The Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Mahasabha, held its second national conference on 24-25 Feb at Mansa (Punjab) where important questions like the agricultural crisis, agricultural land grabbing by corporate houses, and farmers’ suicides were discussed.
Addressing the meeting at the rally CPI-ML General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya said that just before the Lok Sabha elections attempts are being made to focus all attention around the persona of aspiring PM candidates. But forces fighting for the rights of workers and farmers will have to do their utmost to endure that these elections are centred on the need to change those policies which for the past 20 years have destroyed the lives of the country’s farmers, workers, students and youth. He said that Ambani-Adani, all the national and multinational corporate houses, and the US want that after looting maximum benefits from the Manmohan regime, they can now loot even more if Modi comes to power. Ten years ago it was NDA government in power and farmers were committing suicide even then, mass murder was being perpetrated in Modi’s Gujarat, and the NDA was boasting of “India Shining”. The Congress came to power with the slogan “Congress ka hath aam admi ke sath” but the Congress cheated the aam admi of his hard earned earnings. This time the Congress’ slogan is “Har hath shakti, har hath tarakki” but the hands and pockets of the working people are empty. Into whose hands then have the benefits of “tarakki” (progress) gone? Com. Dipankar stressed that the country’s farmers, workers and youth want their rights; the common people want their rightful space in democracy. The country has never faced the problem of not being able to form a government and have a PM but a government which does not solve the common people’s problems will not be allowed to run.
Com. Dipankar said that the Muzaffarnagar riots were an example of the BJP’s attempts to grab power through dividing the country. Farmers had to bear the brunt of the adverse effects of the riots. While the sugar cane farmer is in dire straits, the sugar mill owners are raking in huge profits. Advocating a pervasive unity among forces of struggle Com. Dipankar said that when power hungry forces are uniting to divide hearts and society, they can be stopped only by the cohesive unity of forces fighting for the rights of farmers, workers, dalits, adivasis, women, and minorities.
A day prior to this rally of farmers and farm workers, Modi had held a rally in Punjab. Comparing both the rallies, CPM (Punjab) Secretary Com. Mangat Ram Pasla said that this working people’s rally is a befitting reply to Modi’s rally funded by the rich, blackmarketeers, land grabbers and drug dealers. Commenting on the Third Front Com. Pasla said that the CPI and CPM may win a few seats here and there by tagging on to corrupt opportunists like Mulayam, Nitish, and Jayalalithaa but principles will be sacrificed in the process. He said that a fighting Front of farmers, workers, and small shopkeepers is the need of the hour.
AIKMS National President Com. Ruldu Singh said that only 8% of the people in this country lead a life of comfort. These people have captured all resources including political power and factories. The other 92% farmers, workers, and small shopkeepers live in a state of want. Therefore we have to rise above caste and religion and convert this majority into a united class. If 92% are united for their rights, they can easily overcome the rich 8%. He stressed that land rights belong to farmers and not to corporate houses.
National General Secretary of Kisan Mahasabha Com. Rajaram Singh said that the economic policies of the last 20 years have pushed agriculture into loss and farmers into the quagmire of debt. The loot of agricultural land by national and multi-national corporate houses will increase the food insecurity in the country. The use of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes is pushing the country towards starvation. He said that the country needs a Land Conservation Bill instead of a Land Acquisition Bill.
There was a time when Western UP was a stronghold for the kisan movement. But the recent Muzaffarnagar riots have changed this centre of farmers’ struggle into a land of riots. These riots have seen veteran kisan leader Mahendra Singh Tikait’s organization Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Union and his sons Naresh Tikait and Rakesh turn into riot leaders. These colours of the Tikait sons have broken the kisan union. Long time confidant of Mahendra Singh Tikait, Ghulam Mohammad Jaula, grieved by this riot-inciting face of the Tikait brothers, has broken away to form his own organization Kisan Mazdoor Ekta Manch. Addressing the rally in Mansa Ghulam Mohammad Jaula said that the Muzaffarnagar riots, which most affected workers and especially farm workers, were engineered for the sole purpose of electoral gains. Strongly conveying the message of communal harmony Jaula said that though his ancestors had changed religion generations ago, the blood running through his veins also was after all the blood of this soil. He stressed that mischief mongering forces could be defeated by the unity of workers and farmers.
Prior to the convention a mazdoor-kisan ekta rally was held in Mansa town in which thousands of workers and farmers participated. The rally started with the singing of revolutionary songs, after which a play “Boycott” written and produced by noted playwright and actor of Punjab Samuel John, was staged showing how the farm worker, beset by rising prices, asks the rich farmers to increase the “lavai” rates only to be rebuffed not only by the rich farmers but by everyone from administration to dharmagurus. Playwright Samuel John has rightly commented that the moment the workers stand up for their rights it is branded as a caste issue. The play shows how the rich farmers who are from the upper castes boycott the farm workers who come from the so-called lower castes and how the leaders of the workers are arrested on trumped up charges of being Naxalites and Maoists. The play ends with the message that the united struggle of workers and farmers will triumph in the end. Actor Balwinder, skilled in mono-acting, convincingly played the roles of farm worker, rich farmer Bakhtawar Singh, Granthi of the Gurudwara, and police personnel.
Farmers and workers, women and men who participated in the rally marched through Mansa town and the entire town echoed with the reverberations of their revolutionary slogans.
The delegates’ session of the kisan mahasabha began after the rally with the flag hoisting by veteran kisan leaders of Punjab Com. Gamdura Singh and Com. Kripal Singh Veer, whose entire lives have been committed to farmers’ struggles. Inaugurating the delegates’ session CPI-ML General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya said that the government has declared war on farmers in order to grab agricultural land in connivance with national and multi-national corporate houses. As land is a resource which cannot be reproduced, corporate powers are doing everything possible to evict farmers and grab their lands. The new Land Acquisition Bill is also a facilitator in this process of evicting farmers from their land. He stressed that this war which has been imposed upon the farmers can be won only through organizational unity. He said that during the Green Revolution only big farmers’ agitations were considered to be agitations but the kind of crisis looming over agriculture and farmers today can be fought only by organized struggles of small and medium farmers.
About 400 selected delegates from 15 States participated in the convention. Through their talks the delegates threw light on the special characteristics and problems faced by the farmers’ movement in the different States.
Com. Taramani Roy of the CPRM (Darjeeling) said that the government in place is constantly trying to break the unity of the democratic movement of the Gorkhas in Darjeeling. He pointed out that agriculture in Darjeeling is totally dependent on the rains, and the Gorkha people are also going through an identity crisis.
Com. Rajendra Bhimji Bhauke of the Lal Nishan Party (Leninist) from Maharashtra told that the compensation for crops destroyed by wild animals given today by the government is still the same amount which was given during British times. He also said that agriculture used to be second in priority for water supply after drinking water, but now this priority has been changed and industry has been given second priority instead of agriculture. Com. Balbir Singh of the Jamhuri Kisan Sabha (Punjab) spoke in detail about the history of revolutionary kisan movements in Punjab and pledged to stand united with the AIKMS.
Leader of anti-POSCO agitation Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti shared his experiences of the movement with the convention. He said that governments are supposed to be for the welfare of the people but during the anti-Posco movement it became clear to us that this government does not care anything for us.
Concluding the discussion on the document Rajaram Singh said that it is the responsibility of the Kisan Mahasabha not only to fight for farmers’ rights but also for the equal rights of women and against caste and religious prejudices and all archaic and outdated values and beliefs.
At the close of the convention kisan representatives were elected to a 111 member council and 41 member executive to lead the farmers’ struggles in the country. Com. Ruldu Singh and Com. Rajaram Singh were re-elected President and General Secretary respectively. Various political and organizational resolutions were adopted by the convention which came to a close with the singing of “Hum Honge Kaamyaab”.