The Call of Mahapadav: Dethrone the Modi led BJP Regime!
On 26 – 28 November 2023, the entire country witnessed a spectacular unity of workers and farmers who were marching on the streets in several thousands in various state capitals and staged Worker-Farmer Mahapadav or the Grand Assembly. The massive protest was called by the joint platform of Central Trade Unions and the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM).
The Mahapadav was called in defence of the interest of the workers, farmers and common citizens of the country against the exploitative and anti-people regime of Narendra Modi led BJP. The Mahapadav was staged at a time when workers, farmers, the poor and the citizens of the country were confronting an unprecedented attack on their rights and the livelihood. The country is going through a severe agrarian crisis. Farmers are denied even the bare Minimum Support Price, workers are denied dignified life and wages. India’s rank in the Global Hunger Index is nose diving further as the universal right to food is being denied. The farmers resisted the disastrous farm laws. The four labour codes aimed at blood sucking exploitation of workers have already been passed by the Parliament. Inflation of essential commodities are burgeoning and the prices of essential items including food items are sky rocketing. The country’s resources are being sold out to corporates. The public sector undertakings are under a massive threat of complete extinction. Contractualisation is rampant and the right to regularisation is being refused. Houses of the poor are being bulldozed across the cities and towns. The recent incident of the trapping of 41 workers inside Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi has exposed the horrible conditions under which the workers are being forced to work where neither the employer nor the government bother to ensure the safety and security of workers. In cities like Delhi, factory fires leading to deaths of workers happen quite often while the government refuses to guarantee the occupational safety.
Protest actions were organized in almost every state capital with the participation of thousands and thousands of farmers and labourers, especially women and youth. All leaders of SKM, Central Trade Unions and Federations participated joined the Mahapadav in various state capitals.
According to the reports received, Mahapadav was held in the state capitals including Chandigarh (Punjab), Panchkula (Haryana), Shimla (Himachal Pradesh), Dehradun and Srinagar (Uttarakhand), Civil Lines and Jantar-Mantar (Delhi), Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh), Patna (Bihar), Ranchi (Jharkhand), Kolkata (West Bengal), Guwahati (Assam), Agartala (Tripura), Bhubaneswar (Odisha), Vijayawada (Andhra Pradesh), Chennai (Tamil Nadu), Bengaluru (Karnataka), Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala), Ahmedabad (Gujarat) and Port Blair (A&N Islands).
In Bangalore, the sit-in was held at the Freedom Park. The protest began on 26th with the hoisting of the national flag and the reading of the preamble of Indian Constitution by Smt. Nagalakshmi from the BBMP Pourakarmika Sangha, affiliated to AICCTU. Alongside members of AIARLA, AIPWA and AISA, more than 3,000 workers from AICCTU took part in the rally. This included pourakarmikas, hospital workers, sanitation workers, factory workers among others. PP Appanna, State Secretary and Clifton, State President addressed the gathering on behalf of AICCTU along with the leaders of other organisations.
In Bhubaneswar (Odisha), the Mahapadav was held in front of the state legislative assembly. Every day 3000 workers and peasants participated. A 7-member working committee was formed to manage the Mahapadav. Each day a presidium was formed with speakers from SKM and central trade unions. Under the banner of AICCTU sanitation workers, plumbers, carpenters and contract workers, Railway workers, loading and unloading workers, MDM workers, carriage workers and domestic workers participated. Under the banner of AIKM, peasants from different districts in Odisha participated in the Mahapadav. On behalf of AICCTU, Radhakant Sethi, President of AICCTU Odisha, Mahendra Parida, Secretary of AICCTU Odisha and Prakas Mallick addressed the Mahapadav. On the last day a charter of demands was submitted to the President of India through the Governor of Odisha.
In Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, the Mahapadav was held in the Eco Garden. On the first day, there was a good participation of workers organised under the banner of AICCTU and other affiliated unions, like scheme workers, textile workers, construction workers with a sizeable participation of women workers. Construction workers from Lucknow were very active as volunteers for the smooth conduct of the program for three consecutive days. The state President Vijay Vidrohi spoke on behalf of AICCTU while M. Zaidi and Ramesh Sengar were part of the presidium.
In Ranchi, Jharkhand, the Mahapadav was held in front of the Governor House. It was addressed by General Secretary of All India Kisan Mahasabha, Comrade Raja Ram Singh, former MLA Comrade Rajkumar Yadav, AICCTU leaders like Baijnath Mistry, Suvendu Sen and Vikas Singh, leader of Kisan Mahasabha, Puran Mahato and Scheme Worker Federation leader Geeta Mandal. Three political resolutions including a demand to cancel the agreement to send 90 thousand Indian laborers to Israel were passed in the Mahapadav. On the last day, a demand letter was submitted to the president through the Governor.
In Tamil Nadu, a Grand Asembly was held at Chennai. More than 10,000 workers and farmers attended the Grand assembly every day. Few thousands of workers and farmers stayed at Chennai for both days. Elaborate arrangements were made to accommodate such a massive gathering. On 26th November, the 1st day of the Grand assembly, Comrade Shankar, all India president of AICCTU addressed the gathering which was presided over by Shanmugam M.P, General secretary of LPF. Other speakers included comrade Balakrishnan, state convener of SKM and Comrade Vijoo Krishnan, National general secretary of AIKS. Com. Shankar vehemently condemned the Modi government’s move to allow private company to manufacture “Vande Bharat” coaches utilising all the infastructural facilities of the government owned Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai. He said, the call of the Grand assembly is not only aimed at ensuring rights of workers and farmers, but also to overthrow the Modi led BJP regime at the centre. Com. Chandramohan of AIKM demanded the implementation of agreements arrived at between protesting SKM leadership and the Modi government in the wake of yearlong agitation. He also said, Modi government is working overtime to serve the corporates and it is our duty to ensure the Modi government’s defeat in the coming parliamentary elections. On 27th November- the second day of the assembly, the gathering was addressed by Comrade Eraniappan, state honorary president of AICCTU and Comrade Raja Sankar, state secretary of AIARLA.
The meeting was also addressed by leaders of Bank, Insurance, Central and state government federations apart from unions in IT industry and various other manufacturing companies.
The Grand assembly concluded with a resolve to defeat the Modi government in 2024 elections.
In Patna, a grand rally of farmers and workers marched to the Raj Bhavan in which masses from 12 farmer organizations and 9 worker organizations participated. Onwards to the Mahapadav, marches were organised in different districts of the state. Several street corner meetings and mass campaigns in nook and corners of towns were organised by CPIML. The intense campaign contributed significantly to the mobilisation for the Mahapadav. On 26 November, the Constitution Day, thousands of people associated with AIKM, AIARLA and AICCTU gathered near the Gait Public Library in Patna. Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya, the General Secretary, CPIML addressed the gathering and led a march to join the Mahapadav.
More than ten thousand farmers and workers participated in the Mahapadav on 26 November. AICCTU, AIKM and AIARLA played a leading role in the entire mobilisation. The Mahapadav program in Bihar was an unprecedented success and there was no let-up in participation on three consecutive days. Participation continued to increase till the last day. The programme concluded with a pledge to oust the Modi government in the Lok Sabha elections in 2024.
The Mahapadav was addressed by Comrade Arun Singh, CPI-ML MLA, leaders of Kisan Mahasabha and leaders of AICCTU including Shashi Yadav, Saroj Chaubey, RN Thakur, SK Sharma and Ranvijay, among others.