Poor peasants are waging the largest struggle in modern history against the reactionary BJP government
Statement of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 22.12.2020, www.thecommunists.net
1. India’s kissans (peasants) are waging a massive Bharat Bandh (as a national shutdown or general strike is called in India) against three neo-liberal agricultural laws of the Modi government. These kali kanoon (black laws, as the peasants call it) are basically aimed at liberalizing trade with peasants’ products by undermining the Agricultural Produce Market Committee mandis which guarantees peasants a minimum support price and also sets limits to retail prices. In addition to repealing the three new laws, the peasants demand making minimum support price and state procurement a legal right, assurance of continuation of conventional procurement system, implement MS Swaminathan formula of price of produce at 50% additional to the cost of production, reduction of diesel price for agriculture purpose by 50% and abolition of electricity ordinance 2020.
2. The new agricultural laws are a massive attack on the interests of India’ poor peasants. The liberalization of agricultural trade only serves the interests of big monopolies. Unsurprisingly, some of the county’s most powerful capitalists like Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani are strong advocates of the reform and make their influence felt as Modi’s closest corporate allies. All this demonstrates once more that the Modi government is “populist” in words only but, in deeds, it is a servant of the super-rich and an enemy of the people!
3. The peasants’ mass struggle has been launched under the historic slogan “Dilli Chalo” (Let's go to Delhi) which was invented by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose who played a leading role in India’s liberation struggle against the British colonial occupation. The largest protests have taken place in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh but demonstrations were also reported in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Kerala and other states. A high point has been the one-day general strike of 250 million workers and peasants across India on 26 November 2020 in opposition to both the farm laws as well as proposed changes to labour law. This has been the largest general strike in the history of humanity. Since then about tens of thousands of peasants – sometimes hundreds of thousands – have created camps and blockade roads around New Delhi. Another mass strike was waged on 8 December. Clashes and street battles between the peasants and police take regularly place. The peasant activists are withstanding freezing weather with temperatures dropping to 2-3 degree Celsius. Nearly 30 people have already died, several of them as a result of freezing weather.
4. It is a remarkable feature of the struggle that female peasants play a key role. They suffer from double oppression as they are not only discriminated as poor peasants but also because of their gender. According to Mahila Kisan Adhikaar Manch, an Indian forum that campaigns for the rights of female farmers, 75% of all farm work is conducted by women yet they own only 12% of the land!
5. The “Dilli Chalo” uprising is the most serious challenge to the reactionary Modi government since 2014. With nearly 60% of the Indian population depending on agriculture for their livelihoods, the growing rebellion has attracted wide support. Trade unions, major opposition parties like Congress and the Communist Parties, state governments and figures like former Miss Universe Gul Panag support the protests. Public pressure has become so strong that even India’s Supreme Court expressed concern that protests could spread across the country and suggested suspension of the three laws until a committee of farmers, agriculture experts and officials work out a solution.
6. The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) strongly welcomes the peasant uprising! As the government wants to hold out and demoralize the peasants due to bad weather conditions, it is urgent to widen and escalate the struggle. It is necessary to organize another Bharat Bandh but not only for one day but for so long until the government accepts the protesters demands!
7. Revolutionaries should call the workers trade union to join the struggle so that they can both repel the proposed changes to labour law as well as help the peasants to realize their demands. In order to avoid a sell out by the bureaucratic leadership of the unions, it is urgent to create a leadership (with a significant proportion of women) based on delegates elected by the rank and file peasants. Likewise it is important to build self-defense committees defending the masses against the police.
8. Revolutionaries should also agitate among the peasants against all forms of chauvinism in order to build solidarity with the Muslim minority as well as with the oppressed people of Kashmir. This is particularly important as both have been major targets of the reactionary Hindutva chauvinist Modi government. They should also explain that the only lasting solution is a popular insurrection to overthrow the government and to create a workers and poor peasants government based on popular committees of action. Such a government would expropriate the capitalist class and move forward towards a rationally planned socialist society.
9. In order to implement such a perspective, revolutionaries need to unite in building a revolutionary party as part of a Revolutionary World Party! We urge activists to unite on the basis of a program of socialist revolution and international solidarity with the struggles of workers and oppressed in other countries. Join the RCIT in tackling this great task!
International Bureau of the RCIT
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The RCIT has published a number of documents on India that can be accessed on our website here: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/asia.
In particular we refer to:
RCIT: China-India Border Conflict: Down with Chauvinist Warmongering on Both Sides! Support the national rights of the Kashmiri and the Nepalese people! 28 May 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/asia/china-india-border-conflict-down-with-chauvinist-warmongering-on-both-sides/
Michael Pröbsting: “Unite to Protect India’s Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity”? Chauvinist escapade of social-patriotic Stalinists in the light of the China-India border conflict, 29 June 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/asia/indian-social-patriotic-stalinists-and-the-china-india-border-conflict-june-2020/
RCIT statement: India: Down with CAB! Solidarity with the uprising of the Assamese people! 14 December 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/asia/india-down-with-cab/
We refer reader also to our documents on the Kashmiri liberation struggle which are collected in a special sub-section on our website: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/asia/collection-of-articles-on-the-liberation-struggle-in-kashmir/