The Peasant Question Returns
The eminent scholar of Peasant Studies and editor of the seminal book, Late Marx and the Russian Road: Marx and the 'peripheries of capitalism' (Monthly Review Press, New York, 1983), Teodor Shanin discussed in the book how Marx seriously engaged himself with exploring the revolutionary tradition of Russian populism in the later part of his life, in search of an alternative path against capitalist development. Shanin observed: "To the revolutionary populist the peasant commune was the proof of the collectivist tradition of the majority of Russian people, which stayed alive in spite of its suppression by the state".

We know that comparing 19th century Russia with 21st century India would be anachronistic. But, the ongoing farmer protests in India against the neo-liberal agricultural policies of the State and massive participation of the peasants/farmers in the movement amply testify that the peasant question has returned back to contemporary Indian history unfolding before our eyes.

One can question whether classical category of the 'peasant movement' can be used in characterizing the farmers' movement in contemporary India. Our reply to that hypothetical scholarly question in the present moment of the struggle would be the classic statement of Karl Marx: "The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it".
Arup Kumar Sen, Kolkata

Vinod Mishra
December 18, 2020 marks the twenty second death anniversary of Vinod Mishra. Since 1999 we have been observing this day as 'Sankalp Divas' or a day of pledge taking for the entire party to renew its revolutionary resolve. This year we are observing the day in the midst of an unprecedented farmers' movement which has every potential to grow into a powerful people's resistance against growing corporate domination (populary being described as Adani-Ambani-Company Raj') and fascist takeover of India. The encouraging gains made by the party in the just concluded Bihar elections have placed us in a better position to increase our role and meet the challenges of freeing India from the fascist danger. We must prepare ourselves individually and collectively to rise to the occasion.

Vinod Mishra had led the party to its emergence as an all India centre of revolutionary communists leading a comprehensive network of mass organisations and a whole range of mass political initiatives including participation in elections. The increased electoral presence of the party provides a live expression to the elevation of our assertion from securing basic human dignity of the most oppressed people to winning electoral victories on the strength of growing struggles for people's rights. VM encouraged us to grow into a big Communist Party without ever weakening the core ideological moorings, robust progressive outlook and vibrant democratic culture and organisational cohesion of a revolutionary communist party. As we take up the challenge of realising the party's growth potential, we must never lower our guard on these cardinal characteristics of our party.

All through the 1990s VM sensitised the party about the growing danger of communal fascism. He saw the Bathanitola massacre in a new light, emphasising the unmistakable signs of feudal violence growing into a communal fascist assault on the poor and a virulent attack on the revolutionary Left. It helped the party stay alert and determined in the battle against the BJP and the Sangh brigade even as we confronted the RJD government in Bihar and subsequently the UPA government at the Centre. Today, saving India and India's democracy from the Modi regime's fascist aggression has become the most decisive challenge for the Left and other opposition forces. This is why the Bihar election victories of our party have received such appreciation across the country. This is why our appeal to the left-liberal camp of West Bengal to stop the BJP from capturing power has been so widely welcomed in West Bengal.

The fascist offensive of the Modi government and the economic, social and political disasters facing the country have generated powerful protests and mass opposition. Protests by eminent writers and other cultural personalities against mob lynching; student awakening in the wake of the institutional murder of Rohith Vemula that have now grown into a massive assertion of young India for education, employment and democracy; the unprecedented mass opposition to the NRC-NPR-CAA package with Muslim women, university students and civil society activists in the forefront; the farmers' movement that started acquiring countrywide shape following the Mandsaur massacre and has now assumed the proportions of a historic upsurge; powerful periodic struggles of women and various sections of workers'- mass resistance has continued to grow defying severe repression and fascist violence and hate and disinformation campaign. While Modi managed to win a second term in the wake of Pulwama, subsequent Assembly elections in Jharkhand and Bihar have clearly showed the potential to carry this resistance into the electoral arena. In the forthcoming round of Assembly elections all attempts must be made to oust the BJP from power in Assam, stop it from winning power in West Bengal and making inroads in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.
Central Committee
Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist)

'Peasants have right to Protest'
PCC CPIML is not surprised to see that the power-that-be which is bent on dismantling the institutions of constitutional democracy and its structural foundation of limited federalism has shamelessly sided with the evil design of the corporate sharks to grab the control of the farmer's land through contract farming and to do away with the MSP regime and state regulation. The new laws which were passed in a hurry manipulating all constitutional norms for a corporate-controlled so called open market where the farmers especially the small farmers are destined to doom with their weak bargaining power in market will ultimately jeopardise food security of the Indian masses through dismantling of the Government procurement system of food-grains and public distribution thereon and concomitant inflation of essential commodities.

At present only 6% of Indian peasantry is benefited in Government procurement under Minimum Support Price (MSP) and the rests are in dire straits due to abysmally low selling price of their produces. The Government instead of fulfilling the longstanding demands of the farmers for extending and raising MSP is hell bent on making the MSP regime ineffective to pander the corporate giants by allowing them to invest directly through contract farming and pushing the farmers in receiving end for selling their produces on below-value prices.

The peasants of Haryana, Western U.P have already united with the valiant fight of the Punjab farmers in their march to New Delhi and the movement has grabbed the imagination of the entire peasant community of India and has the potential to spread across the country like a prairie fire. All the class-organisations of peasant community viz. capitalist landlord, rich peasant, small peasants and agricultural workers, are united in a single platform to challenge the Government policy of weakening the structural base of the Indian independent economic foundation further by ensuring corporate control over Indian agriculture and this delineates a historic moment in Indian socio-political landscape. PCC CPIML hopes that the working class will grab this historic moment to launch the struggle to build the broadest unity of the Indian masses for a radical change for a new democratic India in solidarity with their revolutionary class ally of agricultural workers and small peasants.
Subhash Deb, PCC, CPI-ML

Vol. 53, No. 28, Jan 10 - 16, 2021