Defying widespread opposition and peasant demonstrations across the country, the Modi government has gone ahead to table the land acquisition bill in the Lok Sabha. Given the numerical balance in the Lok Sabha, the bill has also been passed. For the sake of pretence, the government did propose a few amendments claiming to accommodate the key concerns of agitated peasants, but nothing could be farther from the truth. The government is still very much adamant on grabbing fertile land without consent, without doing any social and environmental impact assessment, without bothering about the wider loss of livelihood resulting from every such acquisition and refusing to return land once acquired even if it remains idle and never used for the stated purpose of acquisition.
The autocratic and arrogant attitude of the Modi government has only added to the seething anger among peasants, adivasis and every justice-loving citizen of the country and the protests have intensified. Hundreds of activists assembled in Delhi in a conference on 14-15 March and resolved to come together under the banner of All India People’s Forum to resist the corporate-communal offensive being spearheaded by the Modi government. This was followed by a resolute assembly of the people – a People’s Parliament – armed with resolutions adopted at thousands of Gram Sabhas across the country rejecting the Land Grab Bill and the Modi government’s move to curtail and subvert the provisions of Food Security and Employment Guarantee Acts. And the Jan Sansad resolved to conduct a 100-day-long Bhumi Adhikar-Shram Adhikar Sangharsh Abhiyan (campaign of struggle for land and labour rights) from 23 March (martyrdom day of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru) to 30 June (Hul Diwas – anniversary of the anti-colonial adivasi Hul resistance movement of 1855).
This is perhaps the first time that democratic forces from such diverse progressive traditions and practices – communists, socialists as well as issue-based social movements – have come together to work in a common platform, a platform which brings together not only communist parties and various other Left and socialist groups and a whole spectrum of mass organisations and campaigns but also individual activists and conscientious citizens without any specific organisational affiliation who are engaged in various fields of creative activities and democratic protests. This convergence reflects and reinforces the growing realisation that the current juncture calls for a concerted and determined counter-offensive by all committed democratic forces to reclaim our resources, our rights and our republic from the forces of corporate greed, plunder and subversion.
We are passing through a period of massive socio-economic changes and churning. The policies and laws are being rewritten in this country in the explicit interest of big private corporate players and the common people who constitute the vast majority of real producers, workers and consumers in this country are being systematically marginalised and deprived of their rightful share. To be sure, there is no dearth of protests and struggles amidst growing popular anger, and the need of the hour is to orientate it towards a pro-people progressive shift in the political arena. The ‘Modi wave’ which had catapulted the BJP to power in the last Lok Sabha election is clearly on the wane and the time has come to confront the government and the Sangh brigade with the surging tides of people’s resistance.
The spirit of unity and resolve of concerted and determined struggle that resonated through the AIPF conference and the Jan Sansad must now be carried forward to every nook and corner. The message must reach every defender of democracy, every seeker of change, every fighter for justice.
Land-Food-Livelihood – Resist Corporate Loot!
Call of Every Village, Every Town – Company Raj Down, Down!