December 25, 2022
Struggle, Consolidate, Advance for an Alternative: Clarion Call of AIKS All India Conference

Vijoo Krishnan

THE 35th all India conference of All India Kisan Sabha that started on December 13, concluded at Thrissur, the cultural capital of Kerala, on December 16, on an inspiring note with a massive rally and public meeting inaugurated by the chief minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan. Addressing the massive gathering, he emphasised the need to resist and defeat the communal fascist forces and the neoliberal economic policies that are facilitating corporate profiteering at the expense of the people. He also contrasted the communal-corporate model with the pro-people Kerala alternative being implemented by the Left Democratic Front government.

The newly re-elected president of AIKS, Ashok Dhawale and newly elected general secretary, Vijoo Krishnan, Hannan Mollah, vice-president, AIKS, A Vijayaraghavan, president of AIAWU and others addressed the meeting. Thousands marched holding high red flags and raising slogans and reached the venue of the public meeting named Comrade Kodiyeri Balakrishnan Nagar (Thekkinkatt Maidan). Thousands were already assembled as the songs by the Praja Natya Mandali from Telangana filled the air with revolutionary fervour. 

All through the last few months, numerous programmes were held in the run-up to the conference. One unmistakable imprint witnessed throughout was to draw inspiration from the revolutionary anti-feudal, anti-imperialist struggles of the past, Telangana, Tebhaga, Kayyur, Punnapra Vayalar, Warli, Surma Valley, adivasi struggles, Keezhvenmani, Salem Jail and the numerous other struggles, draw lessons from the historic united kisan struggle that emerged victorious, consolidate organisationally and expand to realise the slogan kisan sabha in every village, every kisan in kisan sabha  and on the basis of a strong unity of the working class and the peasantry to advance for an alternative.

The conference deliberated at length on the report presented by the general secretary, Hannan Mollah. There were in all 65 speakers from 26 states who took part in the discussion on the report; the discussion being held in two parts, one on political, agrarian scenario and movements; the other on organisation. Altogether 800 delegates, the members of the central kisan committee, observers and fraternal delegates attended the conference. Delegates brought to light the burning issues faced by the peasantry in their states, the organisational status, movements and efforts to strengthen the organisation. The conference called for massive independent and united struggles against the BJP government, neoliberal economic policies, communal and fascist forces that threaten indian masses backed by strong and effective political-ideological campaigns, and a determined drive to strengthen the organisation. The conference called for united movement with the CITU and the AIAWU and Parliament March on April 5, 2023 as decided in the Mazdoor-Kisan Mahadhiveshan on September 5, 2022. It decided to hold joint conventions in all states, padayatras and campaigns with the aim of mobilising lakhs of workers and peasants. For the first time ever about 20 fraternal delegates from AIAWU, CITU, AIDWA, DSMM, AARM attended the conference in a move emphasising the need for the broadest unity of class and mass organisations.

In a shocking case of intervention by the BJP government fraternal delegates from Trade Union International in Agriculture affiliated to the World Federation of Trade Unions were denied permission to attend the conference and were returned back from Kochi Airport citing visa violations. The all India conference condemned this move by the ministry of external affairs and passed a resolution against this retrograde, undemocratic move violating all norms. Notably, a fraternal delegate from Iran for the conference of All India Trade Union Congress was also similarly sent back the very next day. This kind of blatant intervention in democratic functioning of organisations is unacceptable.

On December 15, 2022 an important seminar was held on the topic ‘Agrarian Crisis, Peasant Struggle and Alternatives’, addressed by Prof. Prabhat Patnaik, Prof. Jagmohan, nephew of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Prakash Karat, A Vijayaraghavan and presided over by Ashok Dhawale. The conference passed resolutions on different important issues: legal guarantee of minimum support prices, debt relief, crop insurance, labour codes, food security and strengthening PDS, rights of women farmers and agricultural workers, against dilution of MGNREGA, human-wildlife conflict, implementation of the Forest Rights Act and against dilution of forest rights, climate change and peasantry in India, on sugarcane farmers and against implementation of the recommendations of the Rangarajan Committee and for remunerative prices, on problems of dairy farmers, against sale of resources in the name of National Monetisation Pipeline, on the crisis in the fertilizer sector, against the Electricity (Amendment) Bill and on problems faced by apple farmers.

There were three commissions which had resource persons presenting detailed papers on three important topics that concern the peasantry in India. Prof. Surajit Mazumdar was the convenor of the commission on finance capital and the corporate penetration of Indian agriculture. Prof. Vikas Rawal was the convenor of the commission on statutory guarantee of minimum support prices and Prof. Ramakumar was the convenor of the commission on emerging issues in land policy in rural India. The entire delegation was divided into three parts; NK Shukla, Badal Saroj, Biplab Majumdar chaired the sessions respectively. After deliberations for about four hours, the convenors presented the details in a plenary session. These documents will be finalised by the central kisan committee and act as guiding documents for the All India Kisan Sabha.

The conference was greeted by AIAWU president A Vijayaraghavan, CITU president K Hemalata, AIDWA general secretary Mariam Dhawale, NPRD convenor Muralidharan, Delli Babu from Adivasi Adhikar Rashtriya Manch and Samuel Raj from Dalit Shoshan Mukti Manch. The main thrust in their address was for united, coordinated efforts to resist the anti-people policies of the BJP government and defeat efforts of the communal fascist forces to divide the country, undermine the constitution, secular principles and democratic rights.

A special session on united farmers’ movement was held in which leaders of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) Rakesh Tikait, Atul Kumar Anjaan and Rajaram Singh were felicitated. They emphasised the need for unity and launching a more intensified second phase of struggle. Darshan Pal and Joginder Singh Ugrahan who could not attend the conference due to health and unforeseen circumstances also conveyed their greetings. This special session drew an enthusiastic response from the delegates and strengthened the resolve for intensifying united struggles.

A special performance of the Veera Telangana by the Praja Natya Mandali and dances, songs and fusion music in between sessions were also a huge draw.  A book on the historic farmers’ struggles with articles written by different leaders and participants in the struggle titled Farmers’ Movement: A Tale for Times to Come by the P Sundarayya Memorial Trust was released by Hannan Mollah by handing over a copy to renowned economist Prof. Venkatesh Athreya. The conference souvenir comprising several articles from leaders was released by E P Jayarajan by giving a copy to Ashok Dhawale.

The conference re-emphasised its slogan struggle, consolidate, advance for an alternative and decided to intensify united struggles, further strengthen the organisation and on the basis of organisational consolidation as well as strong worker-peasant unity to advance for an alternative. 

The credentials report placed by Pabitra Kar showed that 27 per cent of the delegates were below 50 years and 48 per cent between the age 51-65 years. In all, 334 delegates belonged to agricultural worker or poor peasant background and 280 belonged to the middle peasantry which together constituted 81 per cent of the delegation. Participation from oppressed social classes was the maximum at 498 or 57 per cent of all delegates. Oldest delegate was S Malla Reddy aged 85 years and the youngest delegates were Shubhojeet Dey and Gurusewak Singh aged 25 years.

The conference unanimously elected a 149 member All India Kisan Council and a 77 member central kisan committee with 21 office bearers as follows: Ashok Dhawale as president; Vijoo Krishnan as general secretary; P Krishnaprasad as finance secretary; Hannan Mollah, Amra Ram, E P Jayarajan, S K Preeja, Amal Haldar, Biplav Majumdar, P Shanmugham, M Vijayakumar, Inderjit Singh as vice presidents; and Badal Saroj, Valsan Panoli, Pabitra Kar, Mukut Singh,                  T Sagar, D Raveendran, Ajit Nawale, Awadhesh Kumar and Vinod Kumar as joint secretaries.   

The newly re-elected president Ashok Dhawale briefly addressed the conference, laid down the immediate future tasks after this conference, and thanked the organising committee and Kerala Karshaka Sangham for the excellent arrangements that facilitated the success of the conference. The newly elected general secretary Vijoo Krishnan called for building united struggles that will sow fear in the minds of the class enemies and hope in the minds of the friends of the people. The delegate session of the conference concluded with resounding slogans.