THE economic policies, including the agricultural policy, which the Congress led UPA-2 government at the centre is pursuing, is dictated by US imperialism to serve the interest of the corporate world, injuring the interest of the country’s peasantry and other sections of the toiling masses. Our plight would know no bound if this dangerous subservient pro-imperialist polices of the central government are not contained through a united mass movement throughout the country. So warned S R Pillai, President of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), at a huge kisan rally at Agartala on April 24.
The rally marked the culmination the year long programme of the All India Kisan Sabha’s Tripura state council for observance of 75th anniversary of its foundation in 1936. The rally was presided over by Niranjan Debbarma, general secretary of the Tripura Rajya Upajati Ganamukti Parishad (GMP). State kisan council secretary Narayan Kar also addressed the rally where the CPI(M)’s Central Committee member and its state secretary Bijan Dhar, Central Committee member and women’s leader Rama Das and Ganamukti Parishad president Narayan Rupini were present on the dais.
NEED OF MIGHTY STRUGGLES
Elaborating the background of the foundation of Kisan Sabha, which is the biggest as well as the oldest peasant organisation in the country, Pillai said since its establishment on April 11, 1936 at Lucknow, the organisation has had a glorious tradition of historic and heroic kisan movements. These include the Tebhaga movement in undivided Bengal, Punnapra Vayalar struggle in Kerala, Worli tribal revolt in Maharashtra, the glorious Telangana armed struggle in Andhra Pradesh and the anti-monarchy struggle in Tripura. At the same time, the organisation carries the tradition of battle for the country’s freedom. Innumerable comrades fell victims during these kisan movements, many sacrificed their lives, many suffered long imprisonments and barbaric repression in British jails, and many others had to go underground for years together. It is after traversing such hard days that the All India Kisan Sabha now stands as the biggest kisan organisation of the country with 2.2 crore members this year, Pillai informed.
Pillai also lashed out at the post-independence Congress rulers who betrayed the “land to the tiller” demand of the peasantry. He said even in independent India the Kisan Sabha had had to carry forward the movement for proper implementation of land reforms, remunerative prices, loan waivers, subsidies on agro-inputs etc, against the onslaughts of the landlords and big landowners, and to get rid of the yoke of private moneylenders.
Frustrating the aspirations of the peasantry, Pillai said, the Congress government at the centre adopted LPG policies in 1991, which made agriculture a non-profit sector. With the prices of agro-inputs spiralling upwards, and the scope of bank credits increasingly shrinking, kisans were compelled to knock at the door of private moneylenders. The devastating consequence of this policy, Pillai informed, is that according to the central government’s own sources, about 50 per cent farmers of the country are indebted at present. The proportion of landless farmers in the population has increased from 22 per cent in the 1990s to 36 per cent at present. About 2 lakh peasants perished themselves, finding no way to get rid of their indebtedness. In 1992 the share of the agriculture sector in GDP was 32 per cent; now it has come down to 15.7 per cent while the sector involves almost an equal labour force because of non-expansion of the industrial sector.
Referring to the Wikileaks and Radia tapes, Pillai said, these are glaring instances of how US imperialism is interfering in the internal affairs of our country, manipulating even the posting of persons of their choice in the central cabinet. This is really a matter of serious concern as it is detrimental to our independence, sovereignty and democracy, Pillai asserted.
AIKS state secretary Narayan Kar explained the 10-point charter of demands and said 60 per cent people of the state’s workforce is engaged in agriculture. Many of them belong to the below poverty line (BPL) category. They extremely deserve incentives from the government to make their farming a “no-profit no-loss” venture. It is at this stage, however, that the central government drastically reduced fertiliser, food and other subsidies meant for the people. This is a direct attack on the peasantry.
President of the rally, Niranjan Debbarma, severely criticised the prime minister who had assured of bringing down prices of essential commodities within 100 days of assuming power and enact a food security act for the poor. But after two years, the price index has touched an all-time high and the huge stockpile of food grains are being to rotten, defying the apex court’s order to distribute them among the hungry people. He urged the kisans to build up united struggle to reverse the anti-people policies of the UPA-2 government.
A set of programmes have been implemented throughout the year in various stages in order to observe the 75th anniversary of the foundation of AIKS.
1) In July-August 2010, a workshop with the leading workers of the kisan movement in each DKC area was held. The topics discussed in these workshop were history of the kisan movement, the tasks of the kisan movement in Tripura in the present situation, and organisation.
2) In September 2010, panchayat level kisan rallies were organised to highlight the state level charter of demands as well as local issues.
3) In November 2010, block level rallies were conducted on the same charter of demands.
4) In December 2010 and January 2011, block level vegetables exhibitions, cultural functions, rural sports and blood donation camps were organised by the local units of the Kisan Sabha.
5) It was as the culmination of this year-long programme that a central kisan rally was organised at Agartala on April 24, attended among others by AIKS president S R Pillai.
CHARTER OF DEMANDS
1) No withdrawal of subsidies on food, fuel and fertilisers; state control on the trade of these goods must continue. Buffer stocks of these items in the state must be raised.
2) A universal public distribution system (PDS) must be introduced. All the poor families must be served 35 kg of rice or wheat per family at Rs 2 per kg; BPL cards must be issued to all of them, and 14 essential goods must be sold through the PDS at subsidised rates.
3) All nationalised banks must open their branches in rural areas of the state. They must attach priority to the agriculture sector for distribution of loans at 4 per cent per annum.
4) The central government must formulate a package programme and implement it for proper rehabilitation of the tribal families and allotment of land to them under the Forest Rights Act. An amendment to this act must be made for protection of the rights of the non-tribals who are traditional dwellers of forest areas.
5) At least 150 days of work at Rs 200 as wage per day must be provided under the NREGA.
6) The Land Acquisition Act 1894 must be amended and the landless and homeless families must be allotted the khas land which they are at present in possession of.
7) The proposed Seed Bill, which rejects the birth right of the Indian kisans over their indigenous seeds, must be withdrawn.
8) Free trade agreements with other countries, which seriously affect the rubber, tea, fruit and milk producers, must be scrapped.
9) Railway line up to Agartala must be upgraded to broad gauge and extended up to Subroom.
10) The central government must compensate the state due to the deprivation caused to it by the 13th Finance Commission’s award. The central government must not impose conditionality of banning recruitments in the state.
The rally was told that the total membership of Kisan Sabha in the state stood at 3,18,378 for the year 2010-11.