Mazdoor-Kisan Mahapadav Calls for Bigger Movement Ahead, Fight Communalism
New Delhi: The three-day countrywide Mahapadav or Mega March by workers and farmers from November 26-28 ended today. The call was given by central trade unions (CTUs) and the Samyukta Kisna Morcha (SKM).
The joint mega march was organised in all state capitals to push ahead a 21-point demand charter of farmers and laborers against the “corporate-communal nexus” of Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government headed by Narendra Modi.
On the third day of this historic nationwide protest, thousands of farmers and laborers united against the “anti-farmer, anti-labour and anti-people” policies of the Central government and gave a call to intensify their agitation.
While in most state capitals, the joint platform of workers and farmers submitted a memorandum of demands to the Governors, in Delhi, farmers and workers gathered at Jantar Mantar near Parliament. For two days, the protest was held outside the office of the Lieutenant Governor.
Addressing the gathering, Amarjeet Kaur, secretary of All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) said the protest was “historic”, as it was not just a three-day protest, but the culmination of a month-long campaign across all states. “Farmers and workers went to villages and hamlets and raised awareness among the common people about these issues and demands,” she said.
“The real success of this Mahapadav is that crores of people of the country have understood that religious issues are being raised to divert them from their real issues. Their unity is being divided on the basis of communalism,” said Kaur, adding that “workers and farmers will not just talk about communalism but will also mobilise people on these demands”.
It was on August 24, 2023, that the CTUs and SKM met at a convention held in Delhi’s Talkatora Stadium and gave a joint call for a three-day Kisan- Mazdoor Mahapadav in all the state capitals from November 26-28.
The dates were chosen because three years ago, on November 26, 2020, the historic farmers' movement started with the call of “Delhi Chalo”, which fought a long battle against the pro-corporate policy of the Central government and forced it to withdraw the three farm laws.
Speaking with NewsClick, Vikram Singh, the finance secretary of All Indian Kisan Sabha (AIKS), said this protest was the beginning of a long struggle. “This government is working only for the benefit of capitalists,” he added.
“Today, farmers and agriculture in the country are facing a very serious crisis. Farmers do not get the right price for their crops due to which their debts are continuously rising. As a result, many of them have migrated to the cities and are working as daily wagers,” said Singh, adding that through this Mahapadav they have realised that “it is important to unite and fight against those who exploit farmers and workers,”
Singh said “in 2024, (Lok Sabha elections) we will not allow a government that makes policies against us. That's why we have given the slogan: ‘Remove BJP, Save the Country’”.
Pushpendra Singh, Delhi vice president of Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), told NewsClick that the BJP government was doing everything contrary to what it promised. “On one hand, labour codes have been brought in to enslave the workers, while on the other, the promise to double farmers’ income has resulted in their income being reduced to half.”
AICCTU leader Shweta Raj said this government was not concerned about workers. “Due to lack of safety, 41 workers were trapped in the Uttarkashi tunnel during Diwali. They have been stranded since then. No action has been taken against the company responsible for this. This just shows whom the government is protecting.”
She said after this Mahapadav, the CTUs and SKm will meet again and decide the future course of action.
In their memorandum, farmers from Haryana said they had been camping in Panchkula for the past three days against the “betrayal” by the Central government by not implementing the written promises made at the time of suspension of the historic farmers' movement. They said if their demands are not met, they will march to Delhi once again.
Through the Kisan-Mazdoor Mahapadav, farmers and workers are demanding legal guarantee for MSP, repeal of the four labor codes, regularisation of scheme workers, reinstatement of the old pension scheme (OPS), employment for youth, and a stop to privatisation of PSUs.
The other demands include a hike in minimum wages, as well as an increase in wages and working days under MGNREGA, curbing inflation, guaranteeing food security, among others.
The joint action is also demanding repeal of the Electricity Amendment Bill 2022 and withdrawal of the plan to install smart meters along with loan waivers, hike in corporate taxes and sacking of Central minister Ajay Mishar Teni in relation with the Lakhimpur Kheri incident that led to the death of four farmers and a journalist.
The protesters also demanded a stop to “dictatorial” attacks on the media, such as on portal NewsClick, repeal of the ‘black law’ UAPA and release of arrested media personnel, as also an end to polarisation on communal basis.
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.