November 22, 2020

Worker-Peasant Unity to Resist Neoliberal Policies

Hannan Mollah

THE All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), a platform of nearly 250 peasant and agriculture worker organisations, and the joint platform of central trade unions, sectoral federations and associations have joined hands to give a clarion call against the continuous onslaught on the workers and the peasantry by the union government led by the BJP. The call is for a general strike and grameen harthal with village/block level chakka jaam on November 26 and joint demonstrations on November 27 at state/district/block centres. On November 26-27, peasants from Punjab, Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh and parts of Madhya Pradesh will participate in Delhi Chalo, a massive protest march. These major actions vindicate the growing worker-peasant unity to resist the neoliberal forces that dominate the economy of the country for the last around three decades.

The main demands of the struggle include repeal of the three pro-corporate farm laws, Electricity Bill and four labour codes. These are not mere reforms but a paradigm shift in the basic structure of the Indian economy. The three farm laws are aimed at the corporatisation of agriculture and will eventually annihilate the peasant agriculture that provides livelihood to two-thirds of our population. The union government led by RSS-BJP is committed to open the domestic food market to the multinational companies for profiteering and, by doing so, put an end to the present limited system of ensuring minimum support price to farm produce with guaranteed procurement system prevailing in the green revolution area.  Though the danger is there across the country, the peasantry of Punjab, Haryana and the western UP are facing the maximum danger of being destabilised without the assistance they were enjoying due to the MSP system through APMC market, procurement through the warehouse network under the Food Corporation of India. The small and marginal peasantry fears that eventually they will lose their land and animals, get pauperised and join the growing folk of migrant workers due to the crass exploitation under the neoliberal market forces.

On the other side, the four labour codes are detrimental to the interests of the working class denying them the right to eight hours work, minimum wage and the right to form trade unions, collective bargaining and right to strike. If the peasantry and the workers do not have these basic rights then the democratic rights and independence cannot be sustained and the country will ultimately be trampled  under the authoritarian fascist regime controlled by the corporate driven neoliberal forces. Thus the ongoing struggle of both the workers and the peasantry is the struggle not only to save their livelihood but to protect and sustain the democracy and independence of the people of India. 

The trade unions are relentlessly fighting the neoliberal reforms for the last three decades and the November 26, 2020 is the 20th general strike and the second strike in the current year 2020. Thus the working class of India has been in the forefront in the struggles against neoliberal capitalism and the entire people are indebted to the workers for whatever public sector is still remaining in India today. The peasantry in the recent period has been politically more conscious and willing to join hands among themselves to form platforms of united actions like the Bhumi Adhikar Andolan and the AIKSCC and have been successful in preventing the enactment of Land Acquisition Bill brought by the first Modi government and also forcing the second Modi government to keep away from signing the RCEP.

However the Modi government by misusing the lockdown restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic is bent upon unleashing heavy onslaughts on the workers and peasantry through the enactment of three Farm Acts, Electricity Bill and the four labour codes even by curbing the rights of members of parliament to put their right to vote. At any circumstances, these efforts must be resisted and pushed back to save the interests of the people.  In this direction, the series of struggles including the general strike, grameen harthal, chakka jaam, demonstrations and Delhi Chalo will mark a significant development in the history of independent India. The January 8, 2020 general strike and grameen harthal witnessed the participation of around 25 crore working people and the peasantry. The November 26 strike will definitely surpass that number and moreover the Delhi Chalo will explicitly prove the matchless striking power of the growing worker-peasant unity.  

The entire democratic forces have to come forward to support these issue based struggles which will pilot the development of larger people’s unity and development of peoples’ alternative across the country in the near future against the pro-corporate neoliberal policies being vigorously pursued by the RSS-BJP government.