Kolkata: Hum Do, Humara Do. The Narendra Modi government has refreshed the slogan for the birth control campaign of the Indira Gandhi era. Earlier it was meant to promote a small family of four. Now it replaces the couple with prime minister Modi and home minister Amit Shah. Their two children, guess who? (Mukesh) Ambani and (Gautam) Adani. This retort came from Yogendra Yadav, the pollster-turned politician and the Swaraj India president at a well-attended public meeting in Kolkata on Wednesday, organised by the state unit of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC).
Soft-spoken Yadav, one of the televised faces of the leadership of ongoing farmers’ movement against three farm laws at Delhi borders, drew applause from the audience when he alluded to the vintage slogan that later became embarrassing for the iron lady of Indian politics because of her two sons. Many now compare Modi’s authoritarianism to her style.
History is being repeated, Yadav said, with the reintroduction of ‘Company Raj’; the reign of East India Company of the early British era that had a monopolistic control on trade and commerce in colonial India. Today’s company raj will be enforced through the pro-corporate three farm laws that are meant to facilitate monopoly of Ambani and Adani-led groups in contract farming and agro-business, he maintained.
Few other crony capitalists may also gain from the new laws which in the name of market-oriented reforms in agriculture and agro-marketing would effectively end the government protection to farmers and leave them at the mercy of the monopolists. The new laws give them license to hoard and control the supply and prices of food grains and other essential items.
As the BJP-RSS regime is calling the movement a Punjab phenomenon bereft of any impact in the rest of the country, Yadav reminded his Kolkata audience of the similar vein aired by the British administration about Bengali revolutionaries. Interspersing his Hindi address with Bengali sentences, he said: “Today, Punjab farmers are fighting not for them alone but for the entire country. The regime is forcing its so-called gifts of pro-monopoly laws down the throats of the farmers, poor and middle class consumers as well as the opposition parties. The cornerstones of our republic and secular democracy will be saved if the farmers can come out of the government’s ghera bandi (encirclement) which have been imposed on us after Note-Bandi (demonetization) and Desh Bandi (Corona Lockdown) that had brought huge miseries to masses.”
Parallel but peaceful rally on Republic Day
He deplored the government’s efforts to use the Supreme Court, first to end the farmer’s protest, then to outlaw their plan to hold tractor rally in Delhi to observe Kisan Ganatantra March (Kisan Republic Day Parade) on 26 January in parallel to the official Republic day parade. “They are spreading all sorts of canards about peasants’ violence but we will ensure total peace on our part as the national tricolor belongs to We the People of India. Farmers will enter Delhi not to take over it but to win people’s hearts”.
Later at an impromptu press meet, Yadav clarified that the proposed tractor rally (Kisan Republic Day Parade) would be held along outer ring road in Delhi, far away from Rajpath where the official parade takes place, that too after the government-run function is over. Farmers who are about to move into national capital territory on that day would not try to stay put there as the government fears, he added.
Similar rallies will be organised in state capitals across the country, Ashok Dhawale, the president of CPIM peasant wing, All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), said. “Let the Modi regime and SC court stop the farmers if they can. Dhawale, the party’s MLA in Maharashtra was the key man behind the spectacular farmers’ rally from Nasik to Mumbai in 2018. Many middle class Mumbaikars were initially hostile as they worried about disruptions in the city life. However, the miseries and grits of the marchers moved their hearts as some of them came out to welcome the rustics.
Maintaining that farmers across faith-caste-language and regional identities are rising to the occasion, he said a massive march on wheels will begin from Nasik to the state capital as well as from other districts from 23 January. Maharashtra chief minister and Shiv Sena chief, Uddhav Thakre who was an ideological ally of BJP-RSS as well as his current partner NCP chief Sharad Pawar, an all-weather veteran and Congress leader Balasaheb Thorad will attend the rally in Mumbai.
Both Modi and Mamata are enemies for CPIM and allied Lefts
Nevertheless, state politics of pollbound Bengal came to the fore as Dhawale and Amal Halder, the state secretary of CPIM peasant front also trained their guns on chief minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee for failing the farmers in the state. CPIM-led Left Front supporters who had not joined the city sit-in demonstration en masse since it’s beginning on January 9 were found today in some numbers.
“The BJP regime is the number one enemy of the farmers. In Bengal, both the TMC and BJP are our enemies. Mamata paid lip service to the farmers but tried to crush Bharat Bandh called by the Left trade unions that supported farmers’ demands too. Didn’t she join the BJP-led government under A B Vajpayee?” Dhawale said echoing his party’s line in the coming poll.
Both he and Haldar came down heavily on Mamata accusing her of failing to pay centrally declared Minimum Support Price to farmers on paddy procurement, let alone the payment of additional amount offered by CPIM-led Kerala government.
Mamata who is now facing a stiff challenge from her friend-turned foe BJP-RSS has opposed Modi government’s farm laws. She has announced her intent to pass a resolution in the assembly refusing the implementation of the central laws as Congress-ruled states. But she is yet to make the assembly session possible. Neither she has rallied her party against the farm laws, particularly, the changes in essential commodities which she felt would attract more public concerns as the other aspects of new laws are not much relevant in Bengal.
Pradip Singh Thakur, the farmer leader of CPIML (Red Star) that had spearheaded Bhangar peasant movement against Mamata government, welcomed her opposition to central farm laws but asked her to prove her sincerity in taking corrective measures.