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Failing to take united stance on elections, Left groups opposed Parliamentary democracy

By Harsh Thakor* 

"Confide in struggles, not in elections" was the call of a recent people’s welfare rally, organised by the Bharatiya Kisan Union Ektam (Ugrahan) at the Barnala grain market recently. Dominated by farmers, the participants include farm-labourers, women, youth, industrial labourers and contractual labourers.
Attendance by around 70,000 people, methodical preparatory work and planning preceded the rally. A landmark event, it appeared to continue the legacy of the 2012 Pagdi Sambhal conference at the same venue, and the 2017 Raj Badlo, Badlo rally at Bathinda.
Regretfully, the presence of Dalit agricultural labour was negligible at the rally, even though it was recognised that the integration of the agricultural labour with the landed peasantry is essential for an agrarian movement. The participation of industrial workers intellectuals was also sparse.
The rally took place amidst Left groups appeared divided on what stance they should take in Punjab polls. Mass organizations adhering to CPI (ML) New Democracy like Kirti Kisan Union and Pendu Mazdor Union, which supported None of the Above (NOTA) option during the Punjab elections, believed that the BKU (Ugrahan) slogan of neither boycott nor participation was confusing. This when the pro-Maoist Lok Sangram Morcha, Krantikari Pendu Mazdoor Union and BKU (Krantikari) held a conference calling for election boycott.
Addressing the rally, general secretary of the organisation Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan said that for real welfare of the people there is a dire need to fulfil the need of land of the poor farmers and labourers by implementing land reforms and by ending the hold of feudal lords and corporates on agriculture.
He insisted on end to the money-laundering system, stop the policies of privatisation of government institutions and public departments and opening up of government treasury for the common people by imposing huge taxes on the feudal lords and the corporates.
State president of the union Joginder Singh Ugrahan said the experience of last 70 years is witness that the Parliamentary democracy has failed to implement pro-people decisions and laws, nor have the ruling class parties done anything in this direction. Instead class parties have been implementing pro-corporate and pro-feudal policies with great eagerness after 1991.
He said, the burden of debt on farmers and farm labourers has increased, inflation and unemployment have mounted, and the country was much more dependent on foreign capital and institution than earlier. Meanwhile, repressive laws were promulgated to snub the voice of the people. He said till our country comes out of pro-imperialist and World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements, there is no possibility to raise the pro-people issues in Parliamentary institutions.
Senior vice-president of the union Jhanda Singh Jethuke said that whatever people gained until now, they have gained it through struggles, not elections. He called for building and strengthening the unity of different classes and to take the path of struggle to establish their dignity and status.
State president of the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union, Lachman Singh Sewewala, presented an alternative model for the welfare of farmers, farm-labourers and toiling people. He said the freedom from ailments of unemployment, inflation, debt, suicides, environmental degradation, casteist and gender discrimination and patriarchy can be achieved by distribution of land among the farmers and farm labourers, arrangement for irrigation and machinery for the development of agriculture, and interest free and long duration debt for agriculture.
Leaders of women-wing of BKU (Ugrahan) discussed distinctive role played by women in the struggle against three black farm laws and many other struggles. They said that women not only participated in great numbers in these struggles, but also played a leading role to organise and expand the fight for abrogating farm laws.
Youth leader Ashwani Guddha spoke about how constitutional democracy was meaningless if no equality existed within the social system. In his view inequality obstructed the masses from benefiting from any genuine right declared in the Constitution. He gave concrete examples of unemployment and how the social order alienated the youth. In his view agri based industries should be formed to provide youth employment.
Student leader Hushiyar Salemgarh narrated how the new education policy was a virtual manifestation of globalization and imperialism and enslaved the student community. In his view the student community should formulate an independent agenda of its own to devise a new system. He spoke about how the current curriculum was anti-people as it culturally enslaved the student community. Such a system bred many evils like unemployment and drugs.
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*Freelance journalist currently in Punjab

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