SKM calls for massive Mahapanchayat at Ramlila Maidan in Delhi on March 14, denounces BJP Regime’s repression on farmers, and MP ticket to Ajay Mishra Teni

The last month has seen a strong resurgence of the farmers’ movement in the country. It has also seen an equally repressive push-back by the BJP-RSS regime against farmers, which has led to the deaths of two farmer so far, and many more seriously injured.
Image: PTI

The repression by the BJP-RSS regime, both by the union government and the Haryana government has been widely condemned nationwide.

One of the martyrs is 79-year old Gian Singh, who died of a heart attack on February 16, 2024 while protesting at the Shambhu border; the second martyr is 21-year old Shubhkaran Singh, who was shot dead by the trigger-happy police of the BJP controlled Haryana government on February 21 at the Khanauri border. Both these borders separate Punjab from Haryana.

These killings were preceded by the shocking act on February 13 of throwing tear gas shells on farmers from drones at the Shambhu and Khanauri borders, firing pellets and rubber bullets, unleashing lathi charges, making arbitrary arrests, and erecting huge iron spikes, barbed wire, and concrete barricades on the highways, just to prevent the farmers from marching to Delhi.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), the Central Trade Unions (CTU), and several left and secular political parties have strongly denounced the BJP-RSS government for its savage repression. The SKM and CTU also condemned the February 13 repression on farmers during the nationwide rural Bharat Bandh and industrial strike on February 16, a protest that was announced to focus on their pressing demands.

The SKM and CTU also denounced the cold-blooded murder by the Haryana police of the young farmer Shubhkaran Singh through nationwide protests on February 23. In this connection, the SKM also demanded the resignation of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, and Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij.

Cynical immorality

As if this violent state repression was not shocking enough, the brazen decision of the BJP –taken on March 3 –to award a ticket from Lakhimpur-Kheri, to Ajay Mishra Teni, the sitting member of parliament (MP) for contesting the coming Parliament elections is more than telling. Teni and his son were accused of the brutal massacre, (by running down) of four farmers and one journalist on October 3, 2021. Ajay Mishra Teni remains the Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, more than two and a half years after he and his son have been accused of crushing and killing four farmers and a journalist under their cars and severely injured many other. This incident took place when on October 3, 2021, when the SKM-led nationwide farmers’ struggle against the three black Farm Laws was still ongoing.

While such an incident and the following non-accountability would be unheard of in a functioning, civilised democracy, in the India under this dispensation, Ajay Mishra Teni remains in Parliament rather than in jail. It may be recalled that the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, incidentally a Tory, was forced to resign from his high post because he was hosting drunken parties at his official residence 10 Downing Street in London when the nation was reeling under the Covid pandemic. In stark contrast, by “rewarding” Ajay Mishra Teni a ticket to Parliament—a man accused of the brute running down of four farmers and a journalist– Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, and the entire BJP-RSS top brass have not only displayed their utterly cynical immorality, but they have also insulted the entire farmer community of India and rubbed salt into their wounds.

SKM-CTU struggle calls get enthusiastic response 

The SKM National Coordination Committee and the General Body which met at Chandigarh on February 22 took a number of important decisions. It briefly reviewed the massive success of the January 26 Nationwide Tractor Parades and the February 16 Rural Bharat Bandh and Industrial Strike.

Both these SKM-CTU actions, the Chalo Delhi call by other organisations (we are at the moment refraining from commenting on these organisations for the sake of forging farmers’ unity) and the repression by the government, served two vital purposes. One, they brought home to the entire country that the struggle of farmers and workers for their rights was far from over and would be intensified. Two, all these struggles succeeded in partly neutralising the impact of the January 22 Ayodhya Ram Mandir inauguration spectacle.

The most important decision of the Chandigarh SKM meeting was to organise a massive Mahapanchayat at the Ramlila Maidan on March 14. The CTU declared that it would also mobilise for this Mahapanchayat in solidarity. Hectic preparations are now underway to ensure that the March 14 programme is a great success, especially to ensure mass mobilisation from the North Indian states like Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. There will be representative mobilisation from the other states too. It will have to be seen what the response of the authoritarian Modi regime will be, but the SKM has decided to go ahead with the Mahapanchayat, come what may.

The other major decisions taken in the February 22 SKM Chandigarh meeting were: Nationwide Black Day protests denouncing the police murder of Shubhkaran Singh; and demonstrations all over the country on February 26, the day that the Ministerial Summit of the WTO began at Abu Dhabi, to warn against any likely surrender by India to WTO diktats to dilute the demands for a remunerative MSP and a strong and universal PDS. Tens of thousands of farmers participated in both these protest actions throughout the country.

The SKM Chandigarh General Body decided to form a six-member committee to hold consultations with all former SKM members to launch a united action plan for achieving farmers’ demands and develop issue-based unity and to unite all Kisan organisations which were part of the SKM. The members include Hannan Mollah, Joginder Singh Ugrahan, Balbeer Singh Rajewal, Yudhvir Singh, Darshan Pal and Raminder Patiala.

The main demands of the SKM-CTU joint struggle, adopted in the National Convention of Workers and Farmers at the Talkatora Stadium in Delhi on August 24, 2023 are as follows:

  • Minimum Support Price (MSP) @C2+50% for all crops with guaranteed procurement, Reduction by half of all input costs with restoration of fertilizer subsidy;
  • Complete loan waiver to small and middle farm households and agricultural workers to ensure their freedom from indebtedness;
  • Radical strengthening and expansion of the Public Distribution System (PDS);
  • Comprehensive pro-farmer crop insurance scheme to combat natural calamities;
  • No hike in electricity tariff, no to prepaid metres, 300 units free electricity to all rural households and shops;
  • Minimum wage of Rs 26,000 per month for workers;
  • Repeal of the four Labour Codes;
  • No privatisation of PSUs including Railway, Defence, Electricity, Coal, Oil, Steel, Telecom, Posts, Transport, Airports, Port & Docks;
  • Banks, Insurance, Education and Health, Employment must be made into a Fundamental Right;
  • No Contractualisation of jobs, Scrapping of Fixed Term Employment, Strengthen MGNREGS with 200 days’ work per person per year and Rs 600 as daily wage;
  • Restoration Old Pension Scheme, Pension and social security to all in formal and informal economy;
  • Welfare Boards for all categories of unorganised workers on the lines of Construction Workers Welfare Board;
  • Implementation of the LARR Act 2013 (Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013);
  • Implementation of the Forest Rights Act, dismissal of Ajay Mishra Teni and registration of murder case against him, among others.

The SKM also reiterated that it will carry forward the struggle against communalism, casteism and authoritarianism to save basic principles of democracy, secularism, federalism, and socialism enshrined in the Constitution of India.

Hypocrisy of the Modi Government Exposed 

On February 10, the Modi Government announced that India’s highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna, would be conferred on Choudhary Charan Singh and Dr M S Swaminathan. The AIKS exposed the Modi regime through the following press release: 

“The All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) is of the clear opinion that the BJP Central Government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi deciding to confer the Bharat Ratna Award on Choudhary Charan Singh and Dr M S Swaminathan on the eve of the 2024 general elections is the height of hypocrisy. By this step, the Modi regime is trying to hide its extreme anti-farmer, anti-agriculture, and pro-corporate policies of the last ten years. But farmers will see through its game, and it will never succeed in hoodwinking the rural populace.

“Firstly, it must be underlined that during the tenure of the Modi regime more than 750 farmers from different parts of the country were martyred during the year-long iconic and victorious nationwide farmers’ struggle against the three hated Farm Laws in 2020-21. Many families of these farmer martyrs have still got no compensation whatsoever, despite written assurances by the central government. The Modi regime is also the only government in independent India which has the ignominy of one of its own Union Ministers of State Ajay Mishra Teni being directly responsible for the crushing to death of four farmers and one journalist under cars directed by him at Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh, which is the native state of Choudhary Charan Singh, a renowned anti-feudal farmer leader himself. What is worse, this Minister, instead of being in jail for murder, still retains his post in the Modi Cabinet.

“As per the information of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) which is directly under the Union Home Ministry, over one lakh farmers and agricultural workers have been forced to commit suicide due to indebtedness in the last ten years of the Modi-led BJP government alone. The main reason for this terrible human tragedy is the outright refusal of this government to implement the most seminal recommendation of the National Commission on Farmers (NCF), headed by Dr M S Swaminathan, of giving a legal guarantee of Minimum Support Price (MSP) at one and a half times the comprehensive cost of production (C2 + 50%).

“The BJP Election Manifesto of 2014 had said that “it will enhance the profitability in agriculture, by ensuring a minimum of 50% net profit, cheaper agriculture inputs and credit”. The same assurance was given by Modi in over 400 election speeches during the campaign. But what did the government actually do after coming to power? On February 15, 2015 it filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court that it was not possible to increase the MSP for food grains and other farm produce to input cost plus 50% as it would “distort the market”. Ever since then, it has consistently refused to honour any of the Swaminathan Commission recommendations.

“The other assurance that was given by Modi in his 2014 election speeches was that of a loan waiver to the peasantry. But not a single rupee of peasants’ loans has been waived in the last ten years by the Modi-led central government. The Modi regime, while stubbornly refusing a peasant loan waiver, has written off loans worth over Rs 15 lakh crores that had been taken by a handful of its crony corporates.

“Modi’s talk of doubling farmers’ incomes in six years has also been exposed for the ‘jumla’ that it was in the first place. In fact, as the latest Union Budget has proved, there have been huge cuts in outlay on agriculture and allied sectors, including on food subsidy, fertiliser subsidy, irrigation, and also for MNREGA. It has also been recently revealed that the Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Ministry of the Modi regime shamelessly returned an amount of over Rs 1 lakh-crore that was earmarked for agriculture in the last five budgets.

“The entire thrust of the Modi government in the last ten years has been to fatten its crony corporates at the expense of the peasants and workers, and the entire country itself. This was seen in its attempt to steamroller the three Farm Laws, and earlier the reactionary amendments to the LARR 2013. Both these attempts were defeated by united farmers’ struggles.

“Choudhary Charan Singh and Dr M S Swaminathan in their entire life, thought, and work, were diametrically opposed to this entire trajectory of rural development that the Modi regime has been pushing at the behest of its corporate masters, both domestic and foreign. This trajectory has already led to the ruin of Indian agriculture, and the Indian peasantry.

“The peasantry of India will surely see through this new hypocrisy of the Modi government, and will show its anger by defeating this regime in the coming elections. Its determination will soon be seen in the great success of the Rural Bharat Bandh and Industrial Strike called by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) and Central Trade Unions (CTUs) on February 16, 2024.”

(The author is National President, All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS))

Views and opinions expressed in this article is solely that of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views or position of SabrangIndia and this site.


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