Vol. XL No. 46 November 13, 2016

Kisan Sangharsh Jatha: Sets Course for Delhi from Kolkata

From our Special Correspondent


Mollah said that the Modi-government has backtracked on his promises made earlier to the peasantry. Peasantry, being that section of the population whose production feeds the entire nation, is being compelled to resort to suicides and starvation deaths due to complete lack of apathy on the part of the government. This lackadaisical stand of the government can only be responded by a firm whip of mass movements. Towards that objective, four peasant jathas from four corners of the nation will travel across the country and converge in Delhi.

In accordance with the all-India programme of the AIKS, these jathas are being organised on the basis of the 15-point demand charter in the interests of the peasants. Already a jatha has started from Tamil Nadu and the jathas from Kolkata and Jammu and Kashmir have started on November 8, for Delhi. Another jatha has started from Kerala on November 9. The jatha from Kolkata was inaugurated at a peasants rally held at Dharamtala-Y channel. This jatha shall traverse Howrah-Hugli-Burdwan-Bankura-Purulia and shall enter Jharkhand wherefrom it shall continue towards Delhi.

Hannan Mollah while speaking at the Kolkata rally stated that the challenges faced by the peasantry have turned into a crisis today. Such is the situation that 41 percent of the peasants have decided to stop farming activities if they get any alternate source of employment. There is no other way, but mass movement, to save the peasants today.

In order to address the challenges faced by the peasants, the Commission set up under the chairmanship of MS Swaminathan had made certain recommendations, which Modi had promised to implement before assuming the office of the prime minister. Hannan Mollah commented that even after two and half years, the Modi-government is unwilling to acknowledge the said recommendations, let alone implementing them. This is a betrayal of the peasants. While the farmers are not being provided with cheap credits, the banks are providing cheaper credits for buying cars. Loans are being waived for the corporate houses. The peasants are losing their land while the corporates are turning into neo-zamindars. The peasants are producers as well as consumers. However, neither are they getting the fair prices for their produce nor are they being able to buy food grains from the market due to inflation. The peasants are being exploited on both ends.

He demanded minimum support price for all agricultural produce. Cheap credit has to be made available to the peasants in accordance with the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission. All such families of the farmers who were compelled to commit suicide must be compensated as well as the farmers who have been affected by natural calamities.

When the peasantry all over the nation is affected by the policies of the Modi-government, what exactly is the plight of the farmers in West Bengal, he asked. The TMC-government has not taken any steps towards alleviation of the lot of the farmers and on the contrary has worsened the crisis by ruining democracy.

Madan Ghosh, president of the khet mazdur organisation questioned how many farmers have received digital ration cards? Are all getting rice, wheat and kerosene through the PDS? What then shall the farmers consume? How do they survive amidst this inflation? The TMC-government is usurping the democratic rights of the people to the extent that even jathas at villages and the general democratic rights to organise the peasantry are being taken away. 

Amal Haldar, secretary of the Pashchim Banga Pradeshik Krishak Sabha stated that even after selling their produce the cheques received by the farmers from the state government are getting dishonoured. It has now been exposed that the TMC-government has not paid the premium for the krishi insurances too. How then shall the distressed farmers survive, he asked.

Tushar Ghosh, secretary of the Pashchim Banga Khet Majur Sangathan, stated that the support price is not being made available for jute, paddy and the farm labourers are being left out unemployed. Inhuman process of liberalisation has dragged the peasantry in this quagmire. They are not even getting employed under REGA. While levelling the allegation of rampant corruption in REGA schemes under the patronage of the TMC, Amal Haldar alleged that the TMC-government is encouraging systematic and mammoth defalcation of funds. While the agricultural labourers are suffering for not getting employment under REGA, funds allocated for digging ponds is being embezzled without doing any work. An amount of Rs 3.7 crore has been siphoned off at Sheetalkuchi purportedly for digging 46 ponds while not a single such pond has been dug!

Nripen Chowdhury, president of Pashchim Banga Pradeshik Krishak Sabha, presiding over the rally, alleged corruption on the part the ruling party in REGA. He said that government funds are in effect, taxes collected from the people themselves, which are being looted by the ruling party. TMC is destroying democracy all across in order to prohibit the people from protesting against this plunder.

Meanwhile, a jatha has started from Coochbehar and traversed through northern districts to meet with jathas from Bihar. Jathas were also organised in districts to highlight demands of the peasants.