In the News
Indian Farmers’ Mass Democracy Stands Firm
– J. Singh –
On September 5, 2021 a Mahapanchayat (mass rally) took place in Muzzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh (UP). Some news channels reported that more than 1.5 million participated. Others doubled that estimate. It was an ocean of humanity spread out for tens of miles. Save the Farmers, Save the Country was the slogan of the Mahapanchayat. More than 5000 langurs (community kitchens) were organized on the roads to Muzzaffarnagar. It is reported that 3,000 of these langars were stationary and 2000 were on wheels. The government cancelled trains, blocked roads and jammed internet and cell phone services. Farmers pointed out the betrayal by the BJP and government of all the promises made to farmers and people. They also pointed out that in the last 75 years all the governments and parties have made all kinds of promises and betrayed them. A handful of agents provocateur tried to disrupt the Mahapanchayat.
Another mass rally was held by the farmers in Karnal, Haryana on September 7, defying prohibitory orders on gatherings of more than five people. At the Mahapanchayat, the farmers decided to Gherao (surround) the local government office as the government has not met their demands for the official who ordered police to fire on farmers on August 28, 2021 and “break their skulls” to be suspended and tried for murder. Hundreds of thousands of farmers marched to the mini secretariat, broke down all barricades, marched through the force of water canons and are now camping there surrounding the government offices. They announced that they will sit there until the government meets their demand.
Farmers have called for an All India Bandh (shut down) on September 27, 2021 to save the country from the looting of the corporate elites. They also announced Mission UP to defeat the BJP in the coming elections. They condemned the lathi (truncheon) charge on farmers in Haryana and Punjab. They are calling for a Vote Pe Chote (defeat at the ballot box).
An old farmer pointed out that the ground where the Mahapanchayat was taking place has a history that if it is filled, then the government will fall. Another farmer pointed out that in 1857, Meerut, a town 80 kilometres away, ended the rule of the East India Company. This Mahapanchayat will end the rule of Adani, Ambani and other companies, he said.
Farmers also announced the consolidation of the Farmers United Front in every district and village of India. Several other Mahapanchayats are planned in Varanasi, Lucknow and other places.
One of the speakers at the Mahapanchayat pointed out that in the last 10 months at the Morchas (encampments) surrounding Delhi, the farmers have been running these encampments very efficiently and successfully. “We are looking after the needs of all at the Morchas, in spite of attacks by the Indian state,” he said. “We are quite capable of running our country without the politicians and their parties. We are doing a much better job than they are. We have mass democracy at the Morchas, not like what the ruling elite has been claiming for last the 75 years.” He reminded the farmers that it is time to realize the demand of 1857 Hum Hai Iske Malik, Hindustan Hamara (We are the owners of India, it belongs to us). This is a fight for Zamin and Zamir (conscience and land), Fasal and Nasal (crops and the coming generations).
Once again the BJP as the standard bearer of the ruling elite has declared that diversion, distraction, division and violence will be its strategy in the coming elections. While people are focusing on the farmers’ struggle for land, water, minimum support price for their crops, the natural environment and building democratic forms of rule, the ruling elite wants to divert them from their problems and focus on Hindutva (Hindu nationalism). While people are focused on why the prices of dal (lentils) have gone up to 200 rupees, mustard oil has gone up to 180 rupees, petrol has risen by 116 per cent, a gas cylinder has doubled in price, they want people to focus instead on Hindutva.
Towards this end, the BJP has announced that Hindutva will be its central platform in coming elections. According to press reports, the state executive passed a resolution that “officially thanked PM Narendrabhai” for having “fulfilled the dream of crores of Indians to build a temple on the Ram janmabhoomi.” The state BJP executive, the resolution said, condemned all “pseudo-seculars who do not support Ram Mandir [a Hindu temple being built in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh] and spread lies about it.” The resolution declared that the opposition parties were still desperately trying to “instigate Indians” in favour of the Modi government’s move to dilute Article 370 of the Constitution and permanently revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.
The Congress Party talks in “Chinese and Pakistani,” the resolution read. The resolution is likely to be mirrored by BJP units across India.
At the Mahapanchayat held by the farmers in Muzzaffarnagar, farmer after farmer, speaker after speaker pointed out that people must not fall into this trap of the BJP, Adani, Ambani, Tata, Birla and others. They must defeat the BJP and this offensive. People are focusing on the government’s sell-off of all the public resources such as railways, rivers, roads, storage facilities, airports and seaports, but the ruling elite wants them to focus on Hindutva instead, to divert, distract and divide people and organize bloodshed on the basis of conscience and religion.