The unprecedented protests at the borders of New Delhi, highlight the bravery, courage and peaceful challenge to the brutal repression of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP)
By Harsev Bains
Over 200 farmers’ have lost their lives victims to the unsympathetic attitude of a Government becoming increasingly disconnected from its people.
The three laws are related to (1) agricultural marketing, (2) contract farming and (3) stocking of food commodities.
Throughout the process, neither the farmers nor the state governments were consulted, but instead only those agribusiness corporates like Adani and Ambani since it is only their interests the government is promoting.
The farm laws and the manner in which the BJP has pushed them through, have wide implications which impact on issues such as democratic rights, encroachment on rights of states, the issue of food security, the surrender of responsibility of governments to control prices and, of course, setting up the legal architecture to advance corporate control of agriculture.
The struggle of the farmers has highlighted the efforts by the Indian ruling classes to acquire corporate control over agriculture for its own profit maximisation. A new class conflict has arisen between the big corporates with their international finance and the entire peasantry.
The BJP is striving to establish its complete political hegemony by destroying the federal structure of India’s Constitution and in its place, erecting a unitary state structure, creating conflicts between the central government and elected state governments.
With the global economy in a state of recession, the neo-liberal reform has exposed itself as being totally bankrupt in offering any solution to overcome this crisis and the scrambling for profit maximisation under capitalism intensifies. The BJP government is aggressively pursuing the neo-liberal reform to provide greater opportunities for profit by the corporates. This requires the takeover of newer areas of economic activity.
The rise of right-wing nationalism has tested the fragility of Indian democracy. The full force and authoritarian tactics of the Indian government have been showcased in their response to the largest protest in its history.
India’s ranking in the Press Freedom Index is now down to 142 out of 180 countries. Barricades and border walls erected with barbed wire and pointed spikes fixed to the national highways. The use of water cannons, tear gas and deployment of security forces have all been utilised to intimidate peaceful protesters. Since November 26th the day of the National General Strike farm protestors from the north Indian state of Punjab have been joined by workers, women and youth from all parts of India.
Two months later on 26th January, India’s Republic Day, normally free from protests, saw an unprecedented show of anger against the farm laws, with one of the largest global demonstrations ever assembled.
A splinter group organised a counter march earlier in the day to the Red Fort in Delhi which resulted in the loss of life. Their disruptive action was condemned by all the 500 farmers organisations. Despite this instant condemnation, the Government machinery and RSS went on a violent rampage against the non -violent protestors. When these images created a storm on the web, the internet was shut down. PM Modi has used the action by this splinter group to defame the farmers calling them “parasites”, questioning their patriotism and integrity.
Solidarity marches and rallies were held around the world including in London where Members of Parliament have taken to tweeting their support for the farmers, with Claudia Webbe, MP for Leicester East being most prominent from Britain. Rihanna’s, Greta Thunberg’s tweets have drawn particular ire from the BJP government and pro BJP Bollywood and sports stars. Disha Ravi a 21-year-old activist from Bengaluru has been charged by Delhi Police for criminal conspiracy, on the absurd grounds that she forwarded a “tool kit” in support of the farmer’s struggle.
The All-India Farmers Union has called for all the farmers of India to organise further protests and prepare for more determined and fierce struggles across the country to ensure the repeal of the unjust farm laws.
This was published in Liberation journal on Saturday February 27