Mahapadav: Workers and Farmers Unite Nationwide; Vow to Change Govt if Demands Ignored
Photo by Mukund Jha
New Delhi: Workers and farmers from across the nation launched on Sunday a three-day Mahapadav in front of Raj Bhavans, protesting against what they perceive as anti-labour, anti-farmer, anti-people, and anti-national policies of the BJP-led central government. The protest, organised jointly by central trade unions and the Samyukta Kisan Morcha has garnered significant momentum in various states, including Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, and several state capitals.
In the heart of the nation's capital, hundreds of labourers and farmers congregated outside the Lieutenant Governor's residence. The assembly included not only workers and farmers but also those who extended their support to the movement – including lawyers, intellectuals, students, and artists, demonstrating a collective stand.
Speakers at the demonstration voiced concerns over the alleged relentless assault on the rights of workers, farmers, and the working class. The central government's “authoritarian” policies were met with criticism as the speakers accused the BJP-led Centre of suppressing opposition voices and diminishing the role of dissent in the democratic process.
A major point of contention raised during the protest was the ongoing privatisation of public institutions. The protesters argued that vital sectors like airports, highways, railways, banks, and defence factories, funded by the public, were being handed over to private entities, leading to a loss of permanent employment opportunities for the youth.
The Mahapadav has put forth a comprehensive list of demands, including the rollback of the four labour codes, social security for all, withdrawal of the Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2022, an end to contractualisation, a halt to the privatisation of public sector companies, and the establishment of a guaranteed minimum support price for crops.
Other demands include setting minimum wages, amending ESI, EPF, and bonus laws, and creating social security schemes for unorganised sector workers. The protesters also seek recognition of worker status for various sectors, ensuring their rights and safety measures in their workplaces.
The leaders of the Mahapadav announced that it will conclude on November 28 with a massive sit-in near the Parliament building.
Anurag Saxena of the Samyukta Trade Union Manch highlighted the alleged harassment faced by those advocating for workers and farmers. He claimed, “The government, through agencies like the ED, CBI, and others, is suppressing the opposition's voice using laws like the UAPA. The divisive tactics employed by the government aim to break the unity among the people.”
He added, “Workers from even the national capital are suffering; they are not paid the minimum wage, which is their legal right. Rather than ensuring that the workers’ rights are protected, the government is framing pro-employer legislation!”
Daljit, a leader of Bharatiya Kisan Union – Tikait, emphasised the dire situation faced by farmers in Delhi, who, he said, are not officially recognised as farmers. “Therefore, they do not get any benefits that the farmers are otherwise eligible for,” he said.
“The agriculture sector has been increasingly staring at a crisis because of PM Modi’s anti-farmer policies. What the government promised before the conclusion of the farmers’ movement at Delhi borders has not been delivered. The prolonged demand of farmers for a guaranteed rate – of one and a half times the current MSP – for all crops is continuously being ignored by the government,” he added.
Daljit also alleged that to shut down any dissent from farmers, they are being called for inquiry citing old cases and are being asked to keep mum. “This is despite the government’s promise to scrap all the old cases filed against the protesting farmers,” he said.
“If the government does not listen to our demands, we will change this government,” he asserted.
Photo by Mukund Jha
The protest in Delhi saw participation from various organisations, including the Indian National Trade Union Congress, All India Trade Union Congress, Hind Mazdoor Sabha, Centre of Indian Trade Unions, Trade Union Coordination Centre, SEWA, All India Central Council for Trade Unions, Labour Progressive Federation, United Trade Union Congress, All India, Kisan Sabha, Bharatiya Kisan Union (Tikait) and others.
Susheta De from AICCTU and Ashok Agrawal, a senior advocate for labour rights, addressed the gathering, emphasising the need for the working class to unite and address their concerns collectively.
De said, “Workers from Delhi face the double-edged sword of the government. They don’t get minimum wages and on top of that, their houses are bulldozed during events like G20.”
Agrawal told the gathering that Delhi NCR is an important financial centre contributing highly to the development and GDP of the country. “But just like the rest of the country, those who help cities put on their shiny veils are left to fend for themselves. We need to come forward to change this,” he said.
ASSAM: FIVE CENTRES OF MAHAPADAV
The Mahapadav in the Northeastern State saw protest gatherings at five centres across the state. The demonstration in the state capital drew over 2,500 protesters outside Meghdoot Bhavan. A large number of protesters were women coming from faraway districts such as Hojai and Barpeta.
The protest gathering in Guwahati.
The protesters' plan to march to the Raj Bhavan was scuttled by the police. As a result, protesters continued at Meghdoot Bhavan and raised slogans against the anti-worker and anti-people policies of the government. The memorandum of demands was handed over to the Officer on Special Duty (OCD) to the Governor.
The gathering was addressed by Tiken Das, SKM convenor, Assam, Tapan Sarma, CITU state secretary, and leaders of farmers' organisations.
Similarly, in Bongaigaon, nearly 3,000 protestors gathered and organised a sit-in for the day. In Tezpur, around 1,500 protestors gathered, comprising workers from organisations like Assam State ASHA Workers' Union, Anganwadi Workers' Union, Mid-day Meal Workers' Union, etc. Dibrugarh and Silchar each witnessed gatherings of above 2,000 protesters.
[Inputs for Assam from Sandipan Talukdar.]
Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.