Farmers Across the Country Continue Protests and Agitation

– J. Singh –

Lakhimpur Kheri, farmers Mahapanchayat, August 19-20, 2022

Farmers across India are continuing their protests and agitation. They are strengthening their unity by raising awareness among people and by organizing in every village of India. They are holding Kisan Panchayats (farmers' meetings) and Mahapanchayats (mass meetings) to discuss basic problems of farmers, workers, women, Dalits and the toilers and oppressed people. In Lakhimpur Kheri hundreds of thousands of farmers held a Mahapanchayat and denounced the government and its policies as well as attacks on the farmers and people, especially against Muslims and Dalits. They condemned the arrest of Teesta Setalvad and other human rights activists. The Mahapanchayat announced a plan of action for the coming months across India which continues the ongoing agitations.

Faridkot, Punjab Mahapanchayat, August 14, 2022 

Massive protests were held by apple growers in Himachal Pradesh jointly with farmers, against their loot by Adani. To counter attacks on Muslims, farmers are building defence committees, harmony committees and peace committees.

Protest by sugar cane farmers in Phagwara, Punjab demanding payment for their cane, August 10, 2022.

Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) leaders opposed the government meeting of the committee on Minimum Support Price (MSP). They called the panel a "farce" and said nothing conclusive will come out of the talks. They convoked a national meeting of the SKM on September 6 in Delhi to chalk out future plans.

Farmers arrive in Delhi for August 22, 2022 Mahapanchayat.

The farmers held a Mahapanchayat in Delhi on August 22, in spite of government attempts to stop them. Many of their leaders were held at border points into Delhi but the farmers broke through the barricades and went to Jantar Mantar in the heart of the city. They protested the Modi government's "betrayal" on MSP and demanded the release of farmers held during the Morchas, the sacking of Ajay Mishra from the Cabinet, the release of political prisoners, and a livelihood for the youth, amongst other things.

Jantar Mantar resounded with slogans such as Tanashahi Nahin Chalegi (Down with Dictatorship), Hindu Muslim Nahin Chalega (Inciting Divisions on the Basis of Religion Will Not Work), Awaz Do Hum Ek Hain (We are United as One), Muslim Pe Humla Sabhi Pe Humla (Attacks on Muslims Are Attacks on All), Dharti Mata Ki Jai (Long Live Mother Earth), Jai Kisan, Jai Jawan (Long Live Farmers and Soldiers), Adani, Ambani Murdabad (Down with Adani and Ambani), Zuban Pe Tala Murdabad (Down with the Criminalization of Dissent -- "lock on tongue").

A young woman farmer sang the following song expressing the sentiments of the Mahapanchayat:

Dilli Di Hakumate, Lokan Di Ni Bairne
Lok Hard Lai Jayuga Baha

(Delhi government enemy of the people,
The flood of the people will sweep you away)

Speaker after speaker denounced the Modi government and the repression it has unleashed on all those who are fighting for their rights. One of the speakers called on the administration to let the buses full of farmers get into Delhi, otherwise they will continue sitting at the Jantar Mantar.

Farmers are raising all the problems of society -- land theft, state terror, communal violence, caste oppression, the corruption of the political process, the exploitation and oppression inherent to the economic system, etc. They have a wide variety of opinions but they have taken a firm stand against sectarianism -- against dividing their ranks on the basis of opinions and beliefs. They have consciously adopted the position of being United in Action to Fight for the Rights of All.

Farmers' organizations in Punjab and Haryana also organized a protest in Chandigarh to denounce the Gujarat government decision to release the rapists of Bilkis Bano, who was gang raped. Thousands of farmers, youth, students, women and also workers gathered in spite of the government trying to block them.

Protests in Karnataka and Delhi on August 27, 2022 against the release of Bilkis Bano's rapists.

Politicians continue to make false promises. Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann has announced that they will make Punjab "Cancer Free." One commentator said with a smile that the minister thinks he is still doing comedy, because he has no idea what he is talking about. Like other parties, the Aam Admi Party in Punjab is making one declaration after another without even feeling the need to know what they are saying. Similarly, the Aam Admi Party in Gujarat is claiming that it will end unemployment in Gujarat in five years.

Lies are flying left, right and centre as state and general elections approach. In this way, falsification and fraud have become the essence of liberal democracy -- make any promise to keep the people divided and diverted from uniting in action to fight for their own aims. Their intention is revealed by their inability to fulfill whatever they say. They know that they don't have to be accountable to the voters and people as they do not represent them, but that they do to the narrow private interests which control the decision-making power.

All over the world slogans and demands are being raised which recognize the need to affirm the Right to Be of all people and end the anti-human and anti-nature economic and political system. The Necessity for Change requires that the way be opened for renewal and the renovation of everything on the basis of activating the human factor/social consciousness. This is achieved by implementing the mass democratic method of participating in setting the agenda for our actions ourselves and not permitting the sectarian spirit to infect the movement.

India's Prime Minister Modi, like his predecessors, Manmohan Singh, Indira Gandhi, Nehru and others before him, gave rise to a lot of hot air from the Red Fort on August 15. As usual he has conveniently forgotten his older promises of Har Ghar Jal -- the scheme initiated by the Government of India in 2019 which claimed to have the aim to provide tap water to every rural household by 2024.  He has now moved on, uttering five new phrases: a "developed India by 2047, removing any sign of servility, [having] pride in heritage, unity, and fulfilling our duties."

A commentator said that Modi didn't seem that confident this year, maybe his guilty conscience was pricking him that he is lying again in front of the whole world. Such people do not have a care as to what they are saying even means. Modi is in good company and continuing the tradition of deception and fraud. Garibi Hatao Desh Bachao (Remove poverty, rescue the country) was the theme and slogan of Indira Gandhi's 1971 election campaign. Garibi Hatao, Socialism, Secularism, Shining India, Incredible India, and many more calls have been given by India's ruling elites even before the current age when the factional fights to seize hold of the executive powers are sharper than ever.

Several opposition parties including Congress passed a resolution in the second week of August to root out the influence of "Machine, Media and Money" in elections. Since 1947, Congress has used all three Ms to come to power. It's a cartel party system in the service of the interests of the Tatas, Birlas and other monopoly houses. For the big private interests, financing a cartel party is a small investment for them to access the treasury on a permanent basis. For example, the Indian government has forgiven the loans of a handful of monopolies to the tune of $145 billion.

No matter which party has been in power, elections are a resource transfer mechanism by the rich. They pay the parties to fight elections so that the state is privatized directly. They replace civil service organizations with their own private consulting firms and companies through which they have direct access to the resources of the country. In the process, cartel party leaders enrich themselves and accrue privilege. The system works no matter which party comes to power.

Now when the most powerful section of the ruling elite has decided to make BJP their standard bearer as they think that it will better serve their interests, Congress is talking about the use of Machine, Media and Money (3M). CPI(M) was in power in Bengal for 30 years and it used the same 3M template. They used every trick in the book that Congress had used in the service of the ruling elite, including killing thousands of youth. The Aam Admi party is using the 3Ms in Punjab, while at the same time giving rise to a lot of rhetoric against it. What they say and what they do are two different things.

It reveals that liberal democracy cannot exist without the 3Ms. The U.S. is the greatest example of it. The great American writer Mark Twain figured it out a long time ago. "We have the best government that money can buy," he famously said. The Congress Party in India is missing its "lost paradise." It is trying to get back into power thinking it can make people forget their history.

This article was published in
Volume 52 Number 9 - September, 2022

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