Saturday, January 28, 2012

Movement in the Punjab by Harsh Thakor

Mass gathering in the conference at Barnala in Punjab from the blog at about 17000 people assembled on 27th January 2012

Amidst the intensified political atmosphere in the Punjab state assembly elections, a “Pagri Sambhal Campaign Committee Punjab” has been organized by different prominent and struggling personalities. The committee will hold a State level “Pagri Sambhal Conference” on January 27th at Grain Market Barnala to strip bare the deceitful game of elections and to proclaim the actual pro-people path of struggle.

In Punjab the mass revolutionary Movement is making history by staging a huge pagadi Sammelan conference in Barnala on February 27th.The purpose of the conference is to create political consciousness to the broad revolutionary masses on the coming parliamentary elections in Punjab on January 30th, be it the students,youth,working class or peasantry. A huge series of meetings have been held by the Lok Morcha Punjab,the Bharatiya Kisan Union-Ekta(Ugrahan),the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union and the Naujavan Bharat Sabha propogating that all the political parties are simply hoodwinking the people and fighting to the last to mobilize the struggling sections to attend the meeting in Barnala.

All these organizations have played a prominent role in the democratic revolutionary movement of Punjab. They do not support candidates or participate in parliamentary elections nor do they call for boycotting parliamentary elections.They believe that the peoples day to day class struggles have to be  built up and political consciousness built up for the masses to assimilate politics of agrarian revolution and to build their own democratic institutions of political power. Today the peasantry is subjected to the burden of merciless exploitation becoming victims of money lenders and are forced into debt resulting in a series of suicides. The landless labourers, mainly dalits are denied their minimum wages or the right to own a plot.The working class is subordinated to unprecedented repression in terms of retrenchments,denial of living wages and improper working or living conditions. The youth are victims of unemployment because of the tentacles of globalization and privatization and similarly the student community hardly has access to proper facilities nor can afford the exorbitant fee hikes.The problem with the working class is that 90% of it’s composition is of migrant labour from other states like Bihar ,Uttar Pradesh etc.All these workers are not the true proletariat as they virtually became destitutes in being unable to earn a living income from their lands and any time would be retrenched and be forced to return to cultivate and defend their lands. This sharply contradicts any thesis that India is a fully developed capitalist society. The chief problem of the peasantry is the non acceptance of the landed section s to accept the landless Dalit class peasntry into the struggles.This is why separate organizations were created for the landed and landless peasantry.A model organization has to be created for the uniting of both the classes especially considering the organization of the Dalit peasantry.

While addressing the press conference, committee members declared that all the opportunist political parties, along with the ruling Akali-BJP combine, Congress and so called third alternative of Manpreet-Left brand Front, are in agreement with those anti-national policies which are responsible for the crises of farm-laborers, farmers, industrial and electricity workers, employees, un-employed, youth, and women in Punjab as well as in country. In Punjab too, people have lived through and experienced the rule of different political parties but to no avail. The toiling people, therefore, in order to get rid of their crises, should organize and march forward on the path of intense, united struggles. They further said that though the government will be changed as a result of the present elections, but, they warn, no one should hope that the policies, serving the interest of feudal lords and national-multinational capitalists; and exploiting and oppressing the people, will ever change through elections. Neither the repressive black laws, framed only to impose these policies on peoples, will be changed; nor the police, the jails and the bureaucrats, who punish people for demanding their rights, are going to change. Through elections, these parties only resolve the issue of political power and the division of the plunder among themselves.

The Lok Morcha ,Punjab a more advanced political body held a meeting for activists on Bhatinda at Teachers Home on January 15th on the revolutionary alternative. Here the people were meticulously explained the need to propagate to the common people to form their alternative forms of political power.Gurdial Singh Bhangal gave a historical preview explaing how since 1947 the peasants and workers were denied their basic rights and how from the 1990’s the globalization has worsened their plight.N.K.Jeet explained the same with economic figures and examples. Finally Amolak Singh theoretically projected what the revolutionary democratic state would resemble. The author was deeply impressed with the readiness and preparation of the activists who attended the meeting.They listened to everything intensely assimilating the politics projected.

Later I attended a  spate of meetings where the revolutionary mass organizations propogated the message of the Pagadi Sammelan committee.The most significant meetings were that staged at Lambai,first by the Punjab Khet Mazdur Union and the Technical Services Union. In the P.M.K.U.meeting the author witnessed the strong preparation of the landless peasants and their readiness to welcome a change from their present plight.Laxman Singh Sewewala ,secretary of the P.K.M.U,explained the peasants how the parliamentary political parties were fooling them with all their promises and contrasted the lifestyles of the politicians who literally grabbed the land of the common people. He spoke about the false promises of chana and ata and the very government t policies that denied the common people these very necessecities.He described the very steps the landless peasants had to adopt to win their right for minimum wages and land. He elaborated that for the acquiring of any right intense class struggle had to be launched. He also refuted the casteist policies of the rulers. It is significant that the P.K.M.U.led a long protracted struggle for the peasantry to acquire plots and for them to have electricity.

What was significant in Lambi area was the way chief minister Badal was challenged and the extent to which he was shaken.His daughter in law had to virtually bow down to the masses trying to appease them. However they all shook their heads in disbelief that their demands would be addressed.

In the meeting of the Technical Services Union 1000 activists attended from all over the state and I was impressed with the preparation of the meetings.The workers displayed great enthusiasm in receiving the revolutionary politics.The speakers described the policies of retrenchment of the industrialists and government and the deployment of the contract system.It was explained how so many crores of money was stolen by the corporate firms of the workers and the need for them to not only organize but give solidarity to other struggling sections of workers and the peasantry.The speakers gave a clear-cut stand demarcating the ruling class politics from the proletarian stand.The intense onslaught of the ruling classes and institutions was explained.

The B.K.U.(Ekta Ugrahan) staged rallies in Nathpur,Malouka and Selbrah on 23rd January,where i was present..The speakers stressed the need for the landed peasants to wage a protracted struggle against usury,cancellation of debts,opposing corporate seizure of landsetc.They also stressed the need on uniting with the landless peasants.They also described the historic struggles in Gobindpura aginst land seizure and how the stealing of several crores from the peasantry was prevented.Janda Singh Jethuke stated that with a contingent of only 500  people several crores stolen was recovered and that a sensational impact would have been made if thousands of peasnts had participated.Significant plays and cultural programmes were staged at Kotha Gura village. Jagseer Seedda  a famous cultural singer performed and his song  reverberated through the hearts of the masses.2 plays were held explaining how the ruling parties made promises to the people but ultimately betrayed them giving agony to the masses who aspired for change.Amolak Singh made a gripping speech which captured the hearts to of the participants.

Flag marches were held in Gaggar,Mithri,Singhewala,Killian Wali,Waring Kera and Mehna.In Nathpura,Ganga,Giddar,Neor,Malooka,Kothaguru,Dyalpura Mirza,Gumti,Bhai Rupa,Burj Gill,Selbrah,Sidhana,Phul and Mehraj both the Bharatiya Kisan Union and the Punjab Khet Mazdur union participated.


Finally the Naujawan Bharat Sabha staged some significant protests and meetings in Bhatinda and Moga. This organization was re-organised last year by the members of the Piunjab Students Union.(Shaheed Randhawa group)They held meetings propagating the anti-feudal anti-imperialist politics of Bhagat Singh and their relevance to the youth. They explained how corrupt the rulers were who denied employment and made the youth victims of the imperialist culture.Propoganda was made against drugs.The Naujavan Bharat Sabha has 3 area committees in Punjab and had to literally start work from scratch.However inspite of small numbers they have made significant impact if you consider the time.Meticuluos work was done to explain the need for the youth to combat the political oppression of the day.A convention was held in August.In October with Punjab Students Union(shaheed Randhwa it led a procession protesting against corruption.On December 30th it lead a rally in Bhatinda propagating that the parliamentary political parties were simply creating illusions amongst the people.On January 23rd in a prominent educational centre of Punjab called Rajendra college  a meeting of about 400 youth took place.The students received it well.Pavel Kussa,secretary of the Naujawan Bhrat Sabha explained ho in today’s situation the youth of Punjab cannot assimilate politics beyond a certain level and the trend of other youth organization sin the revolutionary camp to either impose the political content through slogan sor by mere rhetoric propaganda.

The B.K.U-Ekta Ugrahan propogated in 400 villages of Malwa region of Punjab,with support from the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union.The Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union propogated in 120 villages and in 30 villages where no B.K.U.unit existed.The Naujavan Bharat Sabha carried out campaigns in 40 villages.In some of the areas the Naujavan Bhrat Sabha started from scratch.

 In the conference at Barnala it appeared like a tornado emerging. Revolutionary masses thronged from all parts of Punjab like several streams flowing into a river. The venue was literally lit with red lamps and the venue resembled a huge red flame.Pavel Kussa chaired the speakers platfomr,The 3 main speakers were Gurdial Bhangal,Laxman Singh Sewewala and Jhanda Singh Jethuke.Gurdial Bhangal elaborated the oppressive policies of the government and the impact of globalization which had their roots from 1947.He explained how landlordism still existed and how the working class was still a graet victim of  the government policies.He stated that the contracy system virtually enslaved the workers who were denied a living wage.Laxman Singh Sewewala explained the revolutionary alternative politics in detail and prescribed the model of an actual revolutionary democratic state where land belonged to the tiller,usury was abolished,there was employment for everyone,housing and literacy for everybody and where prices and inflation were regulated to make all essential commodities affordable. etc.,He stressed on the agrarian revolutionary changes and how in the actual democratic form of government the toiling people would own the resources be it the peasantry or the working class.He explained the need for revolutionary class struggle and for the masses to build up their class organizations.Jhanda Singh Jethuke stressed on the problems of building the peasant movement which was afflicted with strong trends of castiesm and communalism.He said it was encouraging that movements like the uprsings in Tunisia and the Arab world took place and that the Indian masses should be inspired by them. He said that atleast 7000 acres of land was illegally held by landlords.He explained how till today landless peasants who were Dalits were not accepted by the landed Jat peasantry and the painstaking work done by the organization to bridge the gap and bring them together.He explained the need of the unity of the landed peasntry with the landless peasantry and felt that the trend to project the movement on caste lines or struggles without analyzing class should be combated.Finally he gave the example of the victory of peasants with just a 7000 string force in defeating the corporate Trident in Gobindpura stating that imagine what results would take place if the forces were larger.2 independent faction sof the KIsan Sangharsh Samiti from Amritsar also participated.

The movement represented by the Lok Morcha and other struggling organizations in Punjab described in this article is  by far the strongest and most correct in the democratic revolutionary camp in terms of  mass line.Intense work has been done in preparing the masses for class struggle and for them to imbibe lessons from their own experience.It is significant that revolutionary forces ranging from C.P.I.(M.L)Liberation to the C.P.I(Maoist) did not participate in the Pagdi Sammelan campaign.The Former is participating in the parliamentary election while the latter is openly calling for “boycott’.Both these trends negate the mass line as the broad masses lack the required level of political consciousness.On the democratic Rights Front the Lok Morcha has led struggles against the arrest of Harbhinder Jalal,secretary of the Punjab Unit of C.P.I.(Maoist) ,which the political organization itself could not take up against repression of the cadre.The protracted effort of Lok Morcha ,Punjab accounted for his release.This trend also today opposes the participation in parliamentary elections.There is a strong trend in Punjab where party policies are imposed and directly imposed on mass organizations like Maoism.The author was impressed with the meticulous preparation of all the struggling bodies in the sphere of class struggle and building political consciousness.In recent years some of the most memorable democratic rallies have taken place in Punjab like the  protest against the murder of Sadhu Singh Takhtupura and Sujit Hamada,the huge protest of all peasant organizations and electricity worjesr in January 2011 all over the state  and in the rally in memory of Gursharan Singh at Kussa.The greatest achievement was however in Gobindpura where uniting with other peasant organizations it defeated the corporate forces from seizing their land.(detailed report in Surkh Rekha publication).The Democratic Front against Operation Green Hunt also took up many conventions against Operation Green Hunt where other revolutionary groups hardly participated. The weakness in the movement is that the intellectuals hardly gave any support. It is significant that Lok Morcha,Punjab did not attach itself to such programmes as it was an organization of superior political content. For this very reason the Lok Morcha does not join the struggling mass organizations on issues of partial demands as such organizations do not have the level of political consciousness of the Morcha and thus it’s politics would be imposed on them. A strong meeting was held against the killing of Kishenji and against the death sentence on Jatin Marandi.The P.M.KU has built units in Bhatinda,Faridkot,Muktsar and has pockets in Ludhiana.The B.K.U.(Ekta)Ugrahan is very strong in the Malwa region and at its full strength resembles a tornado. The Technical services Union has also made remarkable progress and organized broad rallies protesting privatization and mass retrenchments, saving jobs of several workers..It is significant that on Bhagat Singh’s 100thbirthday in 2007 all these organizations participated in a 50,000 strong rally at Barnala ,the biggest ever revolutionary gathering in Punjab.

The mass revolutionary movement in Punjab is a model for correct mass political struggle nationwide.The Barnala rally was the strongest revolutionary mass gathering in the entire country.It resembled a spark turning into a prairie  fire.It could well lay the grounds for the building of a revolutionary movement where people could build their own organs of political power.

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