May 03, 2015

Peasants March to Parliament on May 5

P Krishnaprasad

THE countrywide joint struggle of the peasantry against the Land Acquisition Ordinance is the first largest political ordeal faced by the eleven month old National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government. The entire parties in the opposition have been cooperating and taking up independent agitations over this issue based movement. The joint march to Rashtrapathi Bhawan highlighted the unity of opposition on the issue. The BJP got isolated within the ruling alliance since the Akali Dal and Shiv Sena openly opposed the Ordinance.

On the other side, the peasant and agricultural workers organisations along with various social organisations came together in the struggle path against the Ordinance. It is noticeable that in the recent history of the country, it is the first time that such wide unity and struggles have emerged in the vast agrarian sector. It underlines the fact that the model of unity of trade unions in the working class sector is being extended to agrarian sector. It is also important that after a long interlude, the land question has become a point of discussion in the national mainstream.

The class organisations working in the agrarian front had acted immediately with vigilance as soon as the Land Acquisition Ordinance was promulgated on December 31, 2014 by the NDA government. Both the All India Kisan Sabha organisations of 36 Canning Lane and Ajoy Bhawan jointly appealed to the peasantry to come forward to join struggles against the Ordinance. The call to burn copies of the Land Acquisition Ordinance at district levels got a resounding response and as per the information available at the all India centre it was organised in more than 300 districts. The March to Parliament on  February 24 organised by all the peasant and agriculture worker organisations along with various social organisations and individuals was attended by more than 20,000 people. This mass action helped to create an environment of resistance all over the country and filled confidence among the peasantry. 34 organisations joined this struggle. The main achievement is that it helped to forge issue based unity of the peasantry and create a wide band of leadership in the agrarian sector.

The call to observe March 23, 2015, the martyrdom day of Shaheed Bhagat Singh as the Land Rights Day also received inspiring response from all over the country. On April 14, the birth anniversary day of Dr Ambedkar, the police fired and beat tribal peasants who are facing a threat of loss of their land in the Kanhar Dam area in Sonebhadra district of Uttar Pradesh and one person was seriously injured and got hospitalised.  

The organisations participated in the February 24 movement; organised a meeting on April 2 in New Delhi and decided further actions. It has been decided to organise state and district level mass conventions before April 30 and organise village/ panchayat level padayatras and collect 5 crore signatures to be submitted to the prime minister before May 15, 2015. It also decided to organise a March to Parliament on May 5, 2015 mainly from adjacent states to New Delhi. A call was given to burn copies of the Ordinance which was promulgated again on April 6, 2015 and the action was held in more than 5000 places.

A meeting of the political parties supporting the struggle was organised on April  2 in which leaders of eleven parties including the Congress (I), Janata Dal(U), CPI(M), CPI, RSP, Forward Bloc, SUCI, CPI(ML)- Liberation etc attended which helped to advance the political partcipation on the issue.

 On April 26, a meeting of the Left Kisan and agriculture worker organisations was held at Ajoy Bhavan which was attended by six organisations. The meeting decided to move unitedly to address issues confronting the peasantry. The unity of the Left peasant movements will help to concretise the joint struggle and give it correct direction, hence this move is politically significant. 

The NDA government is facing serious political crisis in the background of the mounting resistance of the peasantry and the failure of the government to address the intense agrarian distress, farmer’s suicides and in extending help to compensate the crop loss suffered by the peasantry due to untimely rain and hail storm. If the government goes ahead to enact the bill with the existing provisions then it will attract the wrath of the peasantry.

The efforts to ensure maximum participation of the peasantry under the banner of class organisations in the agrarian front are crucial. It is essential for the democratic forces to help in mobilising the peasants and agriculture workers at different levels and make the March to Parliament on May 5, a grand success. Through such efforts we will be able to expose the anti- farmer character of the NDA government which has dared to bring in the Ordinance to usurp the land of the peasantry without their consent in order to cater to the interests of the corporate forces. The mobilisation on May 5 and further struggles all over the country are vital on deciding the future of the Land Acquisition Ordinance, and thus in weakening the political domination of the NDA government.