Barnala Conf

“Confide in struggles not in elections” called the Peoples Welfare Rally. of the Bharatiya Kisan Union Ekta(Ugrahan).On February 17th farmers, farm-labourers, women, youth, industrial labourers, contractual labourers and toiling people flooded Barnala grain market. Scene resembled a festival of the masses. Revolutionary democratic spirit was elevated to a height rarely transcended or scaled in Punjab or even India, with an attendance of around 70000 people. The organisation did just what the doctor ordered in the required situation. It was manifestation of the turbulence raging within the masses of Punjab aspiring for a genuine revolutionary change.

It was virtually the only event of it’s kind qualitatively, in the period of elections being held in 5 states. Nowhere in India has any event sharpened the cutting edge of people’s revolutionary class struggles or exposed the sheer hollowness of the sham democracy as the BKU(Ugrahan ) People’s Welfare conference. No event has made such a sharp distinction of genuine democracy from the oppressive character of ruling class politics as the Barnala rally. In the history of Punjab it is the biggest ever gathering organized by a revolutionary democratic force on the issue of elections. Ironically it even in terms of numbers surpassed those of gatherings organized by the ruling class parties.

It was a tribute to the methodical preparatory work and planning of the Bharatiya Kisan Union Ekta(Ugrahan)The words of the speakers literally melted the hearts of the audiences making them relate their day to day class issues with the broader political spectrum. Expressing surgical methodology the leader’s adressing the conference created a platform which would pave the path for the people to understand the need for building their own democratic organizations and a genuine revolutionary democratic alternative. No stone was left unturned in summarizing the nefarious anti-people policies of all the ruling class parties and the bankruptcy of the so called parliamentary democracy. The conference also sharpened the sword of the ongoing struggles of all oppressed sections of society by consolidating concept of united front of the oppressed classes and linking how all oppressed classes should wage struggles together. Although the revolutionary alternative was not projected a base was created whereby the masses could grasp its concept. It was praiseworthy that the speakers spoke at equlibrium with the level of the people’s political consciousness.It was remarkable the manner the leaders made the subtle distinction between autocratic rule and genuine democracy and linked all the aspects with concrete class struggles waged by the masses. I was most important with the simple and lucid manner the speakers conveyed the message to the masses.

I was privileged to be present and will remember this event for the rest of my life. I am convinced any revolutionary democrat would have cherished the event as a landmark one. The conference continued the legacy of the 2012 Pagdi Sambhal conference at the same venue and the 2017 Raj Badlo,Samaj Badlo rally at Bathinda.Few events in India have ever more intensely or sharply distinguished between fake ruling class democracy and a genuinely democratic social order. I wish a documentary film was made of this rally, translated into Hindi and English.

However  regret that the presence of dalit agricultural labour was negligible. The Integration of the agricultural labour with the landed peasantry is essential for an agrarian movement. It is my strong conviction that even the BKU(Ugrahan) is not placing sufficient emphasis on this factor The participation of intellectuals was also sparse as well as Industrial workers.

It was also regrettable that other organizations from the other revolutionary democratic streams did not participate in the Barnala conference. Mass organizations adhering to trend of C.P.I. (M.L.) New Democracy like Kirti Kisan Union and Pendu Mazdor Union supported NOTA, and felt that slogan of the BKU(Ugrahan) of neither calling for boycott or participation was baseless and confusing. In Contrast the pro-Maoist organisations like Lok Sangram Morcha,Krantikari Pendu Mazdoor Union and BKU(Krantikari) held a conference calling for election boycott on February 11th.No doubt I admire their sincerity in combating the autocratic social system, in their respective programmes. However whatever their level of conviction they have not extricated themselves from dogmatic thinking.. It was surprising that even the BKU (Dakaunda) abstained from participation in the Peoples Welfare rally at Barnala.

Report of Conference

Addressing the rally General secretary of the organisation Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan raising the fundamental issues of people said that for real welfare of the people their is a dire need to fulfill the need of land of the poor farmers and labourers by implementing the sharp land reforms and by ending the hold of feudal lords and corporates on agriculture, to end the money-laundering system, to stop the policies of privatisation of government institutions and public departments and to open the government treasury for the common people by imposing huge taxes on the feudal lords and the corporates. He also raised the issue to end the imperialist opression and exploitation, the policies of privatisation, liberalisation, globalisation and new economic policies and to nullify the anti-people and anti-national agreements with the imperialist countries.

State president of the union Joginder Singh Ugrahan said the experience of last 70 years is witness that neither the parliaments implemented pro-people decisions and laws nor the ruling parties did anything in this direction. Instead the all the ruling parties have been implementing the pro-corporate and pro- feudalism policies with great eagerness after 1991.He accused that due to these imperialist policies the farmers lost their land, the burden of debt increased on the farmers and farm labourers, inflation and unemployment are mounted and the country was made more dependent on the imperialist countries and institution. He said the matter is not only to implement these policies but the electoral parties and parliament manufactured and imposed the repressive laws to snub the voice of people. He said untill our country will come out of the pro-imperialist and WTO agreements, till that time their is no possibility to raise the pro-people issues by any good or bad person in these parliamentary institutions. He said our organisation appeals the people to take the faithful and tested path of struggles and to come out of the gimmicks of the parliamentary parties.

Senior vice-president of union Jhanda Singh Jethuke said that whatever the people gained untill now, they have gained it through the struggles not by the elections. Commenting on the slogans of freedom by elections, he said that the farmers and labourers have get the freedom only through their struggles. He called the people to build and strengthen the unity of different classes and to take the path of struggle to establish their dignity and status.

The state president of Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union Lachman Singh Sewewala presented the actual alternative model for the welfare of farmers, farm-labourers and toiling people. He said the freedom from ailments of unemployment, inflation, debt, suicides, environmental degradation, casteist and gender discrimination and patriarchy , only can be achieved by justified distribution of land among the farmers and farm-labourers , the arrangements of irrigation and machinery for the development of agriculture, arrangement of interest free and long duration debt for agriculture, to open the treasure to establish the agriculture supportive and employment generating industry and to end the interference of imperialism and imperialist institutions in our economy. He said this development model can only be established through mass struggles and not by the elections.

The leader of women- wing of B.K.U. (Ugrahan) discussing the distinctive role played by the women in the struggle against three black laws and many other struggles said that the women not only participated in great numbers in these struggles, but they have also played the leading role to organise and expand these struggles. She said to implement the people’s welfare model there is a great need to organise and mobilise the women in the mass struggles.

The gathering was also addressed by the Leader of Moulder and Steel workers organisation Punjab Harjinder Singh, Naujwan Bharat Sabha leader Ashwani Ghudda and Punjab Students Union (Shaheed Randhawa) leader Husiyar Singh Salemgarh, Contractual workers Morcha leader Jagroop Singh, Democratic Teachers Front state president Digvijay Singh.

Youth leader Ashwani Guddha spoke about how constitutional democracy or a constitution was meaningless if no equality existed within the social system. In his view inequality obstructed the masses from benefiting from any genuine right declared in the constitution. He gave concrete examples of unemployment prevailing and how the social order alienated the youth. In his view agri based industries should be formed to provide youth employment.

Student leader Hushiyar Salemgarh narrated how the new education policy was a virtual manifestation of globalization and imperialism and enslaved the student community .The menace of privatisation was adressed by him. In his view the student community should formulate an independent agenda of it’s own to devise a new system, even if complying with advertisements of the rulers.Hushiyar spoke about how the current curriculum was so anti-people ,which culturally enslaved the student community. He highlighted how such a system breeded many evils like unemployment and drugs.

Shingara Singh Mann state general secretary of B.K.U. (Ugrahan) played the role of stage secretary. He urged the gathering to pass the special resolution to criticise the BJP and Karnataka government for stopping the muslim girls to wear hijab in schools. He said the attacks on the freedom of people to eat, wear according to their own wishes and to practice their religion should be stopped.

Under the direction of Amolak singh of Punjab Lok Sabheyacharak Manch, the team of Jaswinder Pappi of Manvta Kala Manch Nagar presented the action song ” Votan da Bharam todo, lok takat jodo”. Apart from Inqlabi Kavisari Jatha Rasoolpur, Jugraj Dhaula, Mithu Singh Kilabharian, Dharminder Masani, Ajmer Singh Aklia, Nargis and Sarbjit Maur presented the revolutionary songs and exposed the dividing politics of the ruling parties.

Harsh Thakor is a freelance journalist. Toured India, particularly Punjab .Written on Mass movements


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