in the country. The reality of PMFBY is totally different. This reality exposes the hype and false claims being made about this crop insurance scheme, right from the beginning of its launch. The story is as false and cruel as the MSP story, where again the PM made untrue claims standing right under our national flag.  

As far as PMFBY is concerned, latest figures show that private insurance companies collected in 2018-19 and 2019-20 Rs 31905.51 crore as gross premium from farmers, state governments and the Union Government while the claims paid amounted to only Rs 21937.95 crore, with a margin of around 10000 crore rupees left for the private insurance corporations to operate and profiteer, over in just two years. The insurance claims of lakhs of farmers are never settled. States like Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Telangana and West Bengal have opted out of PMFBY.

The number of farmers covered under this scheme has been falling significantly year after year. For instance, during the Kharif season, the number of farmers covered stood at 21.66 lakh in 2018, 20.05 lakh in 2019, 16.79 lakh in 2020 and only 12.31 lakh in 2021 (down by 57% over four years). The story of decline in coverage exists in the Rabi season too, year after year. The number of agricultural crops covered in 2018 Kharif was 38, which decreased to 28 crops by 2021 Kharif. In the case of horticultural crops, it fell from 57 crops in 2018 to 45 in 2021. The area insured during Kharif 2018 was 2.78 crore hectares, which saw a significant decline to 1.71 crore hectares in Kharif 2021. These numbers reveal the real story with regard to the failed PMFBY and it is shocking to see the Prime Minister make a mention of this scheme as one that has the potential to increase the power of the small farmer!  

For three years in a row, the Prime Minister has talked about ‘infrastructure’ investments to the tune of 100 lakh crore rupees, in his Independence Day speeches. In 2019, it was about 'Modern Infrastructure' and a decision to invest 100 lakh crore rupees on the same. In 2020, it was about ‘National Infrastructure Pipeline Project’, and Modi announced that 110 lakh crore would be spent on this project. In this speech, there was also a reference to the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF) announced during the first Covid pandemic lockdown, and he had claimed that the Indian Government had ‘sanctioned’ one lakh crore rupees for this. "This infrastructure will be for the welfare of the farmers and they will be able to get better prices for their produce, and will be able to sell their produce in foreign markets", Modi had claimed. Now, this year, it is the ‘Gati Shakti’ National Infrastructure Master Plan as a 'scheme of more than 100 lakh crore rupees.’ 

The statements of the Prime Minister stand exposed when we look at the reality of the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund, more than a year after the pompous announcement. AIF is a 13-year scheme incidentally with disbursements till 2023-24. As on August 6, 2021, only 4503 crore have been sanctioned under AIF for 6524 projects including ‘in-principle’ sanctions (4.5% of the so-called ‘sanction’ announced last year itself). As per a Rajya Sabha response on July 23, 2021, only 746 crore rupees have been disbursed (0.75% of the grand announcement)!   

19 Opposition parties back farmers’ struggle

On August 20, 19 opposition parties in India jointly put out a statement announcing nationwide protests from September 20 to 30, on 11 burning demands of the country. One of the demands is to "repeal the three anti-agriculture laws and compulsorily guarantee MSP to farmers". The statement says, “The historic struggle by our farmers continues into the ninth month now, with the government being obdurate in not repealing the three anti-farmer Laws and compulsorily guaranteeing and giving MSP to the farmers.  We, the undersigned, reiterate our support to the struggle launched by the farmers under the banner of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha.”

The Opposition parties’ statement further says, “The destruction of the Indian economy, with deepening recession, is pushing crores of our people into joblessness, escalating the levels of poverty and hunger. The run-away inflation and price rise is adding to people’s woes and destroying livelihoods…..The destruction of the economy is accompanied by a mega loot of our national assets; large-scale privatization of the public sector, including banks and financial services; the privatization of our mineral resources and public utilities to benefit the cronies of Prime Minister.  This will be strongly resisted.”

The statement also demands, “Stop and reverse the unbridled privatisation of the public sector; repeal the labour codes which dilute the rights of the labour and the working class. Restore the rights of the working people to protest and for wage bargaining….. Withdraw unprecedented hikes in central excise duties on petroleum and diesel, reduce prices of cooking gas and essential commodities, particularly cooking oil and control galloping inflation…..Vastly enlarge MGNREGA with increasing guarantee for 200 days with at least doubling of wages. Legislate an urban employment guarantee programme on similar lines.”

After giving the nationwide call for protests from September 20 to 30, the statement ends by saying, “We, the leaders of nineteen Opposition Parties, call upon the people of India to rise to the occasion to defend our secular, democratic Republican order with all our might.  Save India today, so that we can change it for the better tomorrow.”

*The writer is all India president of the All India Kisan Sabha.

Related:

No confidence in the Modi regime: Kisan Sansad
Kisan Sansad urges Parliament to dismiss the AQM Bill
Mahapanchayats and hate panchayats are not the same
Kisan Sansad: Farmers reject APMC Bypass Act

 

9 months of historic struggle, Punjab sugarcane farmers win demands

FarmersImage Courtesy:hindustantimes.com

Thousands of farmers from different states of India are getting ready to take part in two important events of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) - the national convention of SKM on August 26-27, 2021 at the Singhu Border and the massive Muzaffarnagar rally to inaugurate Mission Uttar Pradesh-Uttarakhand on September 5. Over 1500 delegates from all over India will attend the national convention, which is being held to coincide with the completion of nine months of the historic farmers’ struggle.

The delegates will include not only farmers in large numbers, but also leaders of organisations of the working class, agricultural workers, women, youth, students, Dalits, Adivasis and other marginalised sections. The national convention will approve a plan of action as per the suggestions which come from participants for intensification and expansion of the movement all over India. This shall be announced on the concluding day.   

Punjab farmers win demands

The big victory of the sugarcane farmers of Punjab this week has set the tone for the SKM’s national convention. In the third round of talks held on August 24 between farmer union leaders and the Punjab government, the Punjab Chief Minister announced that the government will increase the sugarcane price upwards to Rs 360 per quintal. This significant increase of Rs 50 per quintal is a major achievement of the farmers' collective struggle. Sugarcane farmers of Punjab fought a collective battle over five days in Jalandhar, blocking rail and road traffic from August 20. Farmer leaders thanked all the protestors including the ones running the langars. They also thanked the people who cooperated, despite some inconvenience caused to them. They announced that the protests will end in Jalandhar, and have urged all protesting farmers to get back to the Delhi morchas (marches) and strengthen them.  

Haryana BJP-JJJ regime wages war on its own people

Haryana's BJP-JJP government was anti-farmer right from the beginning of this historic farmers' movement. It was the Haryana government which placed numerous obstacles in the path of convoys of protesting farmers who were headed to the national capital in November 2020, to present their woes and demands to the Union Government. Many illegal detentions and arrests were undertaken in Haryana by the government, along with violence through tear gas shells and water cannons unleashed on farmers headed to Delhi.

Subsequently, over the past nine months, the state government has filed cases against approximately 40,000 farmers. It is as if it is waging a war against its own people. The administration has filed 136 different cases, in addition to two cases of sedition, against protesting farmers. In these cases, the government has named 687 protestors by name, and has also filed cases against 38,000 unknown persons as accused. The Haryana government, in its latest move, has even attacked farmers protesting against the Annapurna Utsav promotion gimmicks by slapping more cases on them. And these cases are being slapped for burning empty grain bags on which anti-farmer faces of BJP and JJP leaders Modi, Khattar and Chautala have been printed! The nervousness of the Khattar government is apparent even as the farmers' movement is gaining greater momentum. It is clear that BJP and JJP leaders in the state are fearful of facing the public and being held accountable for their anti-farmer actions. 

Uttar Pradesh's BJP government is no less guilty of an anti-people stance. As the farmers' movement is getting stronger all over the northern Indian state, the Yogi Adityanath government is getting more nervous. Cases have been filed against protesting farmers in UP in the recent past. In Pilibhit, FIRs have been registered against 58 farmers by name, who participated in a peaceful black flag protest against a state minister. Farmer unions in the state are demanding the withdrawal of these cases. This is a violation of the citizens' basic right to peaceful protest. 

Innumerable peaceful black flag demonstrations by farmers against the ruling BJP’s union(central) and state Ministers, MPs, MLAs and others are continuing unabated in Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi. They are almost too numerous to recount here.

Supreme Court recognizes the famer’s right to protest

At recent hearings before the Supreme Court, comments during the proceedings before a two-judge bench, the Court recognised once again the farmers' right to protest peacefully. SKM pointed out that the blockades were not created by the farmers, but by the police and administration of multiple state governments and the Delhi Police under the control of Government of India. Farmers are not living on the streets for nearly nine months out of their wish and desire, but because blockades were put up by governments, when actually, farmers wished to go to enter Delhi to get their grievances heard. It is the government which is both unwilling to resolve the stalemate and trying to curtail the fundamental rights of the farmers to protest! The Supreme Court recently stated that the Union Government should take early steps to resolve the matter. Such a resolution will come from resuming dialogue with the SKM and fulfilling the farmers' legitimate demands. Nearly 600 farmers have been martyred in this agitation so far, and the BJP government remains unmoved about the hardships of the protestors and is not even willing to acknowledge the deaths so far. 

PM’s ‘lies’ exposed

The SKM last week exposed the Prime Minister’s lies made during his Independence Day address from the Red Fort. Farmers of the country have realised fully that they can never depend on the Prime Minister's hyped-up claims, false promises, spin-narratives, or his jumlas. The hollow claims around remunerative Minimum Support Prices (MSP) stand exposed fully, in addition to the jumla on 'doubling farmers' incomes'. The PM however continued to make a reference to "the important decision of increasing the MSP by 1.5 times" in his Independence Day Speech. MSPs have not at all been increased by 1.5 times. Besides MSPs announced for some crops are not being realised by lakhs of farmers, despite a commitment on the floor of Parliament by the Modi government. 

PM Modi chose to draw the attention of the nation to the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) during his speech. He claimed that small farmers of the country are the treasured constituency for this government and are the nation's pride. In that context, he sought to showcase PMFBY as an effort to increase the power of the small farmer in the country. The reality of PMFBY is totally different. This reality exposes the hype and false claims being made about this crop insurance scheme, right from the beginning of its launch. The story is as false and cruel as the MSP story, where again the PM made untrue claims standing right under our national flag.  

As far as PMFBY is concerned, latest figures show that private insurance companies collected in 2018-19 and 2019-20 Rs 31905.51 crore as gross premium from farmers, state governments and the Union Government while the claims paid amounted to only Rs 21937.95 crore, with a margin of around 10000 crore rupees left for the private insurance corporations to operate and profiteer, over in just two years. The insurance claims of lakhs of farmers are never settled. States like Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Telangana and West Bengal have opted out of PMFBY.

The number of farmers covered under this scheme has been falling significantly year after year. For instance, during the Kharif season, the number of farmers covered stood at 21.66 lakh in 2018, 20.05 lakh in 2019, 16.79 lakh in 2020 and only 12.31 lakh in 2021 (down by 57% over four years). The story of decline in coverage exists in the Rabi season too, year after year. The number of agricultural crops covered in 2018 Kharif was 38, which decreased to 28 crops by 2021 Kharif. In the case of horticultural crops, it fell from 57 crops in 2018 to 45 in 2021. The area insured during Kharif 2018 was 2.78 crore hectares, which saw a significant decline to 1.71 crore hectares in Kharif 2021. These numbers reveal the real story with regard to the failed PMFBY and it is shocking to see the Prime Minister make a mention of this scheme as one that has the potential to increase the power of the small farmer!  

For three years in a row, the Prime Minister has talked about ‘infrastructure’ investments to the tune of 100 lakh crore rupees, in his Independence Day speeches. In 2019, it was about 'Modern Infrastructure' and a decision to invest 100 lakh crore rupees on the same. In 2020, it was about ‘National Infrastructure Pipeline Project’, and Modi announced that 110 lakh crore would be spent on this project. In this speech, there was also a reference to the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF) announced during the first Covid pandemic lockdown, and he had claimed that the Indian Government had ‘sanctioned’ one lakh crore rupees for this. "This infrastructure will be for the welfare of the farmers and they will be able to get better prices for their produce, and will be able to sell their produce in foreign markets", Modi had claimed. Now, this year, it is the ‘Gati Shakti’ National Infrastructure Master Plan as a 'scheme of more than 100 lakh crore rupees.’ 

The statements of the Prime Minister stand exposed when we look at the reality of the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund, more than a year after the pompous announcement. AIF is a 13-year scheme incidentally with disbursements till 2023-24. As on August 6, 2021, only 4503 crore have been sanctioned under AIF for 6524 projects including ‘in-principle’ sanctions (4.5% of the so-called ‘sanction’ announced last year itself). As per a Rajya Sabha response on July 23, 2021, only 746 crore rupees have been disbursed (0.75% of the grand announcement)!   

19 Opposition parties back farmers’ struggle

On August 20, 19 opposition parties in India jointly put out a statement announcing nationwide protests from September 20 to 30, on 11 burning demands of the country. One of the demands is to "repeal the three anti-agriculture laws and compulsorily guarantee MSP to farmers". The statement says, “The historic struggle by our farmers continues into the ninth month now, with the government being obdurate in not repealing the three anti-farmer Laws and compulsorily guaranteeing and giving MSP to the farmers.  We, the undersigned, reiterate our support to the struggle launched by the farmers under the banner of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha.”

The Opposition parties’ statement further says, “The destruction of the Indian economy, with deepening recession, is pushing crores of our people into joblessness, escalating the levels of poverty and hunger. The run-away inflation and price rise is adding to people’s woes and destroying livelihoods…..The destruction of the economy is accompanied by a mega loot of our national assets; large-scale privatization of the public sector, including banks and financial services; the privatization of our mineral resources and public utilities to benefit the cronies of Prime Minister.  This will be strongly resisted.”

The statement also demands, “Stop and reverse the unbridled privatisation of the public sector; repeal the labour codes which dilute the rights of the labour and the working class. Restore the rights of the working people to protest and for wage bargaining….. Withdraw unprecedented hikes in central excise duties on petroleum and diesel, reduce prices of cooking gas and essential commodities, particularly cooking oil and control galloping inflation…..Vastly enlarge MGNREGA with increasing guarantee for 200 days with at least doubling of wages. Legislate an urban employment guarantee programme on similar lines.”

After giving the nationwide call for protests from September 20 to 30, the statement ends by saying, “We, the leaders of nineteen Opposition Parties, call upon the people of India to rise to the occasion to defend our secular, democratic Republican order with all our might.  Save India today, so that we can change it for the better tomorrow.”

*The writer is all India president of the All India Kisan Sabha.

Related:

No confidence in the Modi regime: Kisan Sansad
Kisan Sansad urges Parliament to dismiss the AQM Bill
Mahapanchayats and hate panchayats are not the same
Kisan Sansad: Farmers reject APMC Bypass Act

 

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No confidence in the Modi regime: Kisan Sansad

Hundreds of thousands hit the streets during Aug 9 the farmers’ struggle; Kisan Sansad adopts a ‘No Confidence’ Motion against the Modi regime

13 Aug 2021

Kisan sansad

August 9, 2021, was a truly memorable day. The vibrancy and determination of the Left movement was on full display throughout India. Lakhs of people were mobilised by Left class and mass fronts AIKS, CITU, AIAWU, AIDWA, DYFI, SFI, and also by other progressive forces, in hundreds of districts in 25 states across India on the slogan of 'Save India’ from Corporate Hindutva, comprising the bankrupt BJP-RSS regime and its unholy alliance with the rapacious corporate lobby. 79 years ago on the same day in 1942, the country had reverberated on the slogan of ‘Quit India’ given by Mahatma Gandhi against the hated British imperialist rulers.

The massive action evoked memories of the August 9 nationwide Jail Bharo struggle three years ago in 2018, at the joint call of the CITU, AIKS and AIAWU. Over seven lakh people had then courted arrest. This was immediately followed by the massive two lakh strong Delhi rally to Parliament by these three class organisations on September 5, 2018. Red flags dominated the capital  that day.

Unprecedented protest

From Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi to the North, to Kerala, Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana to the South; from Tripura, Assam, West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha to the East, to Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra to the West; and Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in the centre; there were huge protest actions everywhere. They took myriad forms of Jail Bharo, Chakka Jaam, gherao of government offices, rallies, demonstrations and dharnas.

Along with workers, peasants and agricultural labourers, women, youth and students hailing from all religions, castes and creeds thronged these massive protests. They squarely attacked the abysmal failure of the corporate-backed fascistic and communal Modi government on all fronts. Hundreds of photos of the August 9 actions are still pouring in from all over the country.

Major demands of the struggle

The major demands of this struggle were the repeal of the three anti-people Farm Laws and the four anti-worker Labour Codes; withdrawal of the Electricity Amendment Bill; central law to guarantee procurement at an MSP of C2+50% for all crops; end to privatisation and disinvestment of the public sector and selling off the country to corporates; immediate slashing of the massive and continuing price hikes of diesel, petrol, gas, cooking oil and all other essential commodities; increase the budget allocation on MGNREGA to ensure minimum 200 days work at Rs 600 per day; enact Urban Employment Guarantee Scheme; compensate job and wage losses during the pandemic; register all migrant and unorganised sector workers; address loss of jobs and livelihood issues and create more jobs; fill up all vacancies in government and public sector immediately; ensure minimum wages and social security and pension to all workers; cash transfer of Rs 7500 per month for all non income tax paying families; 10 kg free food grains per person per month for the entire period of the pandemic; ensure immediate free and universal vaccination to all with priority to frontline workers; ramp up vaccine production and bring the distribution under government regulation to ensure universal free vaccination within a definite time frame; scrap the pro corporate vaccination policy; allocate 6 per cent of GDP for health sector; strengthen the public health system and the health infrastructure to ensure adequate hospital beds, oxygen and other medical facilities to meet the Covid surge; strengthen public health infrastructure including recruiting the necessary health personnel; ensure that non-Covid patients get effective treatment in government hospitals; ensure availability of protective gear, equipments, wage rise etc for all health and frontline workers and those engaged in pandemic-management work including ASHAs and Anganwadi employees along with comprehensive insurance coverage for them all; withdraw draconian EDSO; and scrap new education policy and ensure good education to all students in the pandemic.

AIKS-led Tamin Nadu farmers reach Delhi

A powerful team of more than 1,000 famers hailing from Tamil Nadu, including women farmers, under the banner of the AIKS, holding red flags and raising slogans reached New Delhi on August 5. They had travelled a distance of nearly 3,000 Km by train to reach Delhi. At Delhi they were stopped on their way to Parliament by the police, where they held a public meeting. The protest was organised by the Tamilnadu state unit of the AIKS, to strengthen the all India struggle against the three Farm Laws and for a central law to guarantee a fair MSP.

Their state specific issues were also raised and a delegation submitted a memorandum to the President of India through his office. AIKS General Secretary Hannan Mollah, AIKS Vice President K Balakrishnan, General Secretary of Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam (AIKS Tamil Nadu) P Shanmugam, President V Subramani, Treasurer K Perumal and President of the All India Sugarcane Farmers Federation D Raveendran were part of the delegation.

The public meeting was addressed by AIKS General Secretary Hannan Mollah, President Ashok Dhawale, Vice President K Balakrishnan, MP from Madurai S Venkatesan, MP from Coimbatore P R Natarajan, MP from Rajya Sabha Dr V Sivadasan, AIKS Joint Secretaries Vijoo Krishnan, N K Shukla and Badal Saroj, Finance Secretary P Krishnaprasad, AIAWU General Secretary B Venkat, Joint Secretary Vikram Singh, CITU Secretary Karumalaiyan, and the above TN leaders.

The AIKS team from Tami Nadu stayed for a week at the protest site at the Singhu border and joined hands with the farmers from Punjab and Haryana who are there for the last eight and a half months. On August 9, an impressive human chain and rally of peasants with the slogan of 'Save India' was organised by the AIKS with hundreds of red flags at the Singhu border.

Kisan Sansad concludes, No Confidence in Modi regime

On its 13th and concluding day on August 9, the all-women Kisan Parliament passed a unanimous resolution expressing no confidence in the BJP led government. This special session gave a clarion call to the people to oust the corporates from agriculture (Corporates Kheti Chhodo) and asked the BJP government to quit (Modi Sarkar Gaddi Chhodo) as it has failed the people by pursuing anti-farmer, anti-worker, anti-people, pro-corporate, authoritarian and communal policies ever since it came to power in 2014.

The no-confidence motion was tabled in the House on August 6 and it was debated for two days. It was based on the fact that the farmers' demands were not being met, despite more than eight months of peaceful protests by lakhs of farmers across the country. Speakers launched a scathing attack on the BJP government which has lost the confidence of the people. During the pandemic it bulldozed the anti-farmer and anti-worker laws through Parliament. As many as 90 women speakers expressed their views on the motion.

The No Confidence motion pointed out that the Modi government had created a hoax of doubling farmers' incomes, and had done nothing concrete towards this. The motion also mentioned that the BJP and the Prime Minister have reneged on their MSP related promises time and time again, including on making a C2+50% MSP a reality for all farmers. The Government has also cheated farmers on the much-hyped Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, where government expenditure increased, farmers coverage decreased and corporations’ superprofits escalated. On the import-export front, India's exports have declined while imports have increased. When it comes to government support to farmers during natural calamities, it has been a massive failure.

Several issues of serious concern of ordinary citizens were also raised during the debate on the No Confidence Motion - these included unaffordable and unjustified hike in fuel prices affecting all ordinary citizens of the country, collapse of an under-invested and unprepared healthcare system in the Covid pandemic, unconscionable spying on citizens and elected leaders by the government putting our democracy into jeopardy, serious human rights violations in the name of sedition and other archaic, false charges on defenders of democracy in the country, foisting anti-worker laws in the country to protect big capital, and several anti-farmer measures by the government. Kisan Parliamentarians raised numerous issues concerning their livelihoods and violation of democratic values and basic human rights, while participating in the debate.

The Mahila Kisan Sansad on August 9 also deliberated on the issues of women farmers in India. August 9 was International Indigenous People's Day too. Adivasi farmers are an important group of farmers in India, and the MSP legal guarantee demand of the farmers' movement seeks to secure guaranteed MSP for forest produce also, in addition to other commodities. Adivasis in India are also waging struggles to uphold resource rights over various natural resources including land and forests. The Kisan Sansad fully supported all their struggles.

Some additional suggestions in the resolution on MSP, passed on July 5, were placed before the House and unanimously passed. The House also resolved to adjourn the Kisan Parliament sine die in view of the preparations for the next SKM programmes i.e. 15th August Independence Day to be celebrated as Kisan Majdoor Azaadi Sangram Divas and Mission UP-Uttarakhand.     

The house also passed a resolution hailing the performance of our players in the Tokyo Olympic Games by winning Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals for the country.

Adopts a MSP resolution

Earlier, on August 4 and 5, the Kisan Sansad discussed the current situation with regard to cost of production calculations by the Government of India wherein several costs are being suppressed. The Kisan Sansad strongly condemned the fact that wrong cost concepts are being used by the Modi government, in a deceitful manner, for MSP declaration. Instead of using a C2+50% formula, the Government is using the A2+FL (Family Labour) formula, flouting the recommendation of the Swaminathan Commission. There are many agricultural commodities which do not have any MSP declared, while the MSP that is declared is meaningless without mechanisms for guaranteeing such an MSP to every farmer. 

The Kisan Sansad passed a resolution directing the Government of India to immediately table a Bill that will fully address the current injustice in terms of cost calculations, MSP formula and guaranteed MSP operationalisation. Such a statute should cover all agricultural commodities and all farmers. It also asked for implementation of the many progressive recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission. The operative part of the resolution of August 5 was as follows:

A. The Government of India is directed to introduce a Bill that incorporates the following essential elements immediately and the Indian Parliament is directed to pass the same:-

- which will confer remunerative prices of at least 50% over comprehensive cost of production C2 as recommended by the National Farmers Commission, in addition to some agricultural commodities getting MSP at more than C2+50% to address skewed cropping patterns; 

- which will also address cost components that are being miscalculated and suppressed at this point of time, as well as improve the surveys which arrive at cost estimations as per Ramesh Chand Committee report; 

- that such a statute incorporate institutional architecture required for making remunerative MSP a reality for all farmers; 

B. the Government of India and state governments where required, are directed to implement immediately progressive recommendations in the National Farmers' Commission reports (Swaminathan Commission) related to operationalisation of the definition of 'Farmer', prevention of acquisition of agricultural land, on provision of pensions to all farmers, on providing universal, effective and adequate crop insurance and disaster compensation to all farmers for all kinds of risks etc.

Opposition MPs visit Kisan Sansad

On August 6, MPs of different Opposition political parties visited the Kisan Sansad. They watched and listened to the proceedings of the Kisan Sansad in a specially arranged Visitors' Gallery. These MPs said in their media bytes that they are extending their full support to the protesting farmers on their demands. MPs belonging to various parties like Congress, DMK, RJD, CPI(M), CPI, RSP, Shiv Sena, TMC, IUML etc. visited the Kisan Sansad. The Speaker of the Kisan Sansad thanked the Opposition MPs of India's Parliament for their support.   

On the other hand, the Kisan Sansad also noted that parties like BJD, TRS, YSRCP, AIADMK, TDP and JD(U) have been participating against farmers in Parliamentary debates on various Bills. SKM warned them against their anti-people positions.

Independence Day on August 15 will be marked as Kisan Mazdoor Azaadi Sangram Diwas, and SKM has given a call to all its constituents to mark the day with tiranga marches. On that day, tractor/motorcycle/cycle/cart marches will be taken out to tehsil/block/district headquarters, or to the nearest kisan morchas by farmers and workers. All vehicles will fly the National Flag. 

*The writer is all India president of the All India Kisan Sabha.

 

Related:

Kisan Sansad urges Parliament to dismiss the AQM Bill

Kisan Sansad: Farmers reject APMC Bypass Act

No confidence in the Modi regime: Kisan Sansad

Hundreds of thousands hit the streets during Aug 9 the farmers’ struggle; Kisan Sansad adopts a ‘No Confidence’ Motion against the Modi regime

Kisan sansad

August 9, 2021, was a truly memorable day. The vibrancy and determination of the Left movement was on full display throughout India. Lakhs of people were mobilised by Left class and mass fronts AIKS, CITU, AIAWU, AIDWA, DYFI, SFI, and also by other progressive forces, in hundreds of districts in 25 states across India on the slogan of 'Save India’ from Corporate Hindutva, comprising the bankrupt BJP-RSS regime and its unholy alliance with the rapacious corporate lobby. 79 years ago on the same day in 1942, the country had reverberated on the slogan of ‘Quit India’ given by Mahatma Gandhi against the hated British imperialist rulers.

The massive action evoked memories of the August 9 nationwide Jail Bharo struggle three years ago in 2018, at the joint call of the CITU, AIKS and AIAWU. Over seven lakh people had then courted arrest. This was immediately followed by the massive two lakh strong Delhi rally to Parliament by these three class organisations on September 5, 2018. Red flags dominated the capital  that day.

Unprecedented protest

From Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi to the North, to Kerala, Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana to the South; from Tripura, Assam, West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha to the East, to Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra to the West; and Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in the centre; there were huge protest actions everywhere. They took myriad forms of Jail Bharo, Chakka Jaam, gherao of government offices, rallies, demonstrations and dharnas.

Along with workers, peasants and agricultural labourers, women, youth and students hailing from all religions, castes and creeds thronged these massive protests. They squarely attacked the abysmal failure of the corporate-backed fascistic and communal Modi government on all fronts. Hundreds of photos of the August 9 actions are still pouring in from all over the country.

Major demands of the struggle

The major demands of this struggle were the repeal of the three anti-people Farm Laws and the four anti-worker Labour Codes; withdrawal of the Electricity Amendment Bill; central law to guarantee procurement at an MSP of C2+50% for all crops; end to privatisation and disinvestment of the public sector and selling off the country to corporates; immediate slashing of the massive and continuing price hikes of diesel, petrol, gas, cooking oil and all other essential commodities; increase the budget allocation on MGNREGA to ensure minimum 200 days work at Rs 600 per day; enact Urban Employment Guarantee Scheme; compensate job and wage losses during the pandemic; register all migrant and unorganised sector workers; address loss of jobs and livelihood issues and create more jobs; fill up all vacancies in government and public sector immediately; ensure minimum wages and social security and pension to all workers; cash transfer of Rs 7500 per month for all non income tax paying families; 10 kg free food grains per person per month for the entire period of the pandemic; ensure immediate free and universal vaccination to all with priority to frontline workers; ramp up vaccine production and bring the distribution under government regulation to ensure universal free vaccination within a definite time frame; scrap the pro corporate vaccination policy; allocate 6 per cent of GDP for health sector; strengthen the public health system and the health infrastructure to ensure adequate hospital beds, oxygen and other medical facilities to meet the Covid surge; strengthen public health infrastructure including recruiting the necessary health personnel; ensure that non-Covid patients get effective treatment in government hospitals; ensure availability of protective gear, equipments, wage rise etc for all health and frontline workers and those engaged in pandemic-management work including ASHAs and Anganwadi employees along with comprehensive insurance coverage for them all; withdraw draconian EDSO; and scrap new education policy and ensure good education to all students in the pandemic.

AIKS-led Tamin Nadu farmers reach Delhi

A powerful team of more than 1,000 famers hailing from Tamil Nadu, including women farmers, under the banner of the AIKS, holding red flags and raising slogans reached New Delhi on August 5. They had travelled a distance of nearly 3,000 Km by train to reach Delhi. At Delhi they were stopped on their way to Parliament by the police, where they held a public meeting. The protest was organised by the Tamilnadu state unit of the AIKS, to strengthen the all India struggle against the three Farm Laws and for a central law to guarantee a fair MSP.

Their state specific issues were also raised and a delegation submitted a memorandum to the President of India through his office. AIKS General Secretary Hannan Mollah, AIKS Vice President K Balakrishnan, General Secretary of Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam (AIKS Tamil Nadu) P Shanmugam, President V Subramani, Treasurer K Perumal and President of the All India Sugarcane Farmers Federation D Raveendran were part of the delegation.

The public meeting was addressed by AIKS General Secretary Hannan Mollah, President Ashok Dhawale, Vice President K Balakrishnan, MP from Madurai S Venkatesan, MP from Coimbatore P R Natarajan, MP from Rajya Sabha Dr V Sivadasan, AIKS Joint Secretaries Vijoo Krishnan, N K Shukla and Badal Saroj, Finance Secretary P Krishnaprasad, AIAWU General Secretary B Venkat, Joint Secretary Vikram Singh, CITU Secretary Karumalaiyan, and the above TN leaders.

The AIKS team from Tami Nadu stayed for a week at the protest site at the Singhu border and joined hands with the farmers from Punjab and Haryana who are there for the last eight and a half months. On August 9, an impressive human chain and rally of peasants with the slogan of 'Save India' was organised by the AIKS with hundreds of red flags at the Singhu border.

Kisan Sansad concludes, No Confidence in Modi regime

On its 13th and concluding day on August 9, the all-women Kisan Parliament passed a unanimous resolution expressing no confidence in the BJP led government. This special session gave a clarion call to the people to oust the corporates from agriculture (Corporates Kheti Chhodo) and asked the BJP government to quit (Modi Sarkar Gaddi Chhodo) as it has failed the people by pursuing anti-farmer, anti-worker, anti-people, pro-corporate, authoritarian and communal policies ever since it came to power in 2014.

The no-confidence motion was tabled in the House on August 6 and it was debated for two days. It was based on the fact that the farmers' demands were not being met, despite more than eight months of peaceful protests by lakhs of farmers across the country. Speakers launched a scathing attack on the BJP government which has lost the confidence of the people. During the pandemic it bulldozed the anti-farmer and anti-worker laws through Parliament. As many as 90 women speakers expressed their views on the motion.

The No Confidence motion pointed out that the Modi government had created a hoax of doubling farmers' incomes, and had done nothing concrete towards this. The motion also mentioned that the BJP and the Prime Minister have reneged on their MSP related promises time and time again, including on making a C2+50% MSP a reality for all farmers. The Government has also cheated farmers on the much-hyped Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, where government expenditure increased, farmers coverage decreased and corporations’ superprofits escalated. On the import-export front, India's exports have declined while imports have increased. When it comes to government support to farmers during natural calamities, it has been a massive failure.

Several issues of serious concern of ordinary citizens were also raised during the debate on the No Confidence Motion - these included unaffordable and unjustified hike in fuel prices affecting all ordinary citizens of the country, collapse of an under-invested and unprepared healthcare system in the Covid pandemic, unconscionable spying on citizens and elected leaders by the government putting our democracy into jeopardy, serious human rights violations in the name of sedition and other archaic, false charges on defenders of democracy in the country, foisting anti-worker laws in the country to protect big capital, and several anti-farmer measures by the government. Kisan Parliamentarians raised numerous issues concerning their livelihoods and violation of democratic values and basic human rights, while participating in the debate.

The Mahila Kisan Sansad on August 9 also deliberated on the issues of women farmers in India. August 9 was International Indigenous People's Day too. Adivasi farmers are an important group of farmers in India, and the MSP legal guarantee demand of the farmers' movement seeks to secure guaranteed MSP for forest produce also, in addition to other commodities. Adivasis in India are also waging struggles to uphold resource rights over various natural resources including land and forests. The Kisan Sansad fully supported all their struggles.

Some additional suggestions in the resolution on MSP, passed on July 5, were placed before the House and unanimously passed. The House also resolved to adjourn the Kisan Parliament sine die in view of the preparations for the next SKM programmes i.e. 15th August Independence Day to be celebrated as Kisan Majdoor Azaadi Sangram Divas and Mission UP-Uttarakhand.     

The house also passed a resolution hailing the performance of our players in the Tokyo Olympic Games by winning Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals for the country.

Adopts a MSP resolution

Earlier, on August 4 and 5, the Kisan Sansad discussed the current situation with regard to cost of production calculations by the Government of India wherein several costs are being suppressed. The Kisan Sansad strongly condemned the fact that wrong cost concepts are being used by the Modi government, in a deceitful manner, for MSP declaration. Instead of using a C2+50% formula, the Government is using the A2+FL (Family Labour) formula, flouting the recommendation of the Swaminathan Commission. There are many agricultural commodities which do not have any MSP declared, while the MSP that is declared is meaningless without mechanisms for guaranteeing such an MSP to every farmer. 

The Kisan Sansad passed a resolution directing the Government of India to immediately table a Bill that will fully address the current injustice in terms of cost calculations, MSP formula and guaranteed MSP operationalisation. Such a statute should cover all agricultural commodities and all farmers. It also asked for implementation of the many progressive recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission. The operative part of the resolution of August 5 was as follows:

A. The Government of India is directed to introduce a Bill that incorporates the following essential elements immediately and the Indian Parliament is directed to pass the same:-

- which will confer remunerative prices of at least 50% over comprehensive cost of production C2 as recommended by the National Farmers Commission, in addition to some agricultural commodities getting MSP at more than C2+50% to address skewed cropping patterns; 

- which will also address cost components that are being miscalculated and suppressed at this point of time, as well as improve the surveys which arrive at cost estimations as per Ramesh Chand Committee report; 

- that such a statute incorporate institutional architecture required for making remunerative MSP a reality for all farmers; 

B. the Government of India and state governments where required, are directed to implement immediately progressive recommendations in the National Farmers' Commission reports (Swaminathan Commission) related to operationalisation of the definition of 'Farmer', prevention of acquisition of agricultural land, on provision of pensions to all farmers, on providing universal, effective and adequate crop insurance and disaster compensation to all farmers for all kinds of risks etc.

Opposition MPs visit Kisan Sansad

On August 6, MPs of different Opposition political parties visited the Kisan Sansad. They watched and listened to the proceedings of the Kisan Sansad in a specially arranged Visitors' Gallery. These MPs said in their media bytes that they are extending their full support to the protesting farmers on their demands. MPs belonging to various parties like Congress, DMK, RJD, CPI(M), CPI, RSP, Shiv Sena, TMC, IUML etc. visited the Kisan Sansad. The Speaker of the Kisan Sansad thanked the Opposition MPs of India's Parliament for their support.   

On the other hand, the Kisan Sansad also noted that parties like BJD, TRS, YSRCP, AIADMK, TDP and JD(U) have been participating against farmers in Parliamentary debates on various Bills. SKM warned them against their anti-people positions.

Independence Day on August 15 will be marked as Kisan Mazdoor Azaadi Sangram Diwas, and SKM has given a call to all its constituents to mark the day with tiranga marches. On that day, tractor/motorcycle/cycle/cart marches will be taken out to tehsil/block/district headquarters, or to the nearest kisan morchas by farmers and workers. All vehicles will fly the National Flag. 

*The writer is all India president of the All India Kisan Sabha.

 

Related:

Kisan Sansad urges Parliament to dismiss the AQM Bill

Kisan Sansad: Farmers reject APMC Bypass Act

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