by BA and Venkatesh Sundaram
For the first time in the history of post-1947 India, the Republic Day Official celebrations were also accompanied by mass protests in the form of people’s rallies across the length and breadth of the country. The primary impetus came from the tractor rallies by protesting farmers that came into Delhi as a part of their ongoing protests against the passage of the three Farm Laws. These protests have been gathering momentum and all attempts by the Government to quell them have failed so far. The Government refused to negotiate in good faith, and attached conditions to the talks, many rounds of which have failed. It came up with a plan to suspend them for 18 months which has also been rejected. The Supreme Court has appointed a 4 member committee to try to bring the parties to the table, but this attempt seems to have no buyers either.
The events of January 26th themselves have been well documented, there has been much publicity given to some persons climbing up to the Red Fort and planting a flag along with the Indian National Tricolour. Whereas there can be many debates about whether this was right or wrong, or whether it was a provocation, or whether it was the work of `anti-nationals’, or whether it was proper for the rallies to have been conducted on that particular day, knowing very well that the atmosphere would be charged, there are many conclusions that can be derived from the events of that day.
The leading message from the events of January 26th is that the Government will spare no effort to portray those opposed to these laws and to its policies as anti-nationals and enemies of the state. It will also use any excuse to try and discredit the genuine demands of the farmers, as well as those who have been adversely affected by all the anti-people, anti-working class policies of the Government taken over the last six and a half years. It will use all kinds of propaganda and vitiate the environment to implement such policies and also proceed with its chosen agenda of privatisation and liberalisation and creating conditions for ease of business. All the activities of the Government are aimed at maximising profits for the richest of the rich and the largest industrial conglomerates. These activities are hand in glove with big finance capital from the western countries, and tenuous peace exists between parties constituting this sector.
On the ground, the Government deploys massive security forces and imposes all kinds of rules and laws, going so far as to block entry points to the capital city, causing mayhem and chaos to the residents of the cities by having acres and acres of police barricades, deploying thousands of police and other security forces in full riot-gear. Internet services have been suspended for an indefinite period in many areas in and around Delhi, causing severe hardships to tens of thousands of people. All the activities of the Government, especially since the Delhi Police is directly controlled by the Union Home Minister and his Ministry, are there for everyone to see. The media and propaganda machinery of the government and the super-rich have spared no effort to paint the protesting farmers in the vilest of colours, while totally ignoring the magnificent orderly tractor rallies organised by the farmers.
On the other hand, the resolve and determination of the protesting farmers and others from all sections of society, workers, blue and white collar, is to be highly praised and commended. Despite attacks and beatings they have not retreated and not surrendered. This latter is the second message of the ongoing agitation.
In view of the above, all men and women of conscience must condemn the anti-people policies and activities of the Government. They must call on the Government to give up its hostility and come to the negotiating table with no strings attached. The Government must stop being arrogant and learn that it is there to serve the people and not the other way round. Let us all unite behind this uncompromising principle and take this struggle forward. Let this be the message that we have all received from the events of January 26th, 2021.