A truly memorable conference

Harsh Thakor


A truly memorable conference with regards to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections was jointly staged by Bharatiya Kisan Union Ugrahan representing the landed peasantry and Punjab Khet Mazdur Union representing the agricultural labourers near I.T.I Chowk, in Bathinda city on Wednesday, May 15th .It shimmered the flame of revolutionary democracy and exposing the -neo-fascist policies of the rulers. In genuine people's language in level with their political consciousness the leaders addressed the rally, explaining the futility of parliamentary elections and how people should reject all promises. Arguably one of the most encouraging and positive events in the revolutionary democratic history of Punjab and India. It thoroughly exposed the absolute farce of the so-called democracy which is morally semi-fascist and wears a garb of being a liberal state. The venue under a bridge literally resembled an Ocean igniting the very spark to create a prairie fire.


The success was a tribute to the painstaking work for a whole week in over 55 villages in 12 districts by the leaders and activists and to the series of struggles organized earlier .Motorcycle flag rallies were held mobilising people in districts of Bhathinda, Sangrur, Barnala, Moga, Muktsar, Mansa, Ludhiana, Faridkot, Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Jalandhar.

The sustained struggles of the past like the protest in Ludhiana against the frauds launched by a bank which issued false payment cheques to the peasantry, series of protests against debts and suicides of farmers,50 day protest in Bathinda for demands of compensation for suicide victims and loan waiver, ,protests of dalit agricultural labour for right to plots and be awarded minimum wages and panchayat land played an important role in the success of this event during the elections. Such protests and conferences were held at district and state level including many in joint fronts with other revolutionary peasant or agricultural labour organizations .Examples were in Chandigarh in March 2016 of 7dalit labour organizations and in Barnala in December 2015 and Chandigarh in 2018 of 7 organizations of the landed peasantry. Individual state level conferences were also held like that of the Khet Mazdoor Union for liberation from debt in Bathinda in January 2018 or in Lambi for genial demands ain August 2016 nd BKU(Ugrahan) on women’s day in March 2018.Common Desdemona for dalit agricultural labourers were for 5 marlas to be awarded to every dalit labourer family, employment for more than 100 days a year and compensation for suicide and compensation for damaged crops. For landed peasantry principal issue was cancellation of debts, compensation to all families of suicide victims. The organizations with great precision and planning connected the immediate to the overall political demands. The mutual support of the landless agricultural labour to the struggles of the landed peasantry and vice versa played a vital role. Also important was the consistent mass line approach in work never separating political work with economic demands and creating spirit of revolutionary democratic functioning in elections.

The conference urged the people to sharpen their day to day class struggles and the people's organizations and have no faith in the rotten parliamentary system. Around 10000 attended the meet. Perfectly illustrated the bridge between the immediate demands and overall political alternative. An event of great qualitative success in exposing the fraudulent parliamentary democracy prevailing today and in encouraging people to tread path of revolutionary resistance. The content of the speeches testified the semi-feudal character still prevailing in agriculture in Punjab. and that the land relations were not capitalist. Example of mass line practice and arguably nowhere in Punjab or India do we witness such level of revolutionary democratic practice or galvanisation of peasantry in open mass work during elections. The farmers and agricultural labourers had literally found a new road distinct from that offered by the ruling class parties and parliamentary system on the journey back home.

The protesters, including farmers, farm labourers and family members of farm suicide victims, also took out a march. The leaders addressing the rally requested the people to launch protracted or consistent struggles on issues of debt waiver, farm suicides, drug abuse and unemployment. They accused the political rulers of dividing the people on religious lines and hoodwinking them for electoral victories., instead of giving a genuine alternative to the people for solving their problems. They linked the people’s problems and issues with the neo-fascist economic and political agenda of the Narendra Modi led govt in the Centre explaining how in essence the ruling Congress in Punjab was no different and blessing Hindutva and all the economic policies the BJP endorsed., In a subtle manner some of the speakers touched upon the issue of the false nationalism of the BJP govt which was morally supporting imperialist enslavement and diverting people with national anti-Pakistan jingoism. They portrayed the actual revolutionary alternative of Shaheed Bhagat Singh and explained how since 1947 all the rulers betrayed the great martyr from Nehru to Metareference was also given to how Operation Greenhunt was an attack on the entire people of India explaining how the armed forces were used to crush people’s movements.

In the front of the rally women participants displayed garlanded photos of their husband farmers who were suicide victims as a result of debt.

Inspiring speeches by Jhanda Singh Jethuke, Laxman Singh Sewewala, Joginder Singh Ugrahan, Sukhdev Singh Khokri and Harbinder Bindu.

Harinder Bindu, leader of women’s wing of BKU in depth exposed how women were literally enslaved by the imperialist culture She gave vivid examples of women being exploited in advertisements and sold as commodities.

She narrated how peasant women refused to bow down to traditional slavery or captivity and were participating in many a struggle to oppose rapes, feudal exploitation and day to day class struggles with men, even playing a vanguard role.

Joginder Singh Ugrahan, state president of the BKU (Ugrahan) said, “All major political parties have let the farming community down for decades. These political parties and their leaders have played the politics of opportunism and always leveraged support to corporate houses. The agricultural sector is in dire straits today. Distressed farmers burdened under debt are forced to committing suicides while the owners of corporate houses and leaders of political parties are busy living lavish lives.”

He said, “We demand that government land must be distributed equally among farmers and interest on farm loan must be abolished. For the growth of the agriculture sector, investment from the government sector is a must. Besides, facilities of irrigation must be increased and adequate arrangements to meet the storage of farm produce must be made. There is a need for an agro-based industry, cheaper power, transportation, water and regular jobs. Privatisation must be stopped.”

He felt that the rich farmers and polticians were getting richer day by day,the poor farmers were further pauperized and turning landless, while both farmers and agricultural labourers were compelled to commit suicide.

Laxman Singh Sewewala, Secretary of the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union (landless workers organization)stated that people had to play a major role in exposing the ruling class politicians and build up their own sustained struggles In detail hew explained how the parties will never solve their real problems and bang every nail on the coffin to hoodwink them.

Sukhdev Singh Khokri, secretary of the BKU(Ugrahan)narrated the influence of imperialist culture and how it was strangulating democracy. He elaborated how a genuine pro people culture should be created. In detail he summed up how the TV ,films and social media were literally reduced to stooges of the rotten ,dirty Imperialist culture having a profound influence on shaping the thought process of the broad masses.

BKU leader Jhanda Singh Jethuke Jethuke summarised the victory of peasant struggles in regions like Chatewada on issue of debt and Halwala where a Special Economic zones construction was thwarted. He explained the futility of the Parliamentary system and how only revolutionary struggle could create the base for any social change.

Most touching moment witnessing the aftermath of the event with the vehicles carrying the participants reminiscent of thousands of blooming red roses on a journey or many contingents of an army batallion marching. They looked as though they were resurrected with a new spirit to rekindle the flame of revolution. I was most privileged to participate here being a most memorable experience. The unity of the landed Jat peasantry with the dalit agricultural labour community here had great significance to the long term interests of the agrarian revolution wedging the caste gap between them. The farmers and agricultural labourers had literally found anew road distinct from that offered by the ruling class parties and parliamentary sytem on the journey back home.

Cultural activists interspersed the speeches with songs and readings of great poetic depth reaching the core of the soul of the audience as though it was playing in their hearts.

May 28, 2019

Harsh Thakor