THE 34th all India conference of All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) was held at Hisar, Haryana from October 3-6, 2017. Hisar was earlier host to the 27th all India conference in 1992, only a year after the Congress government led by PV Narasimha Rao started implementing the policies of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation. That conference had made a correct evaluation of these policies and pointed out that they would be detrimental to interests of the peasantry when many were claiming they would be beneficial to the peasantry.
Twenty five years from then when the AIKS decided to go into its 34th conference again at Hisar, it was in the context of intensified onslaught of neoliberal economic policies and divisive communal policies under the BJP regime led by Narendra Modi.
This conference was also being held in the context of historic victories of united struggles in Rajasthan and Maharashtra that gave tremendous confidence to the peasantry across the country. In the four years since the 33rd conference at Cuddalore, Tamilnadu, resistance has been meticulously built forging issue-based unity with broadest sections and significant victories have been won facing extreme repression.
Undoubtedly, the infectious spirit of victorious struggles and the confidence it generated was the overwhelming ambience of the 34th conference from the very beginning when thousands of peasants and workers and other sections of society marched towards the Kisan-Mazdoor Rally on October 3 till the conclusion on October 6.
The Kisan-Mazdoor Rally addressed among others by Manik Sarkar, chief minister of Tripura, Hannan Mollah, general secretary, AIKS, president Amra Ram, K Hemalatha, president of CITU and others was attended by thousands of enthusiastic peasants and workers, students, youth and women. A book on the Warli Adivasi Struggle in Maharashtra written by Prof Archana Prasad brought out by AIKS and LeftWord was released by Manik Sarkar.
After the rally, delegates marched to the Panchayat Bhavan premises named Comrade Harkishan Singh Surjeet Nagar. The Red Flag of AIKS was hoisted by Amra Ram amidst shouting of slogans. Delegates paid floral tributes to the Martyrs’ Column. The conference hall was named Comrade Benoy Konar Hall and the stage was named Comrade Noorul Huda Manch in honour of the departed leaders. A life-size statue of Comrade AK Gopalan adorned the stage.
The conference began with the condolence resolution placed by NK Shukla. Prof Ram Nivas Kundu, chairman of the reception committee welcomed the delegates and Amra Ram delivered the presidential address. Hannan Mollah placed the general secretary’s report on which 43 delegates took part in the discussion. The conference discussed the impact of 25 years of neoliberal economic policies, changes in agrarian relations, issues of the peasantry and struggles in the last four years as well as the important question of organisation.
The slogan of “issue-based united struggles to resist the agrarian crisis” and “Kisan Sabha in every village, every kisan in Kisan Sabha” underlined the main thrust of the conference. The conference unanimously adopted the report and programme of action for the coming days.
Atul Kumar Anjaan, general secretary of AIKS (Ajoy Bhawan) greeted the conference. K Hemalatha, president, CITU, Thirunavukkarasu, president, AIAWU, Mariam Dhawale, general secretary, AIDWA, Avoy Mukherji, general secretary, DYFI, Vikram Singh, general secretary, SFI, G Mamatha, DSMM, Muralidaran, general secretary of NPRD, Subhash Lamba, AISGEF and others greeted the conference. Greetings from Trade Union International (Agriculture) were also received.
Three commission papers were thoroughly discussed by the delegates. The commission on “the role of Kisan Sabha in united struggles” was presented by Dr Ashok Dhawale and chaired by P Krishnaprasad. The commission on “rural credit scenario and insurance from crop and income losses” was presented by Prof Ramakumar and chaired by Jitendra Choudhary. The commission on “agricultural costs and prices” was presented by Prof VK Ramachandran and chaired by K Balakrishnan. The discussions enriched the different commission papers and suggestions will be incorporated to strengthen them.
S Ramachandran Pillai inaugurated the website of AIKS, kisansabha.org developed by Prof Vikas Rawal. The website is a repository of valuable documents and conference reports. The credential report was placed by P Shanmugham. The accounts were placed by P Krishnaprasad and these were adopted.
The conference also unanimously adopted 15 resolutions on different issues affecting the peasantry – against social oppression, against the communal menace, against unjust land acquisition, on forest rights, RCEP and free trade agreements, GST, worker-peasant alliance, women in agriculture, climate change and disaster management, on sugarcane farmers’ problems, against infiltration of Israeli corporations into Indian agriculture, on restrictions on cattle trade and attacks by vigilante ‘cow-protection’ groups. A resolution against the killing of renowned journalist Gauri Lankesh and calling upon the peasantry to join in protests across the country on October 5, and another on RSS/BJP and TMC attacks on Bengal, Kerala and Tripura was also adopted.
The resolution on future struggles decided to hold country-wide torch-light processions on October 30, along with other constituents of the Jan Ekta Jan Adhikar Andolan against the communal forces. Active solidarity and participation in the three day Mahapadav called by united trade unions from November 9-11, 2017 and massive mobilisation for the November 20, 2017 march to parliament called by the AIKSCC was also decided. A two-week long campaign from November 1 against the anti-people policies of the BJP government and against communal forces will also be carried out. On November 20, 2017 protests against the anti-peasant policies will be held across the country. Vijoo Krishnan was the convenor of the resolutions committee.
After the conference elected Dr Ashok Dhawale as the new president, it elected an All India Kisan Council of 141 members, which in turn elected a Central Kisan Committee of 65 members and 17 other office bearers. Hannan Mollah was re-elected as the general secretary. P Krishnaprasad was elected as the finance secretary. The vice presidents elected are Amra Ram, S Ramachandran Pillai, K Varadharajan, Madan Ghosh, K Balakrishnan, S Malla Reddy and SK Preeja (woman). The joint secretaries elected are Vijoo Krishnan, NK Shukla, EP Jayarajan, Nripen Choudhary, KK Raghesh, Jitendra Choudhary, Amal Haldar and Badal Saroj.
An exhibition involving social cooperatives like Brahmagiri Development Society, Regional Agro Industrial Development Cooperative, Farmers’ Cooperative etc., showcasing the alternatives as well as book stalls was inaugurated by Amra Ram. Cultural programmes including songs, dances and plays filled the evenings.
The Haryana unit of the AIKS with ample support from different mass and class organisations made great efforts to make the conference a success. Hundreds of volunteers worked tirelessly for months and during the conference and without their collective effort the conference would not have been possible.
The conference will usher in a new history of peasant struggles in Haryana as well as across the country. It will undoubtedly prove to be a milestone in the peasant movement of the country. The conference concluded on an inspiring note with a speech by Dr Ashok Dhawale, the newly elected president of AIKS.
The days ahead will be filled with intense activity to try and expand the organisation to every village, enrol all kisans in Kisan Sabha, meticulously build rock-solid issue-based unity and launch consistent struggles to reverse the neoliberal economic policies, defeat divisive forces and ensure implementation of a pro-peasant alternative.