Responding to the the call of Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), today (26 November, 2022), thousands of farmers, supported by workers, students, youth, women and ordinary people, staged mega foot-marches and rallies all over the country. Protest gatherings engulfed 25 state capitals, more than 300 district headquarters and numerous tehsil headquarters .History of a kind was made. The spirit of resistance engulfed the entire nation like a spark igniting into a prairie fire. A manifestation of the polarisation of democratic forces against the anti-people policies of the BJP government and repressive socio-economic order as a whole. An ample testimony of the striking capacity of the masses of India to challenge neo-fascism. Rallies were staged in cities of Chandigarh, Lucknow, Patna,Kolkata, Trivandrum, Chennai,Hyderabad,Bhopal and Jaipur, comprising a total of around 5 lakh persons. Altogether, it is estimated that more than 3000 protests were held all over India. More than 5 million people poured out on the streets to join the ‘Raj Bhawan Chalo’ or ‘March to Raj Bhawan’ call of SKM, to register their protest against the anti-farmer BJP-led Union Govt and send Memorandum of Demand of Farmers to the President of India through State Governors, to intervene and stop the anti-farmer activity of the ruling party at the Centre.
It was on 26 November in 2020 that SKM had launched the historic “Delhi Chalo” movement, which marked the world’s longest and largest farmers movement, and crystallised a historic triumph of farmers from the depths of adversity against the corporate-political nexus to displace farmers from their land and livelihood.
The three farm laws, which sparked the historic farmers’ rebellion, were meant to liberalise India’s agriculture markets on behalf of WTO and open it to big national and international corporations. Farmers and farmers’ unions interpreted these laws as an attack on their livelihoods and identity. Thousands of farmers marched from their villages on tractors and trolleys, and camped on highways at the borders leading to Delhi. Amidst a raging Covid-19 pandemic, farmers heroically sustained their struggle demanding repeal of the three laws along with legal guarantee of MSP for all crops, and fcompelled the union government retreat. On 19 November 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi withdrew the three farm laws. It was remarkable the manner the farmers organisations participating devised strategies of such original nature and never fell into the trap of ruling class politics.
The Modi Government betrayed the farmers by not implementing the written assurances made to SKM on 9 December 2021. Today, farmer union leaders submitted a Memorandum to the President of India through the State Governors on the betrayal of promises made by the Union Government to the farmers. The memorandum stated :
On the occasion of Constitution Day, farmers across India, through the Governors of their respective states, are reminding you of the promises made by the Union Government to the farmers. As you will be aware, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, in a letter to the Union Government dated 21 November 2021, had drawn the attention of the Government towards its six pending demands. In response to this, on 9 December 2021, Mr. Sanjay Aggarwal, Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, wrote a letter (Secretary/AFW/2021/Miss/1) to the Samyukta Kisan Morcha. In this letter, he gave assurance on behalf of the Government on many issues, and urged the withdrawal of the movement. Relying on this letter of the Government, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha decided to lift the Morchas on the border of Delhi and all the protest demonstrations on 11 December 2021. Today, over eleven months later, the Union Government has not fulfilled the promises made to the farmers.
The “March to Raj Bhawans” today marks the beginning of the next phase of the farmers’ protest till all the demands including “Karz Mukti – Poora Daam” — “Freedom from Indebtedness and Full Remunerative Price” are fulfilled by the government. The farmers’ demands include
- Legally Guaranteed Minimum Support Price (MSP)* at C2+50% for all produce for all farmers
- Freedom from Indebtedness* through a comprehensive Loan Waiver scheme
- Withdrawal of Electricity Amendment Bill 2022*
- Dismissal and Legal Action against Union Minister of State for Home Affairs* Ajay Mishra Teni, who is accused in the Lakhimpur Kheri massacre of farmers and a journalist
- Comprehensive and Effective Crop Insurance Scheme* to speedily compensate farmers for crop loss due to natural calamities
- Farmers Pension* of Rs 5,000 per month to all marginal, small and medium scale farmers and agricultural workers
- Withdrawal of all False Cases registered against Farmers* during the Farmers’ Movement
- Payment of Compensation* to families of all farmers who were martyred during Farmers’ Movement, along with the major local demands of the respective states.
Democrats must salute all farmers, farm labourers, workers, students, youth, women and other concerned citizens in making such a spectacular success of the ‘Raj Bhawan Chalo’ program .SKM appealed to all democratic forces to consistently stage nationwide struggles till all the demands are met.
The draft of the memorandum submitted to the State Governors is attached below.
Responding to the nationwide call of the Samyukta Kisan morcha, under the leadership of 33 farmer organizations of Punjab, today, thousands of farmers of Punjab thronged towards Raj Bhavan in the state capital Chandigarh and demanded legal guarantee law of MSP under the C2+50% formula. March symbolised the inauguration of the 2nd phase of the struggle over the demand for the guarantee law .The SKM had called for a march to the Raj bhavans encompassing the country on November 26. According to reports, marches have engulfed than two dozen states. Today’s march of Punjab played a major role in establishing the overall coordination. A spark literally looked like turning into a prairie fire with spirit of resistance shimmering at a crescendo, with a sea of famers flags assembling at the ground. Manifestation of the relentless spirit of the farming community in defying the nefarious Ruling classes -especially the BJP and the escalating political consciousness of the bankruptcy of the social order as a whole.
In the memorandum sent by the SKM to the President of the India through the governors of the states, demanded making guarantee law on MSP with C2+50% formula. Wave or remission of farm loans, withdrawal of Electricity Amendment Bill 2022, main conspirator of Lakhimpur Khiri incident, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay
Mishra Teni should be arrested and dismissed from the cabinet and immediately release of the four arrested farmers implicated in false cases.
Apart from providing compensation to martyred and injured farmers’ families,,demands were placed fo comprehensive and effective crop insurance scheme for all crops, implementation of monthly pension scheme for farmers and agricultural-labourers and withdrawal of police cases registered in all states and Union Territories during farmer movement. These demands have been raised in the memorandum.
Preceding the launching of the march, the provincial leaders of 33 farmer organizations addressed the farmers gathered in the open ground in front of the Gurdwara Amb Sahib, summarising the importance of launching the second phase of the struggle by the SKM and why it was imperative to build a nationwide farmer movement. Learning from the historic leading role played by the people of Punjab in conquering the Delhi morchas, he appealed to the farmers that in this second phase too, the people of Punjab will have to come to the party to execute a dominant role. play a leading role.
Observing the propaganda raised by the rulers on the right of the people to struggle and various forms of struggle for the past few days, the farmer leaders said that until the agenda of centralization of powers in the country along with fascism is eradicated, as long as the policies that patronise the foreign corporates and repression of the farmers-labourers and other oppressed sections of the society face continue, the struggle will never terminate.
The propaganda launched by the rulers against the farmer’s movement will prove to be very short-lived, soon people will understand the ground reality of this diversionary propaganda . They appealed to the farmers to strive to refute this misleading propaganda.
The unity established amongst the farmers groups comprising so many varying trends is the most positive phenomena witnessed in the people’s movements of India. Most complementary the manner they soughted out mutual differences. Praiseworthy the manner it has demarcated from Ruling class politics and prevented ruling class politicians from all trends to rob the platforms.
It must be given priority that the famer’s movement is not cut from that of the landless dalit agricultural labour or Adivasi community, who are an integral part of such a movement. Economism must be guarded against and the movement must never de link itself from the agrarian movement or land distribution question. It should also establish links with the working class of common ground .The movement should also leave no stone unturned in challenging the wave of Hinduva neo-fascism.
Harinder Singh Lakhowal, Dr. Darshanpal, Buta Singh Burjgill, Joginder Ugrahan, Harmeet Singh Kadian, Nirbhai Singh Dhudike, Baldev Singh Nihalgarh, Ruldu Singh Mansa, Manjit Singh Rai, Baljit Singh Grewal, Dr. Satnam Ajnala, Satnam Singh Bahru, Jangveer Singh Chauhan, Mukesh Chandra, Furman Singh Sandhu, Surjit Singh Phool, Balwinder Singh Raju Aulakh, Buta Singh Shadipur, Veer Singh Barwa, Kiranjit Singh Sekhon, Kuldeep Singh Wajidpur, Binder Singh Golewala, Maluk Singh Hirke. , Hardev Singh Sandhu, Harjit Singh Ravi, Nirvel Singh Daleke, Rajwinder Kaur, Gurbaksh Singh Barnala, Kirpa Singh Nathuwala, Bhupinder Singh and Kulwinder Singh Ghuman among those who spoke in the massive public meeting.
Harsh Thakor is freelance journalist who has covered mass movements around India and frequently visited Punjab to attend programmes .