Hundreds of students, workers, women, activists, and youths gathered in front of Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Monday, February 24, to protest against United States President Donald Trump’s visit to India. Several organisations, including All India Peace and Solidarity Organisation (AIPSO), All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), Forum for Trade Justice, Mazdoor Ekta Committee, Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), Indian Federation of Trade Unions, Students’ Federation of India (SFI) and All India Students’ Association (AISA), took part in the protest.
The organisations had sought permission from Delhi Police to organise a protest march from Mandi House. However, permission was denied and the police told them to hold the protest in Jantar Mantar, but it would have to be wrapped up by noon. While addressing the crowd, Pallav Sengupta, general secretary of AIPSO, said, “There was a lot of pressure on us to not organise this demonstration. But we did not give in. We did not relent. This is not just a protest against Trump’s visit to India, this is also an expression of solidarity with countries like Cuba, Libya, and Venezuela, where US invasion has destroyed the lives of the citizens.” He added, “It is very obvious that Modi loves Trump, and Trump loves Modi. However, the people of India and the US love neither.”
Talking to NewsClick, Nilotpal Basu, politburo member of Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] and general secretary of AIPSO, said, “Demonstrations are being organised across the country to protest against Trump’s visit to India. His visit has nothing to do with the welfare of the people of India.” He said that ahead of the upcoming presidential elections in the USA, Trump wants to show the world that he has the power to force a country like India, and both Modi and Trump both want the big corporations to flourish, neither of them care about the people. Basu said that Indians will not let the country succumb to the pressure exerted by the US. He said, “The US is trying to make India implement policies that will benefit American corporations, and Modi is succumbing to that pressure. He is becoming a junior strategic partner of the US, subservient to Trump.”
Animesh, general secretary of Indian Federation of Trade Unions told NewsClick why workers across the country should protest against Trump’s visit to India. He said, “The US president wants India to buy as many products as possible from them, so that they can salvage their economy using us. India already has a very high rate of unemployment. If Modi agrees to implement these policies, it would mean that more and more people will lose their jobs.” On February 20, Trump had said while addressing a ‘Keep America Great’ rally in Colorado, US, “I’m going to India next week and we’re talking trade. They’ve [India has] been hitting us hard for many, many years but I really like Prime Minister Modi... They’ve been hitting us hard. They give us tariffs, one of the highest in the world is India.” He had added, “But it’s [the visit is] going to result in more products proudly stamped with the beautiful phrase “Made in the USA”
The politburo of CPI(M) released a statement on Monday, urging the Narendra Modi government not to succumb to the US agenda. The statement said, “The Politburo of the CPI(M) calls upon the Modi government not to succumb to the unilateral agenda of US President Donald Trump on his visit to India. The singular intention of the US administration is to further prise open Indian economy to boost the US corporate interest and thus help the reelection bid of Trump.”
It added, “USA allows its agribusiness to distort prices to outcompete local farmers in the developing countries with a subsidy of a whopping $ 867 billion. Trump wants India to now remove the tariff barrier which serves as a policy tool to protect the Indian farmers, food procurement for people's food security and minimum support price to our farmers. This will destroy Indian agriculture and the livelihood of crores of our people.” The politburo also accused the US President of targeting India's health care sector, and said that CPI(M) demands that India must remove the compulsory licensing for the benefit of mega US pharmaceutical corporations, which it termed is "misplaced".
Talking to NewsClick about why students across the country are protesting against Trump's visit, Mayukh Biswas, general secretary of SFI, said, “The Modi government has spent crores of money to prepare the country for Trump’s two-day visit. However, the same government does not have money to improve the public education sector. The students also oppose the policies implemented by the USA that have made it difficult for Indian students to study there.”
He added, “Trump has continuously made misogynistic comments, said that climate change is not real, and many other things. Today’s youth does not accept it. Youths all over the world are angry at Trump, the Indian youth is no exception.”