July 21, 2019

Struggle against Anti-Peasant Policies

Hannan Mollah

THE All India Kisan Council(AIKC) met at Hyderabad on July 12-14, 2019. It was the second meeting of AIKC after Hisar conference. After the 17th Lok Sabha elections and formation of second NDA government, this was the first meeting in the context of the massive defeat of the opposition parties especially, the Left. One hundred and seven members participated in the meeting and the discussion was enthusing. Ashok Dhawale presided over the meeting and in his presidential address; he gave a detailed analysis of international situation, US aggressiveness, systemic crisis of capitalist world and global rightward shift. He also explained the resistance to neoliberalism. On the national situation, he explained the Modi government’s betrayal of the peasantry and people. But after hoodwinking people through jingoistic fake nationalism, utilising Pulwama and Balakot incidents and hindutva ideas, BJP was able to build a different narrative.

In general secretary’s report, failure of opposition parties to make agrarian crisis an election agenda was also highlighted. It highlighted the independent and united struggle of the peasantry but that could not be translated into electoral battle. The report explained the recent anti-people, anti-peasant budget of the Modi government. It explained the serious drought situation in large parts of the country and government’s failure to compensate the peasantry through proper relief and insurance. The attack on peasantry, banning cattle trade and lynching of Muslim and Dalit peasants was also explained. The latest and largest ever attack against tribals and conspiracy to evict them by diluting Forest Rights Act and amending Forest Act of 1927 was also highlighted in the report.

Self critical assessment was made about fall in membership, failure to bring in young people and women in kisan organisation and weakness in fund raising. A total of 28 members participated in the discussion. Another highlight of the discussion was that despite large mobilisations of jail bharo and worker peasant rally at Delhi, the politicisation of the peasantry remained a big weakness.

It was stressed that the identity of ‘kisan’ needs to be strengthened. Communalism, casteism and divisive forces are determined to divide the unity of the peasantry. There were more united movements of the kisans and new platforms like Bhoomi Adhikar Andolan and All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee emerged, which are positive contribution to democratic movement. The more class oriented organisation JEJAA started with good prospects but later on it was not active due to non cooperation of a section of the forces. The AIKS will try to coordinate the activities.

There is some improvement in the functioning of the committee and the centre. The AIKC stressed for the construction of its own office. Financial condition of the organisation will have to be improved. The English and Hindi bulletin have to be made regular and improved.

Extended state committee meetings will be held in all the states in August and September, in which two central leaders will be present. After the experiences gathered through these meeting, a note shall be prepared and a workshop on organisation will be held in March/April 2020 in Tamil Nadu.

It was discussed that quantity and quality of membership will be improved with proper scrutiny of the membership receipts. No reported membership will be accepted. AIKS decided to organise crop-wise mobilisations of farmers. Already sugar cane, coffee, jute and rubber sub-committees are functioning. To expand the base more such sub committees like milk, silk, vegetable growers will be formed by the states.

A very successful two days workshop on building cooperatives was organized before the AIKC meeting. It was decided to encourage peasants to participate in cooperatives and work for their democratisation and build up cooperatives, wherever possible. The AIKS, per se, will not form cooperatives but encourage its interested members to go for it.

The AIKC decided to strengthen united movement at national and state level. Extend the Bhoomi Adhikar Andolan and AIKSCC in states. Stress on unity of Left Kisan-Khet Mazdoor Unions and have joint activities. Take more initiatives to form and strengthen JEJAA. The P Sundarayya Trust will be activised. A group of intellectuals will be mobilised as a research team to engage in important aspects of agriculture.

Two international commitments are in place. As member of the Trade Union International, Paris, the  AIKS has a responsibility as the South Asian head to organise a conference of South Asian organisations from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and Vietnam. The AIKS is also the founder member of South Asian Peasant Council(SAPC) in which along with the above countries, Indonesia, Philippines, North Korea are members. A conference of the SAPC will be organised in the near future.

The AIKC stressed for movement on localised achievable demands to be built in the near future.

The AIKC decided immediate action programme:

 a) Against the attacks on tribals and imminent danger of eviction. Protest rallies/meetings will be held all over India at local, block, district and state levels in collaboration with Adivasi Rashtriya Adhikar Manch and other tribal organisations on July 22, 2019. A joint protest at Jantar Mantar shall also be held.

b) Submit memorandum to President of India through district collectors on August 3, 2019 demanding passing of two bills on (i) Remunerative prices and assured procurement of all corps (ii) To ensure one time loan waiver for all peasants by all public sector and cooperative banks and private money lenders; declare drought as national calamities and ensure compensation and distribute land to the landless.

c) The BJP government is planning to amend the labour laws. A protest action in the states in association with CITU will be held on September 5, 2019.

The meeting adopted some important resolutions:

  1. On river flood in Assam, Bihar, North East and part of North Bengal.
  2. On Forest Rights Acts- against eviction of tribals from forest land.
  3. On severe drought situation in many states.
  4. Against amendment to labour laws.
  5.  On Tamil Nadu struggles for rent on project lands and forming a single tribunal for river water disputes.

In the conclusion, S Ramachandran Pillai stressed on the anti-farmer policies and imminent attack by the government and movements required to resist them with confidence and change the unevenness in the overall kisan movement. He then stressed on to change style of functioning of AIKS leaders at all levels. He also explained the importance of politicisation of the peasantry. He also emphasised on brining and promoting young people and women in kisan movement and organisation. He also opined to understand contradiction of peasantry with rural rich nexus and develop rational, scientific and secular ideas to take up correct ideological campaign.

In the meeting, a book titled, “An outline history of All India Kisan Sabha”, written by Hannan Mollah, was released by Thomas Issac, Finance Minister of Kerala.