Punjab Election and the farmers


History looks like repeating itself  like in the 2012 and 2017 elections where the central programme of farmers groups was attended by around 12-15000 persons., which I personally witnessed in Barnala and Bathinda.The tactic of active political campaign  proved correct with those calling for boycott or participating making negligible impact. It effectively raised the democratic political consciousness of the peasants and agricultural labourers of Punjab and consolidated their integration, with meticulous preparation programmes at the very grassroots, projecting class issues. The recent successful farmer’s victory in deposing bills has sharpened the cutting sword of class struggle. Nowhere in India was a democratic revolutionary programme projected at such a broad scale, in an open gathering.

“All our members are free to vote for any political party. The sole purpose of the awareness campaign is to make the farmers aware of the divisive policies of politicians and to motivate them to further strengthen our unity to launch agitation against the government for the fulfilment of our long pending demands,” said Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan, BKU Ugrahan general secretary. The impact of the awareness campaign can already be seen on farmers as many of them have decided not to attend any political rally.

“The repeal of central farm laws has proved that united farmers could get all their demands fulfilled. Majority of farmers along with their families are attending our meetings to listen to our leaders and pledging that they will stage protests and not attend any political gathering,” said Gurwinder Singh, a Sunam farmer.

The campaign of the BKU Ugrahan has once again started sensitising farmers, who have started coming in large numbers to listen to their leaders against the policies of various governments.

Special teams of the BKU Ugrahan have started organising meetings and circulating pamphlets containing detailed information about their pending demands and how politicians have caused losses to farmers, triggering a fresh wave of anger against politicians.

The BKU Dakonda faction has been mobilising farmers in Mansa and Bathinda in its bid to garner maximum support for the ‘Jujhar rally’, a state-level protest scheduled in Barnala on January 21.

Union leaders said the rally was aimed at targeting the state and central governments and all political parties that were resorting to ‘vote bank politics’ without giving due consideration to farmers’ demands or bringing reforms in the farm sector.

Makhan Singh Bhaini Bagha, a senior leader of the union in Mansa, said, “Preparations are on for the Jujhar rally. We have been holding regular meetings and door-to-door activities to mobilise not just farmers, but also people from all walks of life.”

Bharti Kisan Union BKU (EKTA UGRAHAN) decided  to launch mass awareness campaign for the path of struggles in-place of the electoral games. One lakh copies of the pamphlet for educative campaign handed over to the districts presidents and secretaries. Ø Presidents and secretaries of the 16 districts along with state leaders participated in a meeting in  Barnala .

In  the State Committee Meeting of the “ Bharti Kisan Union (EKTA UGRAHAN) presided by Joginder Singh Ugrahan, has decided to launch mass awareness campaign in order to make it a focus that mass struggles are the only alternative, like that of the country wide struggle against Black laws of Agriculture , that has been won recently. While Issuing a press statement Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan, General Secretary said that the policy of the union towards elections is not that of boycott at all rather the crystal clear policy is to remain aloof. Further clarifying the meaning and concept of aloofness is that in any of the Government conducted elections right from State Assembly downwards at any level, any of its leaders holding the union office from the Block level to the to the State Level, shall neither contest the elections at any level, nor shall support / canvass for any other candidate in any manner at all. Each member of the union has a democratic right to decide whether to vote for any candidate or not to vote at all. This decision and the policy is light of the fact that all the parties contesting the elections divide the farmers and all toiling masses and as such cause a breach of their unity which is so essential for strong struggles in as much as the resolution of their burning basic issues is always through such unity and struggles. He said that immediately after the National meeting of the Sanyukat Kisan Morcha on 15th of January, the Union shall chalk out the concrete plan of this awareness campaign and shall initiate a chain of educative campaign in the districts of its influence. In order to equip the leading teams at each level with material and issues for the educative campaign the understanding and view point of the union has been printed in brief and one lakh copies of the same have been handed over to the teams of all the districts today for further distribution. In order to free the farmers and farm labour from debt trap and suicides, the major issues that need to be addressed are the end to the discriminatory land holding by way of effective land reforms, end to money lending, and in addition to the issues that ruin the life and liberty of all the toiling masses. The issues of vast unemployment, price rise, increasing costs of services, the drug menace etc as a result of the policies of privatization, commercialization, globalization, also need to be addressed. These can only be resolved through strenuous life and death struggles. This educative campaign is for the mental and physical preparation of the farmers for such sternous long drawn struggles for their emancipation. In this meeting the presidents and secretaries of the 16 districts of the union along with Jhanda Singh Jethuke , Shingara Singh Mann, Janak Singh Bhutal, Jagtar Singh Kala Jhar, Harinder Kaur Bindu, Paramjit Kaur Pitho and Kamaljit Kaur Barnala , participated and presented their views.

The Lok Morcha Punjab,a democratic revolutionary platform formed in 1996, plans to hold regular meetings in town  areas explain people of the need to build revolutionary alternative to replace the repressive so called democracy. It plans to mobilise farmers, agricultural workers, govt.employees and teacher’s .It calls for all oppressed classes to build their revolutionary organisations and places accent on agrarian revolution. It has the backing of revolutionary intellectual slike Narinder Kumar Jeet,Amolak Singh ,Yashpal  etc and mass leaders like Lacchman Singh Sewewala .This platform will project  the revolutionary alternative, unlike the farmers groups. The qualitative aspect is significant here as it can only relate to people of higher political consciousness.

A major challenge of the election campaign is to bridge the gap between the landed jat farmers and the dalit agricultural labour to sow the seeds of an agrarian movement. Mobilisation of industrial workers also has significance, being the most politically conscious class. As well as progressive intellectuals .Another important issue is linking it with the movement against the fascist Bharatiya Janata Party, nationwide. Challenging the reformist and revisionist programme of left parties is also an important task. Economism must be confronted tooth and nail. Economic demands must be linked with political ones. The poster of the Communist revolutionary organisation also has a lot of importance, in guiding the democratic forces, as the state committee poster of the Communist Party Re-Organisation Centre of India (Marxist-Leninist) ,in earlier years. Contradictions between ruling class parties must be tactically exploited. Illusions of the parliamentary system must be dispelled t the very base.

The Zameen Prapt Sangarsh committee is also undertaking a door to door campaign propagating how the dalits are enslaved by the current system and the importance of class and caste struggle.

It is regrettable that some organisations like the Lok Sangram Morcha ,Bharatiya Kisan Union(Krantikari)and the Krantikari Pendu Mazdoor Union are calling for election boycott, when people are not politically prepared to accept it.It is a form of imposing politics on the people. On the other hand groups participating are dancing to the tune of the oppressive rulers, and creating illusions in the people. I dearly hope that revolutionary forces like C.P.I. (M.L) New Democracy ,refrain from participating in elections as before.

I deeply wish that the Lok Morcha Punjab pamphlet would be translated into Hindi and English, for readers all over India. I recommend everyone to hear translation of speech of Joginder Singh Ugrahan on January 30th.

Harsh Thakor is a freelance journalist. Toured India, particularly Punjab .Written on Mass movements ,,Massline,Maoism on blogs like Democracy and Class Struggle and frontierweekly

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