March 08, 2015

Defeat Modi Govt’s Conspiracy against Farmers

Hannan Mollah

THOUSANDS of farmers, agricultural workers, tribals, landless peasants and fishermen thronged the national capital to express their anger against the Modi government’s conspiracy to snatch their livelihood forever, by promulgating the ordinance amending the Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation Act, 2013. They converged at Parliament Street demanding withdrawal of the ordinance at once. The capital city heard their battle cry against the black ordinance, to repeal the ordinance. The protestors were carrying flags of different colours - red, green, blue and white. More than a hundred organisations of kisans, peasants, farmers, tribals and rural workers mobilised the concerned people in the disciplined rally which occupied the Parliament Street for several hours. The major organisers were the All India Kisan Sabha (36 Canning Lane), All India Kisan Sabha (Ajoy Bhawan), National Alliance of People’s Movement, All India Union of Forest Working People, Narmada Bachao Andolan, Chhatisgarh Bachao Andolan, All India Agricultural Workers Union, Bhartiya Khet Mazdoor Union, Ekta Parishad, Kisan Sangharsh Samity, Yuba Kranti, Campaign for survival and dignity, Delhi Solidarity Camp, Agragami Kisan Sabha, Sanjukta Kisan Sangharsh Samity, INSAF, Jan Sangharsh Vahini, National Fish Workers Forum, Punjab Kisan Union, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, Jan Pahal Kisan Manch etc. The main slogan in the rally which was unanimously raised was, “Scrap Land Acquisition Ordinance 2014” and “We want land right, not land acquisition.” The huge gathering was addressed by leaders of the kisan organisations, social movements and activists of several non-governmental organisations. The renowned Gandhiwadi, Anna Hazare was present in the rally and supported the movement. They criticised the Modi government’s fake promise of bringing in good times and good governance. They criticised the content of the ordinance which was corrected into an amendment bill and introduced in the Lok Sabha on the same day. This amendment has removed all the benefits given in the original LAAR Act 2013. The provision of farmers consent for any land acquisition, protection of fertile multi-crop land from acquisition, the social impact assessment of any acquisition, compensation to non farmer beneficiaries of the acquired land, ensuring of food security etc, have been removed and the corporate-land mafia-builders lobby has been given wide opportunity to grab the farmers’ land easily. This will make lakhs of farmers landless and poor as land is their only means for livelihood. Hannan Mollah, general secretary, All India Kisan Sabha (36 Canning Land) addressed the rally in the beginning and said, this movement is not a social movement but a class struggle and political movement. It is not a movement of any individual but a struggle of the entire rural peasantry, agricultural workers, tribals and homeless poor and artisans as the land acquisition ordinance would jeopardise the livelihood of these people. He said the BJP government is a pro-corporate government and is anti-farmer and anti-poor. We have to fight against this government unitedly. All the sections of people should be mobilised against this ordinance, he said. Today is a historical day as so many organisations, unions, social movements and NGOs have come together to fight the conspiracy of Modi government against farmers and rural people. We have to take this struggle to the states, districts and grass-root levels, he said. Atul Kumar Anjan, general secretary of AIKS (Ajoy Bhawan) said this protest rally was just the beginning and there is a need to launch a prolonged struggle. The BJP government brought this ordinance which was worse than the British Council Act of 1894. He appealed to all sections of people and all political parties to come forward and support the farmers struggle to defeat this barbaric ordinance. Medha Patkar of Narmada Bachao Andolan made a scathing criticism of the Modi government for its fake promises in election and serving the interests of the corporate houses. Anna Hazare gave his full support to this farmers movement and appealed for spreading the movement all over the country and organise farmers to force the government to withdraw the anti-farmer ordinance. The representatives of all the major organisations spoke on different aspects of the ordinance and criticised the anti- people policies of the Modi government and resolved to take the struggle to the grass-root level unitedly. This is the first united farmers movement after a long time as the Modi government brought them together by his draconian attack against the peasantry. All these organisations raised their voice against the ordinance from the very first day. On December 31, 2014, immediately after the promulgation of the ordinance, the All India Kisan Sabha condemned this black ordinance and asked all its units all over the country to fight against it. Kisan Sabha unity at all levels was seen on the streets and they organised protest demonstrations in different parts of the country to express the anger of the peasantry. The AIKS decided to build up a long struggle on the issue and mobilise other organisations in the struggle. AIKS met AIKS (Ajoy Bhawan) leadership and discussed and planned a joint struggle. Both the Kisan Sabhas jointly held a press conference at Delhi on January 13, 2015, and declared the programme of struggle. They appealed all their units to mobilise the farmers and organise militant protests in front of all district collector offices and burn the copies of the black ordinance. They were also asked to continue the campaign and finally to join the demonstration before the parliament on February 24, 2015, as the session was to begin on February 23. In the mean time, there was a convention of rural people organised by the National Association of People’s Movements, a joint body of a hundred NGO and social movements in New Delhi on January 24, 2015. We were invited to attend it. I attended the convention after discussing with Atul Kumar Anjan, AIKS (Ajoy Bhawan) general secretary. I reported before the conference that we are organising struggle against the ordinance and appealed them to join our struggle on January 30, at district level and on February 24, in the March to Parliament. The NAPM discussed it and agreed to join the struggle on the date already announced by the AIKS. There were reports of joint demonstration and burning of copies on January 30, in hundreds of district all over the country. Then we jointly prepared for the Parliament March. There were several joint meetings and press conferences. A joint coordination committee was formed for the Parliament March and small committees formed to make preparations for it. In the joint meeting, one/two NGO’s, which have relation with Anna Hazare, proposed that Anna wants to support our struggle. We all appreciated that as we called upon all sections of people to join our struggle. But in our committee meeting it was clearly discussed that our movement is a united kisan movement and it is not or will not be any individual movement or celebrity movement. It will be political and class movement, not a social movement. All the participants unanimously agreed to this. We also agreed that our demand would be to “scrap the ordinance”. No compromise would be accepted for any change in it. None of our constituents would accept if any government proposal comes for only some cosmetic changes in it. Another issue was discussed that our movement was mass organisation and social organisation’s movement. No political leader would be invited. Though we asked for inviting MPs who would take up the matter in the parliament, but others said that this time we should keep the movement as people’s movement by mass organisations. For unity, we agreed to it. In the mean time there was some development. The supporters of Anna Hazare decided to organise a separate dharna at Jantar Mantar on February 23 and that Anna Hazare would sit there. On February 24, our separate march and meeting would be held at Parliament street and that Anna would come there and address the gathering and support our movement. So on the 23rd dharna at Jantar Mantar, Annaji attended and a few hundred people were there. But the next day, in our march thousands of people came from different parts of the country and a huge public meeting and march was held on February 24. All the leaders of mass organisations and NGO’s were on the dais. Anna Hazare attended and sat on the dais along with us. All the leaders addressed the meeting one after another, during the whole day. We made it abundantly clear in our speech that this march is organised by Kisan Sabha and social organisations. It was the struggle of the peasants, not of any individuals. It is a political battle. Along with others, Anna addressed the meeting which definitely enthused the people and strengthened our cause. We welcome his participation in our movement. But one untoward incident happened. We came to know that Anna called his disciple Arvind Kejriwal, chief minister of Delhi to come and meet him in his dharna. He was supposed to meet Anna at Jantar Mantar, the dharna place of Anna. But he came to our dharna and did not go back to his dharna place. In the mean time, Kejriwal came. Anna was not at Jantar Mantar, he came to meet him at our Parliament Street March. There was a confusion, as it was decided that no party leader would come, how AAP party leader came there. In the beginning Sitaram Yechury, MP, D Raja MP, were asked not come as per unanimous decision. Now Kejriwal’s attending was totally against the decision. We had nothing against Kejriwal personally and we supported his party in the assembly election. But here it was a question of violating a unanimous agreement among the organisations. Even Vaiko from Tamilnadu, a MDMK party leader came and we did not invite him. But some of the constituents might have invited him. This type of unilateral action by any individual constituent in a joint body is unethical and wrong. Besides, the media played a mischief as all the media reported that kisans and social organisations joined Anna’s movement. It caused confusion among people. But it was a 100 per cent lie. The media propagated this lie to undermine our joint struggle of mass organisations and to portray it as one individual’s movement. We the organisations reviewed this programme. We noted that it was a large programme of kisan and mass organisations and social organisations jointly. It was a highly successful programme. For the first time, the land was brought to the agenda and to the forefront. Secondly, it caused panic in the ruling class and they immediately started a damage control by saying that they are ready to accept good suggestions for change. We have to take this positive achievement further. Land struggle is always a long struggle and bitter class-struggle. We have to take this to different parts of the country. All the constituent mass and social organisations met after the first phase and decided to expand it to grass root levels. It was decided all organisations would sit together at state level and also unite others who want to joint us in the state. In the joint state level meeting, a plan would be chalked out to take up intensive ground level joint campaign. A signature campaign would be organised on March 23, Bhagat Singh’s anniversary, at village level to collect five crore signatures to make the peasants aware of the issues and help building block/district level joint militant struggle for the right to land and against the draconian ordinance day. It would be jointly observed as “Land Right Day” and further long term struggles would be formulated at state level. At the end of the budget session, another rally may be held in Delhi in the month of May.