THE Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh Rally on September 5 in New Delhi was a notable and significant mobilisation of the working people in the capital city.
This was the first time that the working class, peasantry and agricultural workers conducted an all India rally of such proportions. The rally was organised by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) and All India Agricultural Workers Union (AIAWU).
Braving the inclement weather, there were rains in Delhi in the days preceding and on the day of the rally, tens of thousands of men and women marched from the Ram Lila Maidan to Parliament Street. There were industrial workers, public sector employees and a large number of unorganised sector and women scheme workers from all parts of the country including the North-East. There were peasants and agricultural workers from Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Punjab, the northern states and even from the south; there were landless adivasi farmers and women agricultural workers. Peasants and workers from West Bengal and Tripura, where their movements are facing attacks, participated. From Kerala, despite the flood situation, thousands came.
The rally displayed the growing discontent and anger against the Modi government’s policies. The more than a hundred-thousand strong rally was also a concrete manifestation of the worker-peasant alliance that has become essential and which is beginning to take shape.
The demands charter raised by the rally concern the major demands of the three sections of the basic classes. They include land reforms, MSP based on the formula proposed by the Swaminathan Commission, Central legislation for agricultural workers, equal pay for equal work for women, minimum wages of at least Rs 18,000 for workers and the scraping of anti-worker labour laws.
There are also the demands common to all sections of the working people such as curbing price rise, universalising the public distribution system, food security and education and health for all. All of these demands are raised within the overarching demand for the reversal of neo-liberal policy.
In the past two and a half decades, there has been the relentless onslaught of the neo-liberal policies by successive governments. This has been accentuated during the four years of Modi government. There has been a twin assault – on the livelihood and meager resources of the workers and peasants and concerted attacks on their trade unions and democratic rights. The attacks have been ferocious against particular sections of the working people – the adivasis who have been dispossessed of their lands and dalits who stood up to protect their rights. Neo-liberalism and Hindutva authoritarianism go side by side.
It is these twin attacks which has created the growing resistance. There have been a series of action and united struggles by the workers and peasants in the past one year. Chief among them were the Mahapadav of the trade unions and Kisan Sansad in November 2017 and the long march of the kisans in Maharashtra in April 2018.
The worker-peasant rally was preceded by another joint action by workers and peasants – the August 9 Jail Bharo movement which was called by the Kisan Sabha and the CITU. This call saw over 5.5 lakh workers and kisans joining the protest action countrywide.
The BJP-RSS combine is out to disrupt the unity and divide the working people. The forging of united struggles of the working people against the neo-liberal policies and linking them to the struggle against the communal forces is the best way to challenge the Modi government.
The September 5 rally has set a new benchmark in worker-peasant unity. This alliance should be the bedrock for the mobilisation of all sections of the working people, which is essential to fight back the Hindutva communal forces. It will also open the path to forging the unity of the Left and democratic forces.
(September 5, 2018)