This is purely my take on the outcomes of the Muzaffarnanagar Mahapanchayat yesterday (5 September 2021)
Deepening of public consciousness and demonstration of people’s strength against draconian regime. Whatever the media tells you, hides from you, there was a Jan Sailab – people’s flood at the rally yesterday (Sunday). Samyukt Kisan Morcha in its press note says 10 lakhs or 1 million people attended the Mahapanchayat. Independent sources place the number higher at 15 to 20 lakhs. Know that there was a jam 20 kilometers from the venue. Many attendees would have not been able to reach the venue. Overall, it was a huge demonstration of people’s discontent with the incumbent government.
Call for unity against all attempts to divide farmers: wo todenge, hum jodenge – they will try to break us, we will stand united. Given the backdrop of Muzaffarnagar 2013 (see earlier posts) there was a clear indication that farmers will not be polarized. The farmers have realised Sangh’s game plan and have resolutely decided to not let the poison affect their lives. Jats and Muslims, Gujjars and Sikhs attended the rally. The double utterance from Baba Tikait’s time came into play: Allah Hu Akbar – Har Har Mahadev. Jo Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal and Wahe Guru Ji Da Khalsa, Wahe Guru ji Di Fateh resounded on stage.
Mission Uttar Pradesh and Uttrakhand launched: daam nahin to vote nahin – no fair price, no vote. The purpose of the Mahapanchayat was to signal to the regime that with state elections less than 5 months away, BJP which has not upheld its promises needs to note that people will not repose their faith in the party again. The specific promise to which BJP was subjected was sugar cane price promised to be made Rs 450 per quintal and release of Rs 12,000 crore to farmers as past payments. The larger issue raised were the demands for the last 9 months: repeal Farm Laws, implement Minimum Support Price.
SKM to take steps to activate resistance to ‘India’s Sale’ in all states – Haryana body with 19 unions formed; similar efforts in Uttar Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and other states on. The Mahapanchayat raised issues of sectors beyond agriculture. They mentioned Labour Codes, Fisheries, sale of Public Sector Units, privatisation of roads, railways, and such. The SKM will start building solidarities to save these national assets.
SKM declares September 27th as Bharat Bandh; solicits cooperation from all trade unions, from across industries, traders and the Opposition. SKM reiterated its demand to penalise Karnal SDM over instructions to ‘break people’s heads’ else stood by its decision to gherao Haryana mini–Secretariat September 7th.
I think the Mahapanchayat was a huge success. The farmers have sent out a message, now it is time for middle class across the country to wake up, join the efforts. 17 Mahapanchayats are planned in Uttar Pradesh in coming weeks. The battle for the country has moved from Panjab and Haryana to the Hindi heartland.
I know we all grew up listening to stories of the freedom struggle, finding our heroes, and now are becoming increasingly disappointed and despondent on how the values are eroded, the country is being broken and sold out. Seeing the proceedings, I felt, why do we not switch our minds? Instead of lamenting, why do we not see this as an opportunity to fight the oppressors, throw the neo-colonialists out? That is what the farmers have been doing for the last not only 9 months but many years.
Time for us ‘spectators’ to jump into the battle. May we find the will and strength to do that for ourselves, for our next generations.
Amandeep Sandhu is the author of Panjab: Journey Through Fault Lines