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Modi withdrew farm laws, but has no word on 'pro-corporate, oppressive' policies

Farmers celebrate withdrawal of three laws
By Harsh Thakor 
Punjab farmers have no doubt won a historic battle in overpowering the farm laws with the support of the working class, students, youth and intellectuals. Noticeably, the non-sectarian approach of the participating organisations, which confronted Hindutva neo-fascism, Sikh separatist politics and Indian and foreign corporate monopoly, helped in enhancing their striking capacity.
The Bharatiya Kisan Union BKU (Ugrahan) particularly played a pivotal role in intensifying the struggle at the Tikri border. It worked in coordination with the Kirti Kisan Union, the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Dakaunda), the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union, the Pendu Mazdoor Union, the Punjab Students Union (Shaheed Randhawa), the Punjab Students Union (New Democracy Group) and the Naujwan Bharat Sabha.
The farmers’ agitation stood in sharp contrast to the assessment of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) that the their agitations would not prolong beyond November 2020. PMO thought the agitation would retreat when the paddy harvest begins. The mass organisations, however, ensured that the movement would proceed on a secular road and no political party would be allowed to utilise their platforms. The secular thrust of the movement propelled the victory. Even during the peak of the paddy harvest, the movement was not withdrawn.
However, the struggle is far from over. The ruling BJP continues to patronise the corporates. Prime Minister Narendra Modi withdrew the agricultural laws keeping an eye on the upcoming elections in Uttar Pradesh. The roots of socio-economic oppression and pro-corporate economic policies remain part and parcel of the government’s policies.
The demands to legalise the minimum support price (MSP) and scrap the draft electricity amendment Bill haven’t been met. MSP is directly linked with the public distribution system (PDS). Poor and marginal farmers do not have access to institutional credit. They are dependent on private money lenders. Only a definite economic programme, including land reforms, would address these issues.
The Prime Minister had tried to make out that it was a movement only of rich farmers. However, the fact is, only a small layer of rich farmers have been involved in the protests. Recently, a Punjab University academic did a survey and found that all the farmers who died during the protests had a land holding of up to three acres. None of the group of 750 martyrs constituted a rich farmer.
No doubt, the unity of the farmers continued against all odds. Yet, an important factor that been ignored is that of caste. The rural Dalit labour community remains marginalised. There is a lurking gap between the demands of the landed at Jat farmers and the Dalit agricultural labourers. There is little integration of the upper caste landed farmers with the Dalit agricultural workers.
Reacting to Modi's announcement regarding the repeal of agricultural laws in the coming session of the parliament, the BKU (Ugrahan) termed it a victory of the “determined peasant struggle”, but stressed upon the need to remain vigilant.
In a statement issued to media, Joginder Singh Ugrahan and Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan, president and general secretary, respectively, said that the Modi government had to bow before the historic and unprecedented peasant struggle, but still it has not affected any change in its policies designed for the infiltration of the corporates in the agrarian sector.
A survey said, all the farmers who died during protests had land holding of up to 3 acres. None of the 750 martyrs constituted a rich farmer
It is yet to be watched whether the Modi government tries to deviously feed the corporate interests, they said. Besides these laws, the issues of MSP, PDS and electricity Bill are pending even now. Whereas Modi has only talked about MSP, the demand of the farmers is to have all the crops procured at the MSP by the government as a legal right.
They emphasised that PDS and the procurement of the crops at MSP are not independent of each other, instead these are interlinked. PDS is a major issue for the poor working class consumers. In this context, MSP and PDS constitute a single set of demands which can guarantee the interests, both of the farmers and the consumers.
Besides these demands, they emphasised on punishment to the culprits of Lakhimpur Kheri killings, action against officials and political leaders of Haryana responsible for oppressing farmers, and withdrawal of cases registered against them during this movement. These demands still remain unresolved. Modi’s announcement does not even touch upon these.
The Gurpurab of Guru Nanak Dev was observed at the Tikri Border and dozens of struggle sites in Punjab. The news of the bowing down of the Modi government on that day brightened the celebrations of Gurpurab. The speakers on different morcha sites spoke highly of the voice raised by Baba Nanak against social evils and state's oppression. They called upon people to clearly identify today's “Babars and Malik Bhagos”, i.e. ruler-corporates alliance.

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