100 Days Later

March 5 marked the 100th Day of the sit-in of nearly half a million farmers and workers. It is an unthinkable affair in mass movement. In the past, people have seen bigger and longer peasant struggles in the late 1940s like the glorious Telangana and Tebhaga movements. In the 1980s, when the revolutionary peasants' movement subsided or was subsiding (except some flares, e.g., in some districts of undivided Bihar and Andhra) and when 'national-ethnic' movements were rising (in Assam from late 1970s, Jharkand movement, Punjab movement or Khalistan movement, Gorkhaland movement, Bodoland movement) there appeared a different kind of Farmers' agitation or what the official left called Kulak movement led by the capitalist landlords and rich peasants. Also, there arose different kinds of slogans (related to remunerative prices of crops / higher MSP, and lower inputs prices / input-subsidy) but also different forms of movement (rasta-roko, rail-roko, along with sit-in/seize/satyagraha etc, naturally which were not like transport workers strike or 1974 railway-strike), and all those started in a big way in 1983 Nashik Movement led by Sharad Joshi and then, Mahendra Singh Tikait. These 'roko' forms also entered toiling peoples' movement as a 'last resort' to make the deaf government administration hear the voices of workers or for some urgent local demands, for example by Kanpur Cotton Textile workers in 1989. Under Mahendra Singh Tikait's leadership people saw very long protests: 77-day Ghaziabad protest in 1992, 1-month seize of Lucknow in the same year, 110 days Rajabpur Satyagraha, to mention a few. Demands were: more compensation for land, cheaper electricity, fertiliser subsidy, higher MSP, loan waiver etc.

But what started mainly in Punjab villages in August-September 2020 and converged to Delhi border points (Singhu and Tikri) on Nov 26, 2020 and their continuing protest for 100 days at a stretch, including A Tractor Rally in Delhi on January 26, which is continuing even after death of more than 260 fighters and arrest of hundreds. It is historic Here, the main demand that came in the forefront is repealing of the three agriculture laws enacted by the Modi government.

The three Agri-laws are not only totally anti-peasant (poor, middle, rich peasants) and anti-farmer (farmer in the sense that who owns and operates/manages a farm depending on labourers), but also against all toiling people, as the Law 3 will increase prices of essential commodities (outside the new govt. definition of essential commodities).

One particular farmers' organisation, the BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) took some extra steps that must be appreciated. For example, in the first phase of the sit-in, they observed one day as 'Human Rights Day', and demanded release of all political and social activists who are imprisoned with false allegations. Recently they conducted a week-long agit-propaganda explaining to the Punjab toilers how imperial powers are linked with these farm laws and why farmers' struggle must be seen as an anti-imperialist struggle. They staged a huge workers-peasants united rally where more than two-hundred-thousand workers and peasants after weeks of preparation participated. The farm labourers' union explained to the workers the need of workers-peasants unity in this and future struggles.

But sadly, and it is the most important point now, the states where the masses of peasants and workers are mainly under the domination of the ruling parliamentary parties , rather opposition parties e.g., Bengal, Andhra, Tamil Nadu, those parties did not yet take the concrete steps for organising masses towards anti-Farm-Acts movement like Punjab and Haryana. They issued only statements in media. CPIM chief even suggested in his party organ article to make new farm laws after repealing the September 2020 ones while discussing, even with concerned corporate capitalists! They want to take them into confidence. What an idea!

The onus is now on communist revolutionaries and there are toiling people who want to fight, who are disenchanted with the established left.


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Vol. 53, No. 39, Mar 28 - Apr 3, 2021