December 10, 2023
SKM-CTUs Mahapadav Calls for Ousting the Modi Govt

Arka Rajpandit

LAKHS of workers and peasants from across the nation participated in the historic first ever three-day joint mahapadav from November 26-28, 2023, called by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha  and Central Trade Unions in front of the Raj Bhawans  protesting against the anti-worker, anti-farmer, anti-people policies of the Modi led BJP government.  The historic mahapadav called for ousting this ruling regime which is harming the Indian economy, making lives of common people miserable with steep price rise of essential commodities, growing job-loss and increased unemployment, expensive education and healthcare, no subsidy on inputs and no MSP for the farmers’ produce.

The militant mahapadav has put forth a charter of demands of the working people of the country such as, ensuring minimum wages of Rs 26,000 per month and pension of Rs10,000 to all workers;  legal guarantee to MSP at C2+50 per cent for all farm produce with guaranteed procurement; scrapping the four labour codes and Electricity Amendment Bill 2020, providing 200 workdays at wages of Rs 600 per day under MNREGA with expansion to urban areas and one time loan waiver to poor and middle peasants and agricultural workers. In most state capitals, SKM-CTUs submitted a memorandum of demands to the governors. The mahapadav garnered good momentum in almost all states including Kerala, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Tripura, Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and other states.

The magnificent mahapadav of the basic classes will give an impetus to the entire working people of India to further widen and consolidate the class unity and heighten the militancy of the joint struggle to take on the policy offensive of the ruling classes. The historic mahapadav also sent a clear message: only through incessant joint actions of wealth producing classes of the society the balance of class forces can be changed in favour of the workers and peasants.

The historic first ever joint convention of the Central Trade Unions and Samyukta Kisan Morcha – an umbrella platform of hundreds of farmers organisations was held at Talkatora Stadium in New Delhi on August 24, 2023, which called for observing  October 3 (Lakhimpur Kheri massacre in 2021) as Black day, demanding dismissal and prosecution of the alleged conspirator, the minister of state for home affairs, Ajay Mishra Teni and to have mahapadav struggle in front of the Raj Bhawans in the state capitals of all the states and union territories, from November 26-28, 2023. The convention also decided to conduct determined and decisive protest actions in the months of December 2023 - January 2024.

Prior to this joint mahapadav of SKM-CTUs, worker-peasant unity has been cemented through umpteen solidarity actions. The historic farmers struggle witnessed massive active support and solidarity actions by the working class movements countrywide with CITU in the frontline. All the programmes of sit-in demonstrations, agitations, bandhs spearheaded by the SKM, were profoundly supported by the entire working class movement. In this process, in all subsequent occasions, SKM also extended their unfettered support to the struggles and agitations organised by the joint platform of trade unions. These struggles and agitations by the two producing classes further consolidated the worker-peasant unity in action against their common enemy – the corporate communal nexus in the government. Every aspect of the struggles exhibited durable visibility.

At this juncture, the joint platform of trade unions and the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, pledged to bring back people’s issues to the centre of socio-political discourse and also to combat and defeat this horrible regime. The militant mahapadav asserted that that what is required is to make the workers, farmers and the people aware that their real enemy, the cause for their miseries and the miseries of the nation, is the anti-national destructive policy regime being operated by the corporate-communal nexus in the governance at the centre.  This government and other state governments led by this party ruling at the centre, in order to sustain their regime of loot and plunder, have been overactive to cultivate poisonous communal-divisive polarisation in the society and divide the workers, farmers and the people in general to divert their attention from their burning issues and weaken united struggles to benefit the corporates. This is being carried out with the active support of the corporate owned mainstream media and social media troll armies.

The joint convention adopted a 21-point charter of demands. To take these demands to the workers, peasants, agricultural workers and other toiling sections of working people, all units and contingents of SKM and CTUs have carried out extensive and intensive campaign through distribution of leaflets, posters, wall writing, group meetings, jathas, processions etc on the issues. Joint convention of SKM and CTUs were held in a number of states; in almost all states, joint conventions of CITU-SKM-AIAWU were held at the district level also. As per the call of the convention, joint state level meetings of CITU, AIKS and AIAWU were held in 14 states, planning and preparing for the Black Day and the mahapadav. CITU emphasised on independent campaign along with joint campaign in the respective platforms as well.

During the four month preparatory campaign period, CITU organisers and activists reached out to a maximum number of workers to popularise the charter of demands. The joint charter of demands contains a comprehensive list of workers demands including the rollback of the four labour codes, social security for all, withdrawal of the Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2022, an end to contractualisation, and a halt to the privatisation of public sector companies. Other demands include setting minimum wages, amending ESI, EPF, and bonus laws, and creating social security schemes for unorganised sector workers. The protesters also sought recognition of worker status for various sectors, ensuring their rights and safety measures in their workplaces. CITU organisers also tried to develop class consciousness among the workers so that they could understand that their plight and miseries are linked with the policies of the corporate-communal RSS-BJP regime. During the mahapadav campaign, CITU reached factories, work sites, workers’ mohallas in a large number; tens of thousands of workers participated in the general body meetings. CITU organisers reached to the mass of workers with leaflets, pamphlets, displayed demands on hoardings, banners etc. In several states, there were wall writings, rallies, and street-corners meetings.

The relentless and tireless campaign efforts resulted in a successful mahapadav mobilisation. There was mammoth people’s participation in the state capitals including Trivandrum, Kolkata, Agartala, Bhubaneswar, Chennai, Panchakula, Patna, Ranchi, Mumbai etc. In Kerala, the mahapadav was inaugurated by A Vijay Raghvan, all India president of AIAWU; in Kerala, mahapadav witnessed gigantic mobilisations of workers and farmers. In West Bengal, around 30,000 workers, peasants and agricultural workers participated in the mahapadav in front of Raj Bhawan in South Bengal; similar mobilisation was held in Siliguri engaging the north Bengal districts on the concluding day, November 28, and it was addressed by CITU general secretary Tapan sen and AIKS national vice-president Hannan Mollah. In Karnataka, the mahapadav saw a massive mobilisation at Bangalore Freedom Park. The first day was called ‘sankalp day’ and the second and the third day was called ‘sangharsh day’ and ‘sandesha Day’; around 35,000 workers and peasants participated and CITU national secretary KN Umesh addressed the mahapadav. In Tamil Nadu, thousands of workers and peasants took part in the mahapadav, AIKS general secretary Vijoo Krishnan, Tamil Nadu CITU state president A Soundararajan addressed the mahapadav. In Jammu & Kashmir, on November 26, 2023 a protest demonstration was held at Press Colony of Srinagar city. The protesters were addressed by MY Tarigami, president of state CITU, Ghulam Navi state general secretary, J&K Kisan Tehrik. On November 28, 2023 a protest demonstration was also held at Maharaja Hari Singh Ji Park, Jammu and the protesters were addressed  MY Tarigami,  and  Kishore Kumar, president of J&K Kisan Tehrik.

Mahatma Gandhi Marg of PMG, Bhubaneswar witnessed massive mobilisation on the concluding day of November 28; leaders of CITU, SKM, different kisan, tribal organisations spoke elaborately at length. A well attended joint public meeting was organised at Mumbai’s Azad Maidan on November 28, 2023. An estimated 4000 workers participated in the meeting. A large number of women workers particularly from Anganwadi and ASHA workers took part in the meeting. The public meeting was addressed by CITU, AITUC, INTUC, HMS, Kamgar Sena, NTUI, and AICCTU leaders. Impressive mobilisations were also seen in Solapur, Nasik, Aurangabad, Jalna, Nagpur, Amaravati, Thane and many districts.  CITU Andaman & Nicobar state committee organiSed a mass dharna at Tiranga Park, Port Blair; hundreds of workers from different parts of Port Blair and South Andaman areas participated in the mass dharna.  In Bihar, immense gathering was organised, the meeting was addressed by CITU national secretary AR Sindhu and other farmer leaders. In Delhi, hundreds of workers and farmers congregated outside the Lieutenant Governor's residence on November 26. CITU Delhi general secretary Anurag Saxena and Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Daljit addressed the mahapadav. Massive mobilisations were also seen in Tripura, Haryana, Punjab, Assam, Chhattishgarh, Gujarat and other states.

The mahapadav underlined that it is an ongoing protracted struggle to change these anti-people, anti-worker and anti-farmer policies. United counter attack along with a consistent struggle to protect and advance the just rights of working people and firm persistent struggles against communal divisive machinations can only halt the BJP-RSS juggernaut.