April 18, 2021

The relevance of re-election of LDF in Kerala

P Krishnaprasad

THE ongoing farmers’ struggle in India is an integral part of the class struggle by the producing classes - the peasantry and the working class- the world over against the imperialist globalisation.
Declining purchasing capacity of the two major producing classes has paved the way for enormous recession and related massive unemployment and price rise.  The trade unions and organisations of the peasants, youth and students have built massive struggles and its natural consequence is mounting people’s fury on the Congress that had initiated imposing LPG policies on the people.   In the due course, phase by phase, the Congress had been thrown out of power in the states and finally at the centre too. In the 2014 general election, the BJP has replaced Congress as the political party of the ruling classes.

BJP led government also implements the same LPG policies that have destroyed the economy of the basic classes. Moreover, in order to remain in power, the BJP has been sticking to the dangerous political tactics of dividing the people based on religion and identity politics. The Modi Government has brought in three farm laws and four labour codes that deny the minimum support price and the minimum wage and employment security to the two producing classes along with other pertinent issues like endangering food security, alienation of the peasant land and destroying the federal character of the Indian constitution among others.

The root cause of the crisis of the capitalism in India since Independence is the refusal to resolve the agrarian question. Comprehensive land reform, domestic industrialisation with thrust on agro-based industries and expansion of domestic market are the ways to achieve that. Without resolving the agrarian question, India can never address the challenges of rampant unemployment, price rise, food security, expansion of domestic industry, infrastructure development,  social welfare and development of service sector and related issues.  

The Congress is not ready to learn from its defeat, not willing to resist the communal politics of dividing the people and to rectify its stand on the LPG policies. The Modi government has enacted the four labour codes and implements its policy of disinvestment of the public sector enterprises with the support of Congress.  The divisive communal politics and wrong economic policies of the BJP have been effectively exposed and massive struggles are built up mobilising various sections of the people across the country by the Left and democratic forces under the leadership of the CPI(M). The role of the Left political parties and the Left trade unions in the ongoing farmers struggle at the borders of Delhi is very significant.

One of the major achievements of the current struggles unleashed by the farmers and workers is that it has effectively barricaded the divisive communal politics of the RSS and BJP. Along with that, these struggles have been successful to bring in to the national attention the real livelihoods issues of minimum support price of crops, minimum wage and job security of workers and the rampant privatisation of public sector enterprises.

It is in this context, the possibility of the re-election of the LDF government in Kerala becomes highly significant in the current national political situation. The ongoing farmers' struggle indicates that the agrarian question in India has become the main contradiction at the national level. In Kerala also, to overcome the current economic crisis, it is essential to resolve the agrarian question. A preliminary estimate of the loss suffered by the Rubber farmers alone in Kerala during the last 10 years is a whopping sum of Rs 60,000 crore due to the LPG policies of various free trade agreements including the ASEAN.  Weighing the estimated loss of the farm sector against the estimated investment requirement of Rs 50,000 crore for development projects of five years through KIFBI can help us to realise the relevance of resolving the agrarian question in Kerala.

The major contradiction in agriculture is the exploitation of raw produce in the market due to the price crash. In order to resolve this, modern large scale agro-processing industries manufacturing value-added products out of the major crops like Rubber, Coconut, Coffee, Tea, Pepper, Paddy, fruits and vegetables need to be promoted in the social cooperative sector. The network of processing industries combined with the expansion of a robust domestic market will help farmers to come out of the exploitation of the market forces. The surplus thus created out of value addition should be distributed among the primary producers as additional price and additional wage. This will of course enhance the purchasing capacity of the producing classes in order to overcome the recession and economic slowdown. The thrust on domestic industrialisation and resultant employment opportunities in the industrial and service sectors will help to absorb unemployed youth as skilled workers or as entrepreneurs in the respective sectors.

In this direction, the LDF government in Kerala has executed many novel projects like Wayanad Coffee, Kerala Chicken, SubhikshaKeralam, the highest MSP in the entire country for paddy at Rs 2,850 per quintal against Rs 1,868 per quintal by the central government, again MSP for the first time in the country for vegetables and fruits, Coffee, Coconut and Rubber, farmers welfare board and Rs 5,000 monthly pension for farmers etc. The 2021 election manifesto of the LDF has promised to establish large scale modern agro-processing industries like Rubber Park, Coffee Park, Coconut Park, Spices Park and Food Park.

The victory of the LDF - as a people’s verdict against the LPG policies and communal politics - will bring more strength to the ongoing struggle of farmers as well as workers at all India level. That can bring long term political changes at the national level. The Left victory will compel the right-wing parties like Congress to support anti-corporate economic policies that will protect the interests of the farmers and the working class- the majority of the people.