Grassroots Mobilisation and Building Solidarity
A R Sindhu
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ON-ground mobilisation to make the second 'Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh Rally' truly massive in scale is being coordinated by thousands of activists of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), and All India Agricultural Workers Union (AIAWU) for over six months. This rally is poised to become one of the largest mobilisations of working classes in the history of independent India and will serve as a critical step towards building class unity at the grassroots level.
The idea for the rally was conceived during a joint meeting of CITU, AIKS, and AIAWU held in April 2022 in Kannur, Kerala. The plan was solidified in May 2022, and a joint campaign was launched in June 2022 to address issues such as price rise, employment, health for all, housing, free education, statutory MSP and assured government procurement, loan waiver, privatisation, labour codes, MNREGA expansion, social justice, upholding people's unity, and defeating poisonous communal divisive forces. An extensive joint fortnight-long nationwide campaign was organised from August 1-14, 2022, culminating in 'Samuhik Jagaran' on the night of August 14th, commemorating the completion of 75 years of India's independence. Massive joint district and local-level mobilisations were organised on August 9, commemorating 'Quit India Day.'
Following the campaign, a massive national convention called the 'Mazdoor Kisan Adhikar Mahadhiveshan' was held in Delhi on September 5, 2022, which was the fourth anniversary of the previous rally held in 2018. The convention was attended by over five thousand delegates from various states from all districts where the organisations have units. In addition to CITU, AIKS, and AIAWU, the convention was also attended by service sector trade unions representing state and central government employees, insurance, bank, and BSNL employees such as AISGEF, CCGEW, AIIEA, BEFI, and BSNLEU. During the convention, a declaration was adopted that addressed the issues of all sections of the population, and a charter of demands and a plan of action with a timeline were finalised. The date for the rally was ultimately finalised in November.
State-level joint meetings of the leadership of the three organisations were held to plan the activities, followed by state and district-level conventions or joint meetings in all states. During this period, local/union, district, and state conferences of CITU, AIKS, and AIAWU were held before the all-India conferences. The organisational planning and massive campaigns were taken up simultaneously. Millions of leaflets have been printed and distributed throughout the country, covering a range of issues affecting workers, peasants, and agricultural workers. In addition to joint leaflets and posters, materials focusing on local and sectoral issues have also been distributed. The campaign aims to double the membership of the organisations and has been designed to reach as many people as possible.
Joint padayatras and jathas are currently being organised in various states to cover as many villages as possible. These jathas and padayatras have received a positive response from common people who have been severely impacted by issues such as price rise, job losses, cuts in ration and subsidies, etc. Furthermore, door-to-door campaigns and house visits are being conducted to reach one crore households throughout the country.
PREPARATIONS IN DELHI
The preparations for the rally in Delhi are in full swing, to ensure the success of the upcoming rally. This began with a meeting of various mass organisations on February 4, 2023, followed by the formation of a reception committee on February 24, 2023. The committee is led by the eminent professor, Prabhat Patnaik.
To accommodate participants, two camps are being set up in Ghaziabad and Faridabad, respectively, and separate reception committees have been formed locally to handle their accommodations. Negotiations with the police are currently underway to finalise the venue for the rally.
Various sub-committees have been formed to handle different aspects of the preparations for the rally, including accommodation, rally arrangements, media, volunteers, railway stations, transport, finance and purchase, campaign and decoration, propaganda, and medical.
Along with logistical arrangements, efforts are also being made to mobilise people through cultural activities and jansabhas. A committee led by Jana Natya Manch, SAHMAT, Janwadi Lekhak Sangh, Jansanskriti, Dastak, and Bangla Manch is organising cultural events in and around Delhi to reach out to people. In addition to cultural activities, Jansabhas are also being organised across various locations to highlight the government's failures in providing basic amenities to the people and exposing policies.
BUILDING LOCAL STRUGGLES
During this period, numerous sectoral and local struggles were being organised, led by organisations such as CITU, AIKS, and AIAWU, as well as affiliated trade unions, both independently and collaboratively. The strikes of electricity workers in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh over the past three months were successful in securing concessions from the BJP governments in response to the demands of the working class.
Other notable struggles during this period included strikes by government employees in Maharashtra, as well as strikes by anganwadi workers in various states such as Karnataka, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, and Telangana, as well as struggles by ASHA and Mid-Day Meal workers in states including Haryana, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra. The second kisan long march of Nashik peasants also highlighted the effectiveness of organised and sustained struggles.
These efforts aim to build a strong and joint front of the basic classes and bring their struggles to the forefront. The mobilisation for the rally is not just about one day of protests but a sustained struggle.
The Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh Rally 2018 paved the way to bring together the two joint platforms – the joint platform of central trade unions and federations, and the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, which later expanded to the Samyukta Kisan Morcha. The joint struggles that emerged during the pandemic against the labour codes and farm laws were consolidated and advanced into the historic kisan struggle and established the leadership of class struggles above identity politics-based struggles in the anti-neoliberal movement. This was built through the joint efforts of CITU, AIKS, and AIAWU. With the unconditional support of the trade union movement for the farmers' cause, this struggle brought a qualitative change in the anti-neoliberal, anti-corporate, and anti-communal movement in our country by advancing the unity of the basic classes, the peasantry, and the working class, apart from developing a unity of the peasant classes.
Advancing further, the struggle planned for April 5, 2023, is not just a one-day mobilisation in the capital, but a landmark in developing sustained struggles of the basic classes on state/regional/local-specific issues and demands, along with national demands. Through the campaign's efforts to reach out to the masses, attempts are being made to build state/regional/local level joint and sustained struggles. This not only helps to build unity but also brings out the class and social conflicts and contradictions at various levels that need to be addressed in depth. Given the systemic crisis of capitalism and the opportunities it provides to the class movement, this will be developed as an anti-corporate movement against the hegemony of finance capital. This is, of course, the only way to counter the advance of the corporate-communal nexus in our country beyond the 2024 elections.
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