Farmers Protest: Politburo

   Posted by: aman   in Other

Day 73

Toll 206

Missing 123 (official, otherwise more)



In spite of all big and small attempts to intimidate, all muscle flexing by state, after the Republic Day, the farmer protests are back with renewed strength. The protests have attracted international attention and revealed the absolute servility of macho right wingers, including celebrities, drawing derision and making a mockery of India internationally. The mid-race baton change between Singhu and Ghazipur was beautifully executed. Not much in news, Tikri has been standing tall pre and post Republic Day. Now Shahjahanpur is rising. Many Mahapanchayats have taken place – Muzaffarnagar, Mathura, Baghpat, Jind and Kasganj – a huge one yesterday at Shamli in spite of administration not giving permission.

When people collect in such large numbers, vow to join the struggle, the leadership needs to recognise that people too have expectations from the leadership. Any leadership’s role is not merely to represent people but to shape movements, develop the people’s political consciousness, take a stand and push with it, not go on backfoot – present models of leadership. For the Panjab side of the the protests – clarifying because the protests are now national – the expectation is for the leadership to be transparent and accountable. On that score, I feel Samyukth Kisan Morcha, which has found its feet over last few days, still has some way to go …

It does not help that SKM explained away the events of Republic Day as sabotage by external agencies (read government). The fact is if youth was feeling neglected, if some groups were feeling unrepresented, the leadership should have connected with them. When Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee was attacked by government sponsored Hindutva goons, youth from SKM’s side of the camp were standing with KMSC, why was SKM asking them to not stand with KMSC? Two days back, was Navreet last prayers – the young farmer, shot by police, death through tractor tumbling. Priyanka Gandhi reached his village, for the last 10 days, no SKM leader except Chaduni, contacted his family. Yes, three leaders went for prayers where over half a lakh people were collected, but what explains SKMs silence? Will SKM now say the Congress is trying to benefit from the movement they created?

These protests would have been nowhere if it were not for solidarity from other states, other castes, classes, and women. What explains SKM’s silence over Nodeep Kaur,, member of Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan (MAS), arrested from Singhu on January 12? Tortured. Why not demand her release?
SKM needs to ask itself what kind of leadership it is willing provide. Is it of the pre-Republic Days when they were shaping the discourse, bringing cheer in ranks through defiance, or is it going to play catch up with its people? I hope SKM realises they are not just some nominated leaders from their unions. They represent the farmers and workers of the nation.

This is about models of leadership. From my understanding, the issue is the Left can’t go beyond the idea of the politburo – the executive committee, supposedly representing the collective will of the people. In theory, the purpose of politburo is to ensure collective responsibility. In practice, in most former communist countries, the politburo stood for a dense, opaque, collective which was slow to budge, take a stance, ignored ground realities, and did not consider the human cost of their policies.

These protests unfolding in India are unique. Not only because they are bringing together such a diversity but also because from Panjab side, the leadership is Left but cadre is Sikh, old rivalries are dissolving. These protests need a model of leadership beyond politburos.

A few days back SKM gave the call for ‘chakka jam’ today between 12 noon and 3 pm. Last night, once Tikait and Rajewal met, they decided, owing to sensitive conditions in the states from Navreet’s death, to exempt Delhi, UP and Uttrakhand from the ‘chakka jam’. This is understandable. No one wants violence. But pray, why did SKM give the bombastic call earlier? When they announced earlier, did they not estimate the anger in the people? To a lesser extent because ‘chakka jam’ is relatively minor, this is the same issue as of Republic Day Tractor Parade: SKM made a series of provocative calls, then changed the route plan but did not explain it.

The protests are seeded, they will go on, many leaders will rise, many people will join. It is now up to SKM to remain relevant. SKM must realise, its cadre is not its bhakts, its worshippers. It must realise its responsibility to lead, to expand the protests, not waver in its announcements and be truly inclusive in its representation.

For now Nodeep, all others arrested. Solidarity!

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