Sunita Narain, Down to Earth (CSE)
As Indians break into 2021 with the fervent hope that it will be different from last year’s devastating pandemic, we have angry faces staring us down. Farmers — many thousands — have gathered peacefully at the doorsteps of the nation’s capital, demanding that the government repeal the recently formulated agriculture-related laws. There is a lot of noise on who is right and who is wrong. But this protest should challenge us to think — not as researchers or academics or even policy wonks, but as consumers of food that farmers grow.
The question we need to ask is why does the food that we consume need to be subsidised? Why are farmers, not just the ones camping in the bitter cold at the capital’s borders, but also the voiceless silent majority, demanding price support? Are they unproductive and lazy?
The fact is that across the world — even, and especially, in the rich world — agriculture is heavily funded by governments. Paris-based inter-governmental think-tank Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) estimates support to this sector through what it calls producer support, as a percentage of gross farming receipts.
It finds that in rich countries like Japan, South Korea, Norway and Iceland, producer support ranged between 40 and 60 per cent of the gross farming receipt in 2019. In the United States it is roughly 12 per cent and in the European Union (EU) it is 20 per cent.
But in India, the producer support — what the government pays as a percentage of the farming receipt — is actually negative (-5 per cent). In other words, the farming sector, owned and managed by some of the poorest people in the world, subsidises what we eat.
But that’s not all. Rich countries are also innovating fast to support their farming sector in the time of growing climate change risks — the payment is not paid directly for production, but is conditional to the farming sector adopting practices that are more sustainable.
The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy will now be directed towards ecosystem services payment to farmers. So, more subsidy, but with new names. In this way, almost all large food-producing countries include subsidies as part of their social and environmental welfare measures.
The subsidy may be given through direct payments to farmers or through support pricing for certain crops, or through investment into key agricultural inputs like water, fertilisers and seeds.
It is in this world that farmers of the poorer world — including those from India’s rich states of Punjab and Haryana — have to compete.
First, they are disadvantaged because they do not get the financial support needed to make farming lucrative. Second, when their crops become costly due to either extreme weather or other reasons of scarcity, the government steps in to import cheaper food. Our farmers suffer at both ends.
It is for this reason that farmers are demanding a minimum support price (MSP) as an insurance against price volatility. At present, there is no doubt that the system is broken. While MSP is fixed for 22 crops, in reality, it is used only for a few crops — wheat and paddy, where the government has a procurement system.
It is this reason that the farmers of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh are up in arms, fearing that the system will be disbanded. They grow wheat and rice that is mostly procured by the government.
But for the remaining crops, MSP is an empty promise. As my colleague Richard Mahapatra has analysed in his recent article on the farm support, the market does not end up paying the price that is required to the farmers.
According to the government’s own data, almost 70 per cent of the market transactions for 10 select crops in 600 wholesale markets were at prices lower than MSP.
The key issue is what should be the price of food? The fact is that the cost of inputs is increasing — from seeds and water to labour. Then there is the fact that the risks are increasing because of extreme weather due to climate change. In this way, farmers need to be paid both for the increased cost of growing food and for the increased risk of loss of crops.
Indian farmers invest huge amounts of private capital into building infrastructure for their operations, unlike any private company or industry. They pay to build irrigation facilities — more than half of the irrigated land uses groundwater. Some 19 million wells and tube wells have been built with private capital.
Nobody pays for this — in fact, the computation of MSP is rigged against the farmer because the government needs to ensure that the cost of food is cheap for its procurement system and stays affordable. The worst fear of any government is food inflation, as consumers then fret and fume.
This is when government imports food to drive down prices — food from rich countries, where food growing is subsidised and against whom our farmers cannot compete. It is time we talked about the real cost of our food, about how to benefit farmers who grow our food. This is not a business we can afford to lose.
This is what the farmers at our doorstep want us to discuss. Let’s not let them down.
The farmers’ movement for the repeal of the three farm laws which affect them closely but have been rammed through without consulting them, has now entered its second month. It is of historic significance. It is not just about minimum support prices but also about the survival of the entire system of public procurement and distribution of foodgrains. Without ensuring the economic viability of foodgrains production in North India the grain basket of the country no continuity can be ensured for the public procurement and distribution system, which, despite its drawbacks, continues to provide a modicum of food security to vast numbers of our population.
Recreation of Colonial Times
Northern industrial countries, namely the United States, Canada and the European Union (EU), cannot produce the tropical and subtropical crops in high demand by their own consumers while they have mountains of surplus grain and dairy products, the only goods their single crop lands are capable of producing for climatic reasons. They must find export markets for these. For over two decades, they have put relentless pressure on developing countries to give up their own public procurement systems, insisting that they should buy their food grains from advanced countries, while diverting their foodcropproducing land to contract farming of export crops that these industrial countries want but cannot themselves produce.
In short, they want a recreation of the economic scenario of the colonial period. Dozens of developing countries, ranging from the Philippines in the mid-1990s to Botswana (Africa) a decade later, succumbed to this pressure. They paid the price when with rapid diversion of grain to ethanol production in the U.S. and the EU, world grain prices trebled in a matter of months from end2007. Thirty seven newly import dependent countries saw food riots, with urban populations being pushed into greater poverty. Food security for the developing world is far too important a matter to be left to the global market, but the relentless attack on their public stocking of grain for ensuring food security continues. India had barely managed to pull back from the brink a decade ago: procurement prices were raised substantially after virtually stagnating during the six years preceding the 2008 pricespike and grain output in Punjab grew again from nearstagnant levels as economic viability improved. But absorption of foodgrains did not improve as much owing to continued exclusion of many of the actually poor from ‘Below Poverty Line’ ration cards, while unemployment caused by the 2016 demonetisation followed by the 2020 pandemic has reduced aggregate demand by now to a historic low.
A Case of Unfair Trade
Our farmers have been exposed for no rhyme or reason to unfair trade, and to the volatility of global prices that has plunged them into unrepayable debt and distress — in one village in Punjab, there were as many as 59 widows of farmers forced into suicide. Trade with the North is unfair, because the advanced countries in the mid1990s, converted their own price support measures to massive subsidies given as direct cash transfers to their own farmers, transfers that in a blatantly self-serving manner they wrote into the Agreement on Agriculture as ‘not subject to reduction commitments’.
India along with other developing countries signed the Agreement with very little idea of the implications of the small print. For the U.S., the direct cash transfers it gives to its 2.02 million farmers, amounting to a huge half or more of its annual farm output value, uses up only 1% of its budget. For India, over 50% of the entire central government annual Budget would be required to give even a quarter of annual farm output value to our 120 million farmers, which is an economic impossibility and an administrative nightmare.
It’s About a Reasonable Price
The farmers have made it amply clear that they do not want petty cash handouts; all they want is a reasonable price for the vital crops they produce for the nation, so that they can cover costs and live at a modest standard. In Indian circumstances, the price support system is in fact the only feasible one. While depletion of groundwater in Punjab is a real problem, the solution lies in introducing improved agronomic practices such as the System of Rice Intensification which economises water, not in reducing rice production. One does not cut off one’s head because of a headache. It is precisely the support prices for crops that had been deliberately put by advanced countries under completely arbitrary and absurd computation rules in the Agreement on Agriculture.
The U.S. complained against India to the World Trade Organization in May 2018 that since the ‘reference price’ for calculating support was the 198688 average world price of a crop which they converted to rupees at the then prevailing ¹ 12.5 per dollar exchange rate, India’s support price per quintal for rice and wheat in 2013-14 should have been at the most 235 and 354, respectively! The actual support prices were 1,348 and 1,386, and the difference, over 1,000 per quintal, was then multiplied by the entire 201314 output of rice and wheat, and came to 77% and 67% of their output values (https://bit.ly/3mROANe).
This, the U.S. claimed, was support provided in gross violation of the permitted 10%! Two months ago the U.S. sent fresh questions to India. Every kind of dishonest and absurd rule had been put into the Agreement on Agriculture to shortchange gullible developing countries. Our farmers are among the lowest cost producers in the world, and the support prices in 2013-14 at the prevailing exchange rate of ¹ 60.5 per dollar were well below global prices, which mean that actual support was negative.
Current compression of global demand means that wheat and riceprices are at historic lows, advanced country farm subsidies are at historic highs and their desperation to dump their grain on our markets has intensified. While our protesting farmers have correctly identified domestic firms as potential beneficiaries of the new marketing laws that they oppose, foreign agribusiness corporations are as great a danger.
Farmers have already experienced contract farming with foreign agribusinesses in Punjab and Haryana. They say clearly that they do not wish to deal with powerful, faceless private corporations that renege on price and quantity contracts when it suits them. Despite all its inefficiency and payment delays, they prefer to sell to government agents at the stipulated minimum support prices. They are absolutely correct in thinking that deregulation of markets as mandated by the new laws, and the entry of business firms, which will be not only Indian but also foreign mean a severe undermining of the entire system of public procurement and minimum support prices.
The ‘Green Energy’ Push
There are many Indian intellectuals who argue that importing subsidized grain from the North will benefit poor consumers here. They forget that there is an increasingly powerful opinion advocating ‘green energy’ in advanced countries, pushing for even greater conversion of grain to ethanol; hence initial lowpriced grain imports, if permitted today, will not only destroy our farmers but will soon give way to a scenario of price spikes and to urban distress as experienced earlier by developing countries forced into import dependence. Anyone with a concern for our own hard working farmers and poverty-stricken consumers must support the farmers’ demands against the machinations of both local and global business elites.
This note is written on the eve of the historic tractor rally going to take place at the national capital, Delhi, as part of the assertion of people’s right to get the laws adopted by the party in power, if it goes against their basic interests. The Delhi police had barricaded Delhi heavily to prevent the farmers who were marching to the capital to participate in the Delhi Chalo call of the AIKSCC from entering the city. So, after reaching the borders they blocked all the six National Highways and went on strengthening the siege as even after rounds after rounds of discussions the Modi government refused to repeal the three Farm Acts.
As the farmers declared to organize the tractor rally to express their determination to get the Acts repealed, on the appeal of the Delhi police, the Supreme Court gave it the right to take decision on giving permission for it. Even when thousands of tractors started marching to Delhi from different states, till 23rd January afternoon police refused permission. Following this, when the Samyukta Sangharsh Morcha announced its decision to hold the rally even without permission, the police was forced to change its stand. It has now decided to remove the barricades and allow the tractor rally through the city streets. Probably, this is the first time after coming to power six years ago, Modi rule is compelled to change its decision. As the struggle is going to be intensified following the rally, and powerful solidarity actions by the fraternal organizations are increasing, the Modi rule will be compelled to repeal the 3 Farm Acts also sooner or later.
By successfully leading the struggle to stop corporatization of the agricultural sector through these Acts, the farmers as well as their supporters all over the country are greatly enthused. It is going to lead to more mobilization of the toiling masses for the victory of this struggle. Besides, all over the country the left masses along with the oppressed classes and sections have joined their movements in ever larger numbers, to resist and defeat the neo-liberal, corporatization moves by the neo-fascist forces. As a result, the objective conditions for developing the revolutionary advances as well as for preparing the subjective forces capable of taking this task forward have also become more favorable.
Presently, the Modi rule, guided by the neo-fascist RSS and representing the most reactionary section of the ruling class, serving as junior partner of imperialism, mainly US imperialism, is engaged In wiping out all parliamentary opposition for establishing a stable Hindutva vote-bank through its hate-politics and using the state machinery, judiciary and media in all of which the RSS has penetrated effectively. Grossly violating the Constitutional provisions, it has brought Ram temple and Jai Sri Ram as its manifesto and slogan. In continuation to lynching in the name of alleged beef eating to cow slaughter the hate politics and Islamophobia is intensified through campaign against the so-called Love Jihad.
At the same time, using saffronization intensified at maddening pace, and now Covid-19 as covers, a series of economic measures are taken starting with de-monetization, GST, liberalization-privatization of all remaining public sector units including Railways, etc, to reduction of all labor laws to 4 Labor Codes, imposition of the New Education Policy-2020 and the bull-dozing of the 3 Farm Acts are speeded up for the corporatization of all fields, taking the neoliberal raj to its zenith.
In its bid to weaken and terrorize the parliamentary opposition, it has succeeded to poach Congress MLAs in MP and replaced the Congress government in the state by its own govt, is engaged in de-stabilizing the Congress govt. in Rajasthan, managed to win a majority in recent Bihar elections, is engaged in bulldozing to power somehow or other in W. Bengal in the coming elections and using forceful collection of funds in the name of construction of Ram temple terrorizing the Muslim minority and al opposition led state governments. In this, it is utilizing all the central agencies including the CBI, NIA, ED, IB etc and the Constitutional institutions like the Supreme Court, Election Commission etc. As happened during the discussion on the 3 Farm Bills in the Rajya Sabha, even the parliament is reduced to serve its whims violating the well established procedures. The J&K is reduced to a colony under military boots. An atmosphere of terror and overwhelming domination of the RSS is created giving its parivar right to dominate everywhere and in everything and everyone opposed to it as anti-national. An impression was being created that RSS and its Modi rule have become omnipotent. The Godi media through lies and slanders is creating the impression that the Hindurashtra has come in to existence.
Following BJP led NDA’s big victory in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections riding on the saffron wave and chauvinist fervor created based on the Pulwama incident, in which 43 para-military forces were killed, and the Balakot surgical strike master-minded by the central agencies, horrifying details of whose planning and execution are slowly coming out now, the Modi-Shah team further intensified the fascist offensive. Article 370 ws struck down, J&K was reduced to 2 UTs, and even the whole leadership of opposition parties there were detained, terrorizing the people there. The Constitutional amendment to the Citizenship Law was passed, with the threat of preparing a new NPR, threatening millions from Muslim minority with the danger of losing the citizenship.
Though against this a powerful mass upsurge took place spear-headed by the Shahin Bagh movement, the outbreak of the Covid19 helped Modi to suppress it. The RSS openly provoked the communal rots in Northeast of Delhi, destroying the life and properties of Muslims terrorizing them. RSS parivar got further boost as the Supreme Court allotted the land where Babri Masjid stood for Ram temple construction, Modi launching the construction violating all secular principles, and BJP using Jai Sri Ramas its main election slogan. It is an all out offensive by the neo-fascist RSS forces.
In this situation, it is a welcome development that the parliamentary opposition has come out against the Modi government. But they have proved themselves incapable for organizing meaningful resistance against the corporate this fascist offensive of Modi government. Similarly, even after the privatization of all core sectors including the Navratnas, and severe attacks on the rights of the working class, except for occasional one day strikes in protest, the central trade unions have not launched any serious movement against these onslaughts on the working class and the people by the fascist forces in the interest of the corporate forces. Similarly, the parliamentary left, which was already decimated in W. Bengal and Tripura, is almost paralyzed in many states or uncertain to use al forms of struggle against RSS/BJP, primarily targeting it. Many of the Communist revolutionary forces who are sticking to their old concepts in spite of vast changes in the society, are left clueless, have become inactive or have gone behind the parliamentary left. In this grave situation, the question of resisting and beating back the RSS led offensive through Modi govt had become the most serious challenge before the revolutionary forces and the masses of the people.
It was in such an almost desperate situation, following the Delhi Chalo on 27th November call by the AIKSCC, the farmers started marching to Delhi, especially from Punjab, where they were protesting against the Ordinance issued in June for corporatization of agriculture using various forms of struggle including the railway bundh. As the Haryana police dug up the NHs and raised barricades on the roads from Punjab and Rahasthan, it looked like the farmers will not be able to advance towards Delhi. But, from 26th November, when the farmers threw away the barricades, overcame the lathi charge, water cannons and tear gas shells and reached the Delhi borders at Singhu and Tikri on 27th, the situation started changing.
As the Delhi police had raised very strong barricades and deployed large forces of police, CRP, BSF, Rapid Action Forces and Commandos on all border points, the famers’ organizations decided to start siege of the capital city by mobilizing more forces. Soon the farmers from UP, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and all over the country started reaching the borders, and siege of Delhi from Gazipur Chilla and Palvel on UP border, and Shajahanpur on Rajasthan-Delhi road also started. Though 11 rounds of discussions took place between Kisan Sangharsh Morcha (KSM) and representatives of the government, they have failed as Modi govt is not prepared to accept the farmers’ demand for repeal of the 3 Farm Acts. So, the KSM is organizing a massive tractor rally in the city on 26th January as announced earlier and going to continue the siege till its demands are accepted.
In order to weaken and disintegrate the struggle the Modi govt as well as the BJP led state governments have resorted to all heinous moves, with the RSS parivar and ministers indulging in vicious propaganda, including dubbing the movement as led by Khalistanis, funded by China and Pakistan, tukda-tukda gang and even anti-national, when tens of thousands of ex-servicemen from Punjab and Haryana are also active in it. The PM, Modi, and top BJP leaders are repeatedly asserting that these farm laws shall benefit the farmers, consciously concealing the fact that they will not only harm the interests of the farmers immensely, but also destroy the food security and devastate the Public Distribution System. So, it is not only a struggle of the farmers, but of all toiling and oppressed masses.
Contrary to Godi media propaganda, the farmers’ movement has spread to all regions and more sections of people are coming forward in solidarity. Though the central trade unions could not mobilize the workers in large numbers in support of the struggle, all of them and other TU centers like TUCI, mass organizations of students, youth, women etc also have come forward to support the struggle. Though Modi tried to involve the Supreme Court to confuse the KSM leaders, he has failed. The only result was that the SC and the CJI got more exposed. As the movement is completing two months, already more than 150 comrades have become martyrs in the cold weather of Delhi. In spite of it, the farmers and their supporters are in fighting spirit. As thousands of tractors have started marching to Delhi from all states, the Delhi police came under great pressure and it has now permitted the tractor rally inside Delhi. As the farmers’ organizations have declared unanimously if is a victory for the farmers. As the historic movement is spreading to all corners of the country challenging the Modi government, it is coming under great pressure. Giving permission for the tractor rally is a reflection of this. The farmers’ organizations have declared that they will not lift the siege of Delhi until the 3 Farm Acts are repealed.
Without any doubt, it is the most powerful people’s upsurge in the history of our country: it challenges the neoliberal policies dictated by the IMF-World Bank-WTO trio to serve the interest of the imperialist powers. So, it is an anti-imperialist struggle, in essence. It is a positive thing that almost all the political parties, mass organizations and people’s movements, except those of the RSS parivar have come out in some form or other in support of the struggle. If the Anti-CAA/NPR movement had attracted large sections of people last year, the farmers’ struggle and the solidarity movement in support of it is many times more powerful and broad-based. It has exposed the advocates of pessimism who come out with many theories why such a broad based movements and revolutionary changes cannot take place in India, including many from the parliamentary left. On the contrary, the ongoing farmers’ upsurge shows that India is no exception; in this phase of neoliberal/corporate offensive of the global imperialist system, similar to the numerous people’s upsurges taking place against the ruling forces in both neo-colonially dependent and imperialist countries, there are increasing possibilities for the anti- CAA, anti-farm Acts like upsurges taking place repeatedly in India also. Experience during last 2-3 decades show that in the absence of a powerful revolutionary communist party to guide it to higher phases and even up to seizure of political power with a clear vision of people’s democracy and socialist transformation, either they are led to reformist channels, or their development on the revolutionary path suppressed.
A study of the political forces who are supporting this historic farmers’ movement will explain this question clearly. The activities of the Congress party, which introduced the neoliberal regime in India, carried forward the reforms linked with it and even tried to go for corporatization of agriculture in 2013, are only limited to getting back to power defeating BJP which is speeding up the reforms in fascistic ways and pursuing the hard Hindutva path of Hindurashtra. If it comes back to power along with its old UPA allies, it will go back to its former rightist path with the soft Hindutva line. The other regional or caste-based political parties, which are basically part of the ruling class spectrum, but support the farmers’ struggle and oppose the BJP, wherever they are in power, are pursuing the neoliberal policies in one form or other.
The parliamentary left, the CPI(M) led Left Front or LDF parties, are also doing the same as can be seen in Kerala. What about the organizations to the left of CPI(M)? Among them, all those who still consider Indian society as semi-feudal, in spite of the fast development of capitalist relations in the agricultural sector under land reforms from above, introduction of finance capital, new technology and market forces (Green Revolution), they do not organize the small, middle or big land owning sections of farmers where they have influence, because it goes against their theoretical positions. But, in Punjab and nearby areas they are working with one or another faction of BKU, focusing all their activities in the struggle for MSP and against corporatization of agriculture!
This is the same case with those who call themselves Maoists, though they do not accept anything less than armed squad actions in the forest regions for liberation of semi-colonial, semi-feudal India! At the same time those groups who consider India as a capitalist country in the stage of socialist revolution, while some of them oppose the farmers’ struggle as a reactionary struggle led by the rich farmer class, others support it, in spite of their theory that only the working class is capable of leading any anti-capitalist movement!
In such an extremely complex situation, when the countrywide upsurge created by the farmers’ movement, two important questions calls clear-cut explanations: what should be the approach of the Communist Partyto the agrarian question in India and to the intensifying farmers’ movement? What should be the role of the Communist Party in present situation in developing the anti-fascist movement, and at the same time building the party pursuing the path of independent communist assertion while participating actively in different forms of united fronts?
To address the first question, we have to start with a historical analysis of th revolutionary line of the communist movement. As Lenin explained in “Imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism”, by the end of 19th century, capitalism was transformed to monopoly capitalism, i.e., imperialism. By that time, the imperialist forces had divided the Asian, African, Latin American countries among themselves. Among them, including India, largest number of these countries had become colonies of one imperialist country or other, In China and few other countries imperialist forces were contending for hegemony and were in semi-colonial stage, and the Latin American countries were dependent countries under US imperialist domination.
While US introduced capitalist transformation in the dependent countries, in the colonial and semi-colonial countries, the imperialists used the pre-capitalist, feudal and semi-feudal relations/forces as their social base for domination. It was by analyzing this international situation, the Comintern in 1921 document called for socialist revolution in the imperialist countries, and anti-imperialist, anti-feudal democratic revolution in the countries under various phases of colonization as democratic revolution, both together constituting the World Proletarian Socialist Revolution.
But, during the Second World War, the hitherto dominant imperialist power, Britain, became weaker, and US came to the leadership of the imperialist camp. In 1943 it convened the Brettenwood Conference and initiated the IMF, World Bank and GATT agreements to guide the post-war re-organization of the relations with the countries under colonization, introducing de-colonization by transfer of power to its junior partners in these countries, introducing the neo-colonial phase of imperialist domination. Under this, direct rule by imperialist powers was replaced by indirect control through increasing penetration of finance capital, technology, and market forces, along with military alliances. As part of this, the land reforms from above was advised, along with land ceiling laws and introduction of capitalist transformation of production relations in the agricultural sector.
In India, it was Punjab where irrigation was available with the completion of Bhakra Nangal project and the implementation of land ceiling laws took place was selected for the beginning of the Green Revolution by the end of 1950s. Soon using new hybrid seeds developed by the Indian and imperialist research institutes, chemicals and fertilizers, cultivation of wheat, rice and other food grains was started. Soon came up the question of marketing the outputs for which large inputs were used with the help of loans from money lenders and banks. These were new questions for which new answers were required.
When the CPI and CPI(M)embraced Soviet revisionist path and degenerated to parliamentary path, the Kisan organizations led by them abandoned the agrarian revolution based on revolutionary land reforms. When the GR areas were expanding fast, as they failed to recognize the changes taking place in the agrarian sector, they could not address the demands of the lower middle, middle and rich farmers who were adopting the GR mode for Minimum Support Prices for agricultural products and subsidy for inputs. Though the CPI(ML) and other streams of CRs after Naxalbari uprising adopted the line of agrarian revolution and initiated land struggles in some areas, their analysis of India as semi-feudal, failed them also to recognize the changes in the mode of production taking place in Punjab and expanding to nearby areas. So, they also could not address the problems of the new classes of lower middle, middle and rich peasants.
After the parliamentary left, when the revolutionary left also failed to recognize the transformation of imperialist plunder from colonial to neocolonial phase, and the fast changes taking place in the agriculture with the entry of finance capital, new technology and market forces, many new groups emerged addressing these issues. With the merger of eleven of these groups in Chandigarh n 1972, the Punjab Khetibari Zemindari Union was formed, which was later called Punjab Khetibari Union (PKU).In 1978, following the launching of the struggle for MSP and increase of subsidies, the PKU was transformed into the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) as a national forum for farmers with association to the Bharatiya Lok Dal of the Janata Party (Secular).
In 12 December 1980, an “All-India Kisan Sammelan” was organised which saw the unification of the Kisan Sangarsh Samiti (Haryana), Raytu Sangha (Karnataka) and Vyavasayigal Sangham (Tamil Nadu) under the ambit of the BKU. In 1982, the union faced a split under the designation of BKU (N) led by Narayanasamy Naidu and BKU (M) led by Bhupendra Singh Mann. It was however reunited by the intervention of SharadAnantrao Joshi under a federal structure with autonomous state units. Following the massive Delhi march, it was again re-organised in 17 October 1986 by Mahendra Singh Tikait with its headquarters in Sisauli in western Uttar Pradesh as a non-partisan organisation contrary to its previous association with the former Prime Minister, Charan Singh.
BKU continued without getting affiliated with any political parties. Later its federated units in all states faced many splits and some of them became inactive. In every state, especially in Punjab where it is the strongest aced faced the maximum splits, with all of them continuing as BKU groups. But in spite of all these splits, in Punjab and Haryana especially, all these groups fought for the Minimum Support Price for the agricultural products and succeeded to achieve the Agricultural Products Marketing Committees and numerous Mandis (markets) under it, ensuring the procurement of the 12 items at MSP and fast payment to the farmers. In spite of corruption and bureaucratic delays, it has ensured a better security for the farmers in Punjab and Haryana, with 50-55 % of them lower middle farmers owning less than 5 acres, 25-30 % of them middle owning 5 to 10 acres, and about 15 % of rich farmers owning more than 10 acres. It is because the three farm laws bull dozed by Modi rule will destroy the decades of security provided by the hard earned system, leading to their devastation under corporatization, that they are in the forefront of this do or die struggle.
The interesting feature is that whatever may be their organization’s ideological, political line about the changes taking place in the agriculture sector, not only the CPI, CPI(M), the RMPI, MCPI(U) like CPI(M) dissident groups, as well as most of the CPI(ML) or CR groups ranging from Liberation to ‘Maoists’ are active within some of the BKU groups or their peasant organizations are working with these BKU groups. At the same time, almost all of them have in the main abandoned the agrarian revolution addressing the problems of the landless and poor peasants and the agricultural workers. At Singhu and Tikri borders where almost all the farmers from Punjab and Haryana are camping, along with the BKU groups we can see the peasant organizations of all left parties/organizations, and left leaders who are active in most of the BKU groups, some of them in their leaderships. But at the same time, their units in other states keep away from the same task, fervently sticking to their semi-feudal analysis. One can only hope that the ongoing historic farmers’ struggle will compel them to abandon dogmatic approaches and force these organizations to make concrete analysis of the present situation and seek from truth.
Presently, the transformation in to capitalist mode of production is the dominant trend in the agriculture field and the question of marketing is the concern of the farmers who own even small holdings. So, the struggle to repeal the 3 Farm Laws imposed by the Modi government has become the concern of all cultivators. The Communist movement should recognize this reality and peasant organization focusing on it should be developed in all states make the members conscious about the negative aspects of corporatization.
Along with this, the organization of the agricultural workers and poor peasants should be developed with a program of revolutionary land reforms providing land to the tillers, developing co-operatives for development of agriculture in this land, better wages and continuity of work for the MNREGA workers, housing, healthcare, education like facilities etc. Organizations in these two fields should work together to develop the powerful peasant movement as part of the program for completing the tasks of the democratic revolution, immediately overcoming present ideological, political weaknesses.
The second task is to build th broadest possible anti-fascist united front to end the RSS led Modi rule as early as possible, and at the same time build the Communist movement always pursuing the path of independent communist assertion. This can be explained as follows:
Firstly, it has to be recognized that advent of neo-fascist RSS to power through the Modi government and its saffronization of all walks of life at maddening pace, while surrendering the country to neoliberal/corporate loot is the main danger confronting the people. So, we should work for the broadest understanding among all forces opposed to RSS/BJP to defeat it in all fields including parliamentary struggle. Any weakness in this approach will pave the way for further strengthening of the fascist forces, and should be exposed and defeated.
While doing so, it is imperative that the path of independent assertion of the revolutionary line should be pursued, without harming the united front. For example, in an election, while trying to unite all forces to vote out BJP, the party or the revolutionary left alliance led by it should put forward its Manifesto and campaign for it along with fielding its own candidates where it has sufficient strength among the masses. It amounts to building a Mass Political Platform to defeat the fascists.
Secondly, based on a Common Program evolved through mutual discussions according to concrete conditions, putting forward the vision of democratization of the society and an alternate path of development opposed to neoliberal paradigm, the left and democratic forces, oppressed classes and sections and people’s movements in the fields of ecological protection, secular-socio-cultural- fields and progressive intellectuals should be united to develop all forms of struggle including parliamentary struggle as part of the class struggle.
Thirdly, based on a self-critical analysis of the experience of hitherto communist movement and analysis of present situation, the theoretical offensive should be carried forward struggling against all alien trends for uniting all communist revolutionary forces and to develop mass fronts of youth and students and to recruit large number of cadres from them as part of building a powerful communist party capable of leading every people’s movement to higher phases and to mobilize the masses for a countrywide upsurge to seize political power. In the excellent objective situation and enthusiasm created by the ongoing historic farmers’ struggle let us carry forward the theoretical struggle and practical work in all fields with the outlook discussed above.
What happened on 26th January, the Republic Day proved our worst fears correct. As was apprehended, following the drama of 11 round of discussions, the intervention of Supreme Court, the last minute permission from Delhi Police to hold the Tractor Rally through agreed routes, Amit Shah and Delhi police worked with RSS goons to infiltrate the border areas where farmers were camping, especially at Gazhipur on UP border with a blue-print to create disturbances, with Delhi Police violating the agreement to open the barricaded road in the morning, erecting more barricades along the agreed routes or strengthening the existing barricades, thus provoking the farmers who were forced to stay for 61 days in bitter cold, with 155 of their comrades becoming martyrs, indulging in brutal attacks on selected spots provoking the farmers further, leading to the disturbances that happened on that day, with one farmer driving tractor killed and hundreds of farmers injured.
Right from 26th morning, the Godi media worked hard to spread false news to create confusion to create the image that the farmers are responsible for all disturbances, while it is thee Modi—Shah government and RSS- Police nexus as happened in Northeast Delhi pogrom, tis time ona mega scale. Soon the Godi media stepped in demanding action and now the movement is under fierce attack. All it leaders are booked, hundreds of farmers are arrested, and a vicious slander campaign using lies are resorted to. It is a grave situation.
But the AIKSCC and KSM are standing united and called for observing as a day of fast in protest, while postponing the parliament march. They have called for continuing the struggle mobilizing more forces. This is a critical time. This is the time for the Party along with all left forces and struggling sections to stand with the farmer movement. Let us try hrd to strengthen the movement at this critical juncture!
Delhi Police And Those Criminal Elements Who Infiltrated In The Rally Are Responsible For The Violence!
Do Not Allow Modi Government, RSS Parivar And Godi Media To Divert Attention From The Central Issue, Repeal Of Three Farm Acts, To Vandalism, For Which They Are Responsible!
Rally In Support Of Repeal Of The Three Farm Acts And The Farmers’ Struggle Till It Is Achieved!
CPI(ML) Red Star extends revolutionary greetings to the hundreds of thousands of farmers and supporters who organized a mighty rally along with thousands of tractors through the streets of Delhi reiterating their demand for repeal the 3 farm laws for corporatization of agriculture.
Earlier, after the Supreme Court asked the Delhi police to take decision on allowing the rally, the Delhi police and central home ministry under Amit Shaw were consciously creating confusion, repeating that permission will not be allowed either inside Delhi or through the outer ring road, forcing the Kisan Sangharsh Morcha to declare that whether permission is given or not they will organize the rally. It was at this stage, Delhi police came forward announcing permission for the rally and through mutual discussion three routes were agreed upon. The KSM and AIKSCC leaders made all arrangements accordingly.
But from 26th morning the police tried to create problems by not removing the barricades as agreed upon; instead they strengthened the barricades in the night and erected numerous other barricades on the way. Enraged by it the farmers who had endured all difficulties for last 61 days in the bitter cold conditions during which more than 150 of their comrades became martyrs, decided to break the barricades and march in to Delhi.
By 9.30 they broke the barricades at Singhu, Tikri and Gazipur borders and started the march with the farmers on foot in the front and tractors next. But the police and other security wings created provocations lathi charging and firing tear gas shells on the farmers near Azadpur by-pass and Nangloi, and killing a farmer in police firing near ITO. Along with this some criminal elements infiltrated the rally and tried to create disturbances allegedly with the knowledge of police and RSS parivar.
Because of these disturbances some of the farmers were provoked, forcing them to march up to ITO, Red Fort and some other spots in the city. Utilising these incidents the spoke persons of Modi government, RSS parivar and Godi media have started malicious propaganda that farmers resorted to vandalism, diverting attention from the fact that in spite of the participation of so many lakhs of people, vast majority of them maintained discipline as instructed by their leaders, and it was the provocation from the police and the acts of the criminal infiltrators responsible for whatever disturbances happened.
There is a conscious effort by these forces and Amit Shah to use these disturbances in order to divert attention from the central demand of the many lakhs of people who rallied in Delhi and the many more lakhs who rallied in Mumbai, Kolkata and other centers calling for repeal of the three farm laws for corporatization of agriculture.
We appeal to the working class, all oppressed classes and sections of people to reject this conspiracy of the corporate fascist Modi government to malign the farmers movement against corporatization and to firmly stand behind the demand of the farmers for the repeal of these farm laws with the slogans given above.
Obviously, Modi regime cannot ignore India’s historic economic contraction on account of its pro-corporate and fascist policies since it is already an acknowledged fact even by IMF and other neoliberal centres. Hence, after acknowledging this at the outset, the Economic Survey 2020-21 has cunningly identified COVID-19 pandemic as the sole reason for India’s biggest economic collapse, and without any qualm has camouflaged the unprecedented crisis in terms of industrial stagnation, unemployment, widening inequality, sharpening wealth concentration and so on that reached horrific proportions on the eve of COVID.
At the same time, instead of admitting the great havoc resulting from the superimposition of the most stringent, most coercive and most prolonged lockdown, that too in the absence of any concomitant badly needed health and social security interventions that had imparted to the economy, the Economic Survey has justified the “great lockdown” in terms of its “life saving” effect and unsubstantiated claim on lower death rates. It now predicts a “V-shaped recovery supported by COVID vaccination drive” that also is subject to many controversies. Being forced to admit a 7.7 economic contraction during 2020-21, it envisages an 11 percent real GDP growth rate in 2021-22, backed by a false statement of IMF which is eager to justify the criminal corporatization of agricultural sector also at its behest. At the same upholding the need for countercyclical fiscal policy during economic crisis, the Survey also hints at new tranches of stimulus packages which are in store for the corporate classes in the forthcoming Budget.
Perfectly in tune with its far-right, pro-corporate orientation and indicating heavier doses of far-right policies, the Economic Survey has strongly defended new Farm Laws, saying they herald a new era of market freedom and improvement in the lives of “small and marginal farmers in India”. It argues that around 85 per cent of the total number of farmers are the biggest sufferer of the “regressive” APMC-regulated market regime, even as India is witnessing the biggest and long-running farmers’ agitation seeking repeal of these legislations. Among other things, it also proudly notes years 2019 and 2020 as landmark years in history of labour reforms during which 29 central labour laws amalgamated, rationalized and simplified into Four Labour Codes. The Survey also praises the Modi regime for taking a series of monetary, fiscal and tax policies for transforming India as the leading destination of FII (a euphemism for foreign speculative capital) in the world.
To be precise, the Economic Survey, should be seen as a prelude to the biggest-ever sell-outs to the most corrupt corporates that will be there in the Budget 2021 to be presented to parliament on February 1. The hike of petrol price per litre to Rs 91 on the eve of the budget, while it is only Rs 51 in Nepal, is a warning to what is going to come out in the budget.
K N Ramachadran
CPI (ML) Red Star
30th January 2021
Comrades and friends,
When the mighty farmers’ movement has reached the 10th day, it is getting strengthened day by day with more and more farmers and working masses who support them are reaching Delhi from all parts of the country to strengthen it. But, instead of accepting their just demands, the Modi government is engaged in weakening the movement by proposing the dilution of their demands. As we all know, after issuing the three black bills for total corporatization of agriculture as an ordinance, they were bull-dozed through the parliament, getting approval in the Rajya Sabha in most undemocratic manner. Throughout this whole process, no effort was made to seek opinion of the farmers’ associations, after the bill was moved no steps were taken to seek discussion by sending it to a select committee. So, when confronted with such a mighty resistance from the farming community as a whole, if the Modi government is proposing amendments to these three acts, without withdrawing the core issue-the corporatization of agriculture-, is a clever move to weaken and destroy the demands for withdrawal of the three acts along with the Electricity Bill 2020.
In this situation the AIKSCC has only one option before it: intensify the ongoing movement to higher levels to compel the Modi government to withdraw these acts. It is in this situation the call for observing Bharat Bandh on 8th December is given; side by side all roads to Delhi shall be blocked on that day.
CPI(ML) Red Star fully support this demand and all party state committees to come out with their full strength to mobilize all those forces who can be mobilized, form People for Farmers’ Movement like platforms uniting all the forces who supported the Anti-CAA,NPR movement, to chalk out concrete programs according to conditions in each state, and make the Bharat Bandh a great success.
Get prepared for a protracted people’s movement to defeat all heinous moves of RSS neo-fascists through Modi government to weaken the farmers’ movement! Give it a crushing blow to these forces of reaction by making the farmers’ achieve its goals! Strive hard to make the Bharat Bandh a great success, and strengthen the solidarity movement by launching a struggle platform like People for Farmers’ Movement!
CPI(ML) Red Star.
5th December 2020