THE historic and massive ‘Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh Rally’ before parliament on September 5, 2018, led by the CITU, AIKS and AIAWU was preceded by a series of countrywide campaigns, mobilisations and agitations. Now the struggle against the anti-worker, anti- people and anti-national policies of the government at the centre has entered a new phase with altogether a new dimension. The enthusiastic response the call has received right from the preparatory phase itself to the massive participation of workers, peasants and agricultural workers in the September 5 rally from every part of the country, extreme south to north, east and west, is itself an indication of the warm welcome accorded by the people to this new feature – organised resistance by the working class along with its main class ally, the agricultural workers and peasants against the neoliberal order.
This is for the first time in the history of the country’s democratic movement that such joint worker peasant actions could be organised at district and even lower levels in several states, culminating in the massive national rally. Post independent India has now witnessed, perhaps, the historically mandated initiative of building joint class resistance by the workers, agricultural workers and peasants, who are the real creators of national wealth, the principal contributors to the national exchequer both directly and indirectly, besides keeping the wheel of the national economy moving. If they stop working concertedly, everything will collapse –and that speaks about their central role in keeping the country moving. The assertion of the class alliance of the workers and peasants will help the entire toiling class realise and discover their inbuilt potential and strength to fight the crisis-ridden system of exploitation for complete transcendence of the system itself in favour of the toiling class.
This new dimension of workers-peasant alliance has to be strengthened and carried forward with a continuity – that is the direction given to all of us by such huge spontaneous response to the massive rally of the toiling people of the country at the national capital.
Efforts to build joint campaigns and agitations have been going on for the last several years. CITU has taken the initiative for a joint campaign including the AIKS and AIAWU to ‘Save ICDS’, a comprehensive scheme for child development, from privatisation and ultimate dismantling. Efforts were made to involve the peasants and agricultural workers who were the beneficiaries of the scheme and the anganwadi employees who implement it at the grassroots level. Similar efforts were made on the issue of the electricity bills.
Since the last three years, CITU, AIKS and AIAWU have been jointly observing January 19 every year, as workers-peasants martyrdom day, to commemorate the death in police firing, of 10 people including workers, agricultural workers and peasants, on the occasion of the first joint countrywide strike after independence, on that day in 1982. The demands of this strike included the major demands of the peasants and agricultural workers – remunerative prices for the peasants and comprehensive legislation for agricultural workers.
Besides, the joint trade union movement extended active solidarity and support to the countrywide struggle by AIKS and other peasant organisations against the retrograde land acquisition ordinance followed by the related bill by the BJP led Modi government. The joint trade union movement opposed that ordinance and bill in all its agitations and struggles. The strong opposition of the peasants with firm solidarity of the working class movement ultimately compelled the Modi government to allow the ordinance to lapse and to shelve the bill, at least for the time being. The struggles of the peasantry on their other demands like minimum support price, loan waiver etc also received support and solidarity of the trade union movement.
The initiatives for such joint actions got a new momentum in the current year. The peasants’ struggles facing police repression in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and their Long March from Nasik to Mumbai inspired workers across the country. The massive country wide general strikes and the unprecedented three day ‘mahapadav’ of the workers enthused peasants. CITU general council held in March 2018 welcomed the AIKS call for countrywide jail bharo on August 9, 2018 and decided to participate in the programme throughout the country shoulder to shoulder with the peasant-folk. AIKS and AIAWU welcomed the initiative of CITU to organise a massive March to Parliament on September 5, 2018 and agreed to join it, making it a Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh Rally.
The enthusiasm generated by the joint call is reflected in the massive participation of more than five lakh peasants and workers in the jail bharo on August 9, 2018 in at least 540 locations in 393 districts across the country. It was also reflected in the night long ‘samuhik jagaran’ programme on the night of August 14, 2018, on the eve of Independence Day, which was observed in 395 locations covering all the states by over 62,000 workers and their families; peasants in many places joined the programme. In addition, the three organisations joined together in the campaign at the grassroots level in several states to expose the anti-people and anti-national policy regime.
These joint activities and campaigns demonstrate the commitment of the toiling people for countrywide united struggles against the neoliberal policies to safeguard their rights and living conditions. They hold the promise for developing militant joint struggles aimed at reversal of these policies and bringing in pro-people policy regime. This has to be achieved through sustained efforts to continue the struggle and take it to new heights.
The worker-peasant alliance’s determination to carry on joint struggle with a continuity, right from its preparatory phase itself started tempering the atmosphere of struggle countrywide, drawing organisations of other sections of the common populace, irrespective of affiliations in the battle line. Already the united platform of central trade unions and federations have been conducting several agitations including numerous strike actions against the neoliberal policy regime since decades and in that process the platform of unity got consistently widened to draw almost all central trade unions and federations in the country to the united platform of struggle. In that background, the worker-peasant alliance initiative has added momentum to the urge for loud expression of unrest and anger among the mass of the populace drawing various segments of the society in the frontline of struggle against the grievous impact of the anti-people policies on their lives and livelihood.
The Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) decided to organise a day-long dharna at district headquarters all over the country before the offices of the central government establishments on September 15, 2018 followed by a big rally of around 50,000 youth before parliament on November 3. These programmes will expose the employment killing policies of the government and its fraudulent campaign on employment generation.
The All India Kisan Sanjukta Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSSCC) comprising various farmers and agricultural workers’ organisations in the country has decided to organise a 100 kilometre long march to parliament from 7/8 locations in and around Delhi in which farmers and agricultural workers from all the parts of country will participate.
All the major central trade unions and almost all national independent federations of employees in services and establishments in state and central governments, defence-manufacturing, banks and insurance, telecom and workers of almost all strategic sectors of the economy viz., coal, steel, electricity, petroleum, engineering, port & dock, road transport, etc, both in public and private sector, have jointly decided to go in for nationwide campaign at the workplace level against the destructive economic policies of the government at the centre and its nefarious design to impose slavery on the working people through pro-employer change in labour laws, which will culminate in a two days countrywide general strike by the end of the year. The National Convention of Workers to be held at Mavalankar Hall, New Delhi on September 28, 2018, will draw the details of the action programmes including countrywide general strike. Besides above, many more sectoral struggles are in the offing.
We are fighting against the neoliberal policies of an extreme right-reactionary government at the centre which is spearheading the worst onslaught on the lives and livelihood of the toiling people in every sector and segment of the economy. It is the most heinous political gang which is carrying on a poisonous campaign as a part of its governing strategy to cultivate communal and divisive polarisation to weaken and disrupt the unity of the people. We are fighting against a venomous as well as an authoritarian outfit, which, with the use of state machinery under its command, is seeking to curb the right to dissent and right of free expression which is an inseparable ingredient of democracy. All these are integral to the singular strategy of the neoliberal capitalist order and its operator in the governance to sustain itself in the midst of deepening crisis in which it is engulfed.
Our struggle has to be directed comprehensively against the neoliberal capitalist order and the authoritarian as well as poisonous machinations on the society by their extreme right wing operators in the seat of governance. The worker-peasant alliance in this struggle will definitely widen the unity of the toiling class in its entirety and cementing and broadening this alliance in every phase of struggle is the crucial task before us. This needs more proactive role of the class oriented trade union movement to assert and actively involve with solidarity action in every phase of the struggles and activities of the peasants’ and agricultural workers’ organisations, be it at local, state or national level. It is the prime responsibility of the working class movement to carry forward this alliance in action towards a more stable platform of action against neoliberal capitalist order and the politics of neoliberalism with a consistent continuity. Let the huge success of August 9 Jail Bharo and September 5 Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh Rally give us the confidence and arm us with the resolve to discharge that responsibility. Let all the organisations of ours be charged with that confidence.
We will overcome.