‘Save Agriculture, Save Democracy’ Day, June 26
LAST week on June 14, 2021, the historic farmers’ struggle completed 200 days. It has been the largest and longest peaceful struggle not only in India, but also perhaps across the world.
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), in its general body meeting on June 11 held at the Singhu border near Delhi, gave a nationwide call to ‘Save Agriculture, Save Democracy’ on June 26. That day marks the completion of seven months of the farmers’ struggle. It is also the 46th anniversary of the imposition of the hated Emergency by the then authoritarian Congress government in 1975. The SKM has pledged to fight the undeclared Emergency of, and the trampling of democratic rights and civil liberties by, the present fascistic BJP government. The day also marks the death anniversary of the legendary peasant leader and founder president of the AIKS, Swami Sahajanand Saraswati, who passed away in 1950. The SKM also gave another important call to observe June 24 as Kabir Jayanti, after the great rational and egalitarian saint.
On June 26, dharnas will be held outside the Raj Bhawans in every state and a memorandum addressed to the president of India will be submitted to the governor. There will also be similar demonstrations at the district and tehsil levels. An appeal was made to the trade unions, and to organisations of agricultural workers, women, students and youth to join these protests. On June 15, the joint platform of Central Trade Unions (CTUs) promptly released a press statement supporting the SKM call for June 26. It was a welcome development. The CTUs and the SKM have always supported each other’s struggle calls, in the spirit of worker-peasant unity.
The SKM meeting was chaired by AIKS Haryana vice president Inderjit Singh and was attended by almost all SKM leaders, who included AIKS president Ashok Dhawale, finance secretary P Krishnaprasad and Haryana acting secretary Sumit.
On June 9, at the SKM call, the martyrdom anniversary of the renowned anti-imperialist tribal peasant leader Birsa Munda and the Sikh warrior Banda Singh Bahadur were widely observed.
In the context of the SKM’s June 26 ‘Save Democracy’ call, the struggle for democracy got a big boost on June 15, when a division bench of the Delhi High Court comprising Justices Siddharth Mridul and Anup J Bhambhani delivered a momentous judgment granting bail to UAPA-incarcerated anti-CAA student activists Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita and Asif Iqbal Tanha. These were three of the many that have been falsely implicated by the powers that be in the Delhi riots case, while the real BJP culprits who actually incited the riots are roaming scot free.
Among the many memorable and seminal passages in this judgment are the following: “It appears that in its anxiety to suppress dissent and in the morbid fear that matters may get out of hand, the state has blurred the line between the ‘right to protest’ and ‘terrorist activity’. If such blurring gains traction, democracy would be in peril…Protests against governmental and parliamentary actions are legitimate; and…it is not uncommon for protesters to push the limits permissible in law…Considering, however, that the right to protest is a fundamental right that flows from the constitutionally guaranteed right to assemble peaceably and without arms enshrined in Article 19(1)(b) of our Constitution, surely the right to protest is not outlawed and cannot be termed as a ‘terrorist act’ within the meaning of the UAPA.”
Two days before this judgment, on June 13, the Left-leaning Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) organised a public meeting at the Tikri Border near Delhi, in defence of democratic rights and demanding the release of all those human rights activists, intellectuals and students who have been vindictively jailed by the BJP-RSS central government under draconian laws like UAPA, NSA, Sedition Act and so on. They include the 16 Bhima Koregaon detenus, students of JNU, AMU, Jamia Millia, and journalists, film makers and cartoonists critical of the government. Despite heavy rains, hundreds of farmers, both women and men, attended.
The public meeting was presided over by BKU (EU) President Joginder Singh Ugrahan. The main speakers were the nephew of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Prof Jagmohan Singh, Ashok Dhawale, noted writers and playwrights Sukhdev Singh Sirsa, Sahib Singh, Navsharan Kaur, Gulzar Pandher, Jaspal Mankhera, N K Jeet and others. P Krishnaprasad also attended.
All the speakers denounced the fascistic, authoritarian, communal, pro-corporate and anti-people character of the Modi-Shah government, giving numerous examples of the same. They demanded the immediate release of all those unjustly arrested without trial and sometimes even without charge sheets being served for over three years. They also called for making the June 26 'Save Agriculture, Save Democracy' nationwide call of the SKM a great success.
DECLARATION BY BJP REGIME
On June 9, the BJP central government, as per its usual practice, announced its fraudulent MSP for 14 different crops in the coming Kharif season. The AIKS immediately released a strongly worded statement, some extracts from which are given below.
“The AIKS condemns the Narendra Modi-led BJP government’s betrayal of farmers by announcing Minimum Support Prices (MSP) of Kharif crops for 2021-22 that are neither remunerative nor commensurate to increased costs of cultivation. It is a mechanical addition of a small amount over the last year’s MSP without even accounting for the inflation or rise in costs of cultivation due to the BJP government’s policies. It has not used the formula of comprehensive cost (C2) plus a profit margin of at least 50 per cent above that for computing MSP. It has continued with the farcical claim of fixing MSP above the paid out costs plus imputed value of family labour (A2+FL). This is far below the C2+50 and does not meet the aspirations of the farmers who already are in an acute crisis due to the pandemic and uncontrolled rise in input costs.
Giving concrete crop wise details of the various calculations, the AIKS statement further said, “It is necessary to debunk the lies of the BJP government that the MSPs announced are remunerative. Let alone being remunerative, even these meagre prices are not realisable for a majority of the farmers as there is no assured procurement. Firstly, the huge difference between C2 and A2+FL even while taking the CACP calculation at face value is to be noted. Secondly, the huge difference in price projection by CACP and by State Agricultural Departments also is glaring…This is precisely the reason why farmers are demanding correct computation of costs, fixing of MSP as per the C2+50 per cent formula and enacting a law to provide a legal guarantee of the MSP.
“AIKS demands that the Narendra Modi-led BJP government stop cheating the farmers by indulging in this fraudulent exercise and enact a law to assure remunerative prices by rectifying problems in cost calculations. AIKS calls upon all its units to rise in protest and expose this betrayal by the BJP government.”
The SKM statement also condemned the fraudulent MSP declared by the central government.