Farmers, agricultural workers and trade unionists across the country are expected to lead protests against the “anti-people policies” of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government on September 5. Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) and the All India Agricultural Workers Union (AIAWU) have given the call for a country-wide Worker- Peasant Action Day this Saturday.
As part of the Action Day, rallies, dharnas and padyatras will be organised at local levels across the country over basic demands of the people. CITU, AIKS and AIAWU have been campaigning against the policies of Modi government, which they say has been implemented in haste, taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown. Joint meetings of the CITU-AIKS and AIAWU have taken place at the state, district and the village level in many parts of the country.
A joint statement was issued by Tapan Sen, the CITU general secretary, Hannan Mollah, the AIKS general secretary and B. Venkat, the AIAWU general secretary. In it, they mentioned that the “struggle” is to “further strengthen the coordination between the basic class organisations, and consolidate it at all levels to take up the class issues around which a wider people’s movement can be built. It is through such movements the Modi government had to retreat from Land Aquisition ordinance, many privatisation drives etc.”
Demands of the protesting workers and farmers include universal healthcare, especially free tests and treatment for COVID-19, free ration, Rs 7,500 per month income support for the next six months, 200 days of guaranteed work in MNREGA (at Rs 600 per day), unemployment allowance and urban employment guarantee, among others.
They have also been opposing the ordinances and executive orders on essential commodities, farm trade, the Electricity Act, EIA, NEP 2020, National Digital Health Mission, suspension and altering of labour aws and the privatisation of PSEs and services.
Along with these, local issues are also being raised during the campaigns. On September 2, farmers, under the banner of AIKS, demonstrated at Hisar in Haryana, demanding compensation for their cotton crop. Such protests are being held at various places across the country.
AIKS demonstration in Hisar.
If the administration and the government do not pay any further attention to the problems of the farmers, then indefinite protest will begin from the September 7, the unions said.
The nationwide protest on September 5 is a resumption of the worker-peasant joint struggles, including satyagraha and jail bharo on August 9. “The unprecedented response to the Jail Bharo/Satyagraha on August 9, 2020 and the action programme on 23 July 2020 called by CITU, AIKS and AIAWU shows the anger among the people against the Modi regime,” said the joint statement.
On August 20, a joint meeting of CITU, AIKS and AIAWU noted that the Centre’s policies in the economic, political and social fronts were aimed at “centralisation and authoritarianism”. The organisations felt the government was also moving forward with communal, divisive machinations on society with a diversionary intent – to serve the capitalist landlord classes. They felt it could only be countered by intensifying the class struggle at the grass root level.
Following the joint meeting, it was decided that an action day would be observed on September 5, 2020 – a day which marks the second anniversary of the historic two lakh strong Worker-Peasant Sangharsh Rally held by CITU, AIKS and AIAWU in the national capital in 2018. The ‘Mazdoor-Kisan Sangharsh’ Rally at Parliament Street on September 5, 2018 had witnessed the participation of lakhs of farmers and workers from all regions across the country.
The Kisan Samman Diwas on May 16, the protest on May 27 by the AIKSCC, and the All India Protest Day on June 4 by the AIAWU, have also received support. According to the unions, the overwhelming response from people shows the discontent among people over the policies of the BJP-led Centre.
Read more: The Real Struggle for Life Goes On, As a Temple of Dreams Rises