January 09, 2022

Anti-Imperialist Struggle and Electoral Alternative

P Krishnaprasad

THE ongoing united farmers’ struggle in India has changed the political discourse in India and the world over.  The success of the struggle at the Delhi borders marks a remarkable setback to the reform process under the imperialist globalisation in India. Thus, the main ruling party - the BJP and its prime minister, Narendra Modi have received strong criticism from the pro-imperialist media world over since they yielded to the united farmers’ struggle.

The united farmers’ struggle was not spontaneous. It is the output of consistent and conscious struggles undertaken by the working class and the peasant movement in India and the world over against the neo-liberal reforms. The reforms were initiated in 1991 during the period of Narasimha Rao government headed by Congress. The WTO agreement was signed in 1994. The working class and the joint platform of central trade unions(CTU) have been consistently leading struggles since the last three decades against the neo-liberal policies. Around twenty all India general strikes were organised under their leadership and many of them including the recent strikes were also actively supported by the peasant movement.

Up until recently, there was an illusion among sections of the peasantry, especially the rich farmers regarding these reforms bringing fortunes for them. However, now there remains no such confusion as has been proven through the experience of the last three decades. This new realisation has enabled the peasantry to put up a united struggle and score a remarkable victory over the neo-liberal forces along with the active support of the united working-class movement. This is a decisive achievement.

The recent struggles in India have greater significance in the context of the intensifying contradiction at the international level between imperialism and the people of third world countries. The world capitalist system is facing a systemic crisis and has plunged into greater recession since the subprime crisis of 2008 in the USA. The recession is further intensifying and has a larger impact on India too. The economy is badly affected and the ruling class alliance is facing this crisis. The state and union governments facing serious financial resource crunch, are not able to address serious issues confronting the people like growing unemployment, unbridled price rise, lack of social security measures like public distribution system that endanger food security, universal health and education services etc. So much so that many state governments face severe trouble to ensure timely disbursement of salaries and pensions to their employees.

The most important outcome of this struggle is the emerging worker-peasant unity in India, especially on the question of addressing the agrarian question- the most crucial political question in post-independent India. Therefore, national politics may have for the first time in the post-independence period witnessed the direct contradiction between the ruling class alliance and the united might of the workers and the peasantry. This contradiction can decide the future character of national politics. 

The agrarian crisis in India prevails mainly due to three aspects of unfulfilled agrarian reforms under the capitalist stage of development. Firstly- non-accomplishment of redistributive land reforms, secondly - not establishing agro-based industries for processing and value addition and thirdly - failure to create a domestic market by ensuring remunerative price for agro produces, sustainable employment and minimum wage to agricultural workers. Even in those states and regions where land reforms have been implemented, the remaining two tasks are yet to be undertaken comprehensively. This enables the corporate forces both Indian and foreign to dominate the agro trade and agro-processing and severely exploit the peasantry by denying them the real price and minimum wage. This is the reason behind the pauperisation of the peasantry that results in severe indebtedness, peasant suicides and rural to urban labour migration.

The BJP-RSS led Modi government- instead of addressing the task of agrarian reforms to curb corporate exploitation has surrendered to the neo-liberal and imperialist forces and pushed Indian agriculture towards greater corporatisation. The BJP-RSS nexus have never in their history stood for land reform and redistribution of agricultural land among the peasantry. None of the BJP led state governments have addressed this task so far. Today the issues of remunerative price for farmers and minimum wage with stable employment for agricultural workers have become the main demands of the entire peasantry and also the working-class movement, apart from the withdrawal of the four anti-worker labour codes and halting the national monetisation pipeline project that stands for the privatisation of the public sector units. The three main producing classes- workers, peasants and agricultural workers are united today to undertake the struggle against the neo-liberal forces.

One of the major achievements of the struggle especially in Punjab-the epicentre of the farmers' struggle- is that it has forged an anti-corporate peoples’ unity. The call for a boycott against Adani supermarkets, Reliance petrol pumps, Jio sim cards, freeing the toll plazas, were the form of struggles that brought the protesters in direct confrontation with the corporate forces. These forms of struggle have helped the farmers to realize and recognize the real class enemies who exploit them. These forms of struggles need to spread across India as part of further intensifying the struggle against neo-liberal forces and Imperialism. 

Another significant achievement of course has been the impact of the united farmers’ struggle in resisting communal and divisive politics of the BJP-RSS nexus. The united farmers and workers struggles have brought the real class and livelihood issues into mainstream national politics.  The struggle has been able to forge cross caste and religious unity among the basic producing classes in some areas. This is by no means a small feat. The lesson is only class struggles based on the real livelihood issues are capable of uprooting communal and divisive politics.

At the national level in the coming days, the way is open for the basic classes to make advances against the communal and caste-based electoral division of the people, which act as the mainstay of BJP politics. This marks a blow to the communal politics in modern India, heavily relied on by the corporate forces to divide the exploited classes. Both the extreme as well as soft communal politics for electoral gains being practised by the right-wing political parties can be countered by these emerging issue-based class struggles and movements.

The unity of the peasants and workers, the unity of the people against the corporate forces and the larger unity of the Left, democratic and secular forces against the corporate and communal forces is the mainstay of national politics in India today. How different political parties will respond to this new emerging situation is the most crucial aspect. The severe economic crisis in the country and political isolation will push the BJP further to suffer reverses in the electoral process. Such a trend has emerged. How an alternative to the BJP takes shape at the national level will depend on the growing struggles of the producing classes. Hence the alternative to the BJP in national politics will depend more so on the non-parliamentary struggles than on electoral battles.

In this context, the working class, as well as the peasantry, has to further consolidate with confidence and continue to plan and unleash larger, mightier struggles in order to protect the interests of the entire people from imperialist exploitation. Extending the coordination between the SKM and CTUs to the state and district level and eventually up to the six lakh villages and towns of India is the way to further advance the worker-peasant unity and achieve the objective of larger unity of the people against corporate forces and Imperialism. This will make India an important centre of the struggle against the imperialist-dictated neo-liberal order. Thus, the ongoing agitation will mark a new stage in India’s struggle from imperialist exploitation – the present order of corporate-driven neo-liberalism.