THE Kisan Mukti March on November 29-30 in Delhi was an impressive mobilisation of farmers from all over the country who are being ground down by the neoliberal policies of the Modi government.
Coming after the big worker-peasant rally of September 5, which sharply highlighted the class demands of the workers, peasants and agricultural workers, the Kisan March organised by a wide range of farmers’ organisations pointed to the growing unity and common purpose of the working people to fight for their basic rights.
The mobilisation of the working people in these two rallies and the numerous struggles and movements taking place around the country stand in stark contrast to the communal mobilisation being undertaken on the Ram temple issue at Ayodhya.
As the Lok Sabha election draws nearer, the RSS-BJP combine have revived the demand for building the Ram temple at the disputed site at Ayodhya. The RSS and the Hindutva outfits are vociferous in demanding an ordinance to facilitate the construction of the Ram temple bypassing the Supreme Court.
Just five days before the Kisan March, a dharam sabha was held in Ayodhya to drum up support for the ordinance demand. Similar meetings were held in Nagpur and Bengaluru. However, the Ayodhya gathering fell far short of the expectations of the organisers. The RSS-sponsored platform of sadhus is to hold a rally on December 9 in Delhi on the eve of parliament to put pressure on the Modi government.
The ratcheting up of the demand for the temple construction has also come in the backdrop of the elections to the five state assemblies. The BJP has faced strong anti-incumbency trends in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Farmers’ distress and unemployment are the two issues which have dominated the people’s attention in these polls. There was visible discontent about corruption and misrule in these BJP-ruled states.
As against this discontent, the BJP had to fall back on its communal rhetoric and efforts to smear the opposition as anti-national. Led by Narendra Modi himself, Amit Shah and Adityanath have been at this game. Even in Telangana, where the BJP is a minor force, Adityanath warned that if the BJP came to power, Asaduddin Owaisi would have to run away from Hyderabad. He further declared, given his name changing spree in Uttar Pradesh, that the name of Hyderabad would be changed to ‘Bhagyanagar’.
The anti-Muslim rhetoric and the Ram temple chorus is not going to help the BJP to stave off the people’s anger against their misrule in the three states, nor, will it help gain any new voters in Telangana.
The elections in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan saw the Congress party conduct a campaign which was a pale echo of the Hindutva platforms in some respects. The attempt to prove that the Congress was genuinely more Hindu than the BJP witnessed a flurry of temple visits by Rahul Gandhi in the three states; the manifesto of the Congress in Madhya Pradesh talked of gaushalas in every panchayat, commercial sale of gau mutra and building a Ram Van Gaman Path Yatra. In Rajasthan, the manifesto promised the setting up of an education board to propagate vedic values. In the campaign, there was a palpable reluctance to speak out against the lynchings of Muslims like the killing of Pehlu Khan.
If the Congress party thinks it can defeat the BJP by such soft Hindutva tactics, it is mistaken. The BJP is going to face electoral reverses in these three states because the people have voted on issues such as jobs, farmers’ distress, lack of basic amenities and corruption.
The struggle against the BJP and the Modi government is progressing because of the continuous mobilisation of the working people on the issues of livelihood, land, relief for farmers, wages and defence of democratic rights. The slogan heard in the Kisan March was ‘Ayodhya nahin, karz maafi chahiye’ (Not Ayodhya, we want debt relief). The peasant mobilisation is going to be followed by the two-day general strike of the working class of the country called by the Central Trade Unions on January 8 and 9, 2019. All these streams of struggle are demanding a secular and democratic alternative, which alone can counter the BJP-RSS gameplan and effectively foil it.
(November 5, 2018)