As the Parliament Monsoon Session began this year on 17 July 2017, thousants of peasants belonging to hundreds of organisations from all parts of India came to the Jantar Mantar near the Parliament House in New Delhi. The purpose of the rally was to draw Government's attention to the deep agricultural crisis which is leading to widespread economic ruin of peasants. The Kisan Mukti Yatra organised by the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, which started from Mandsaur on 6 July 2017, culminated on 18 July in Jantar Mantar after passing through six states. The peasants from Tamil Nadu also have come back to Jantar Mantar to continue their earlier protest to draw government's attention to the plight of TN peasants who are facing the worst drought in a century. A large number of peasants came from Punjab. Many children of peasants who have committed suicides in Maharashtra were also mobilised to came to Jantar Mantar. They highlighted the desperate condition of their families.
Children from Maharashtra relating their situation
The two demands which have united peasants all over India are, i) that the government should fix the minimum support price of all crops at 50 percent above the cost of production of farmers, as well as, actually procure the produce with prompt payments, and ii) that the government give a loan waiver to all indebted peasants so that they are liberated from the vicious debt cycle. These demands are necessary for preventing large scale ruination of peasants and are perfectly just demands.
Peasants, big and small, are finding it difficult to earn a livelihood from agriculture and are increasingly becoming indebted. They are being humiliated by collection agents of banks, officials from electricity department, etc. and are being threatened that their houses and land will be taken over if they do not clear their dues. This is what has happened, for instance, in Gwalior region, where the electricity dept has slapped notices on people's homes declaring that they will take over their homes if they don't pay up their bills over one lakh.
In the election campaign of BJP in the 2014 general elections, peasants were promised precisely what they are demanding now. BJP Prime Ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, said in a rally in Maharashtra in April 2014, "One thing we have kept in our election manifesto, ... we have included one promise and with great courage. We have said that whatever is cost of inputs for the farmers – cost of fertilizer, cost of irrigation, cost of electricity, cost of pesticide, whatever is the cost of inputs for his cultivation, the Minimum Support Price should be decided by adding 50% profit on top of that. We are going to make a very great decision, brothers, a very great decision ..." After the elections, however, the government has made a complete U-turn. In less than one year of the new government coming to power, it filed an affidavit in Supreme Court that it cannot fulfil its polls promise because "it will distort the market". The Agricultural Ministers is even falsely claiming that Narendra Modi never talked about MSP in his election rallies.
Farmers famlies protesting on 18 July 2017
From its own experience, the peasantry in India are coming to the conclusion that the Indian State and its institutions are working against their interest. After the rally at Jantar Mantar, thay have decided to steadfastly continue the struggle in their districts and states for their demands for remunerative prices and for freedom from debt. Peasant organisations in Maharashtra have just concluded their local kisan mukti yatra in Pune and have vowed to expose the farce of loan waiver scheme that the government had announced earlier. They are planning to block all roads in Maharashtra on eve of Independence day. Likewise peasants in Rajasthan and other states have made plans to escalate their struggle.
It is clear to anyone who wants to see that our hardworking peasantry cannot expect security and prosperity unless the relations of production change in favour of those who toil. The Indian State remains an instrument for robbing the peasants just as it used to be in colonial times. Peasants security and prosperity can only be guaranteed by a new State of workers and peasants in place of the existing state of capitalist exploiters headed by monopolies.