Jan Chetna Yatra from Kolkata to Varanasi aims to forge unity between struggling forces and movements


A major campaign has started from Kolkata to Varanasi, at the initiative of several left-revolutionary organisations, named Jan Chetna Yatra in Eastern India. The Yatra began from Kolkata on the 6th of December, marking the Babri Demolition Day as one of the major events for the Fascist mobilization. Jan Chetna Yatra, with the tagline ‘fighting fascism and neoliberalism’ written in the central banner, aims to counter the fascist mass movement by raising awareness within people about the communal agenda of RSS-BJP and their corporate-friendly anti-people and pro-imperialist policies. On 2nd December, in a press conference held in Delhi, various sections from came together in solidarity with the Yatra. More than a thousand people joined the inaugural rally in Kolkata and around 100 people are continuously travelling the whole path while people from the several regions through which it passes will keep joining and hosting local programs.

The Yatra, which completed its Bengal phase on the 10th of December after doing rounds of campaigns in the old industrial belts of Hooghly which reels under the crisis of de-industrialisation and has recently come under the threats of intense communal mobilisations as RSS harps on the communal faultlines within largely unemployed youth in the region, the Yatra passed through the agrarian belt of Hooghly, nearby Singur, once a site of anti-neoliberal land acquisition resistance, it passed through the agrarian belt of East Bardhaman, which is currently facing a deep agrarian crisis as the peasants lack effective support from government to earn their livelihoods and the agricultural labourers lose jobs due to import of harvesters. In the next phase, the Yatra entered the Bankura district, largely inhabited by the tribal population. The Yatra emphasised the newly framed amendments to the Forest Act by the RSS BJP-led government which is at the service of the MNCs and thus wants these companies to freely plunder the natural resources, which would result in the destruction and degradation of livelihood of the large tribal sections of the country. At the same time, it also emphasised how the RSS is befooling the Adivasi population by trying to bring them under the fold of Hindus and giving them false hopes of bringing in the mainstay of Hindu society and thus the promise of a better-dignified life.

Moving on from Bankura, the Yatra entered into the regions of West Bardhaman, which was a hotbed of struggles in mining industries and steel industries, which have steadily seen a decline since the onset of neo-liberalisation, resulting in worsening living conditions and welfare provisions, high contractualisations, degrading ecological problems and a sudden rise of communal mobilisations, banking upon the huge section of unemployed youth. The Yatra is yet to continue its task of exposing the fascist programme of the RSS-BJP as well as their service to the imperial-capitalist policies, through the colliery belts of Dhanbad and Bokaro in Jharkhand, to rural belts of Gaya, Aurangabad, Sasaram in Bihar and finally in Varanasi of Uttar Pradesh which is one of the model laboratories of fascistic experiments.

This Yatra is an effort to forge unity towards building effective on-ground struggles as a counter to the fascist onslaught. At the same time, the Yatra also emphasises the limitation of solely relying on electoral alliances within several non-fascist bourgeois forces, such as the INDIA alliance. The experience of creating such electoral alliances does not attest to the fact that it has been effective in sidelining the fascist threat or marginalizing the Hindutva agenda through the assertion of agendas of the toiling people. Rather, we have seen several parties of this alliance toeing the pro-neoliberal model of the RSS-BJP, or even playing the cards of so-called ‘soft-Hindutva’. While the task of defeating the BJP electorally should not be taken lightly, it must also be emphasised that concentrating the efforts only on the electoral arithmetic is not going to help even electorally. Several communist groups such as Akhil Hind Forward Block (Krantikari), Azad Gana Morcha, BAFRB, Bihar Nirman va Asangathit Shramik Union, CBSS, CCI, CPIML, CPIML (RI), CPIML (ND), FIR, Janvadi Lok Manch, Marxist Coordination Committee, MKP, Nagarik Adhikar Raksha Manch, PCC CPIML, PDSF, SNM and other democratic individuals have come together in this Yatra. They bring the message of struggle to the people, to remind the people of their historic roles in anti-colonial struggles, in struggles of land distribution, in struggles for minimum wages and working hours among others to fight the new company-raj.

Amartyajyoti Basu is a political activist

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