The Rajasthan Council of Lok Raj Sangathan has been working with several organisations of teachers, peasants, and government employees in Hanumangarh district and surrounding areas. As a result there has been a tremendous advance in building a united opposition to the government’s anti-people policies. The struggle of teachers against privatization of education, that of peasants for remunerative prices for their produce and better irrigation facilities, and the agitation of government employees have all gathered momentum. The enthusiasm of activists in these organisations has been on the upswing. To further consolidate this unity and plan for the next steps, the Rajasthan Council of LRS organised a successful public meeting.
The meeting was organised on May 21, 2017, under the title “On the 160th anniversary of the great 1857 independence struggle and during the centenary year of the great October revolution of 1917 -The challenge of bringing people to power in the capitalist-oriented Indian state”. The meeting took place at the Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Upper Middle School in Hanumangarh town in a constructive and positive atmosphere.
The meeting was chaired by a panel consisting of the President of LRS, S Raghavan, the Vice President of LRS, Hanuman Prasad Sharma, from the Teachers’ Union, Amar Singh Saran, an erstwhile district official, Jaydev Joshi, a workers union leader, Harilal Danka, an active member of the LRS Rajasthan Committee, Dunichand, Secretary of the Haryana Council of the Lok Raj sanganthanl, Dr. Suman Chawla and a member of the LRS Delhi Committee, Nirmala. The meeting was conducted by Ramlubhavan Tinna. The meeting was attended by judges, lawyers, doctors, teachers, journalists, professors, women, youth and farmers.
The meeting was opened by Shri Dunichand who said that the revolution of 1857 was against injustice and so was the October Revolution in Russia. He discussed the formation of the LRS in the wake of the economic crisis and the demolition of the Babri Masjid on Dec 6, 1992. He said that there are 150 monopoly houses in India who exploit the working people led by the Tatas, Birlas and Ambanis. He also emphasised that the people of Rajasthan are brave and well informed and that we must continue to spread the message of the necessity to vest power in the hands of people among the youth.
Bhagwati Prasad, from the Karmachari Sangh said that as more and more people begin to understand, they will also join the struggle. He said that he wanted our country to be free and not a puppet in the hands of a handful of rulers. He said that the citizens of India, including the women, are not safe under this rule and are instead slaves of rulers with money. He pointed out that as prices rise, all workers should be adequately compensated but that is never done. He cited the example of Hanumangarh and said that there had been two mills in the town which were now closed and also questioned how farmers in the region would feed themselves.
Harilal Dhaka said that people need to understand the need for an organization. He called on people to rise to power. He warned that there had been traitors in the working peoples’ movement who had caused a roadblock.
Amar Singh Saran said that the current situation of increasing attacks on livelihood only shows that workers and peasants are scattered and divided and unless they come together, there is no hope.
Hetram Dhaania said that LRS is a political organisation and it has to bring people together including the citizens and elected representatives. He said that capitalists divide people.
Rajender Jadoo, from the Haryana Kisan Neta, said that they had visited a minister with their demands but said that workers do not get their fair wages in this system. He said that workers want their rights while capitalists want bullet trains and airplanes. He said that there is a need to bring more and more youth to such discussion meetings.
Dr. Suman Chawla questioned whether governments are made for common people. She said that peasants of India toil but go to bed hungry and cannot demand the price they need for their crops. She said that people worry about the safety of women in their families and whether they will return home at night unharmed. She said that even a common person has a right to education. She pointed out that there are two Indias – one of expressways and mansions and the other where people do not even have rotis to eat. She pointed out that a mill worth 500 crore rupees was being sold at 40-50 crores by the government.
LRS President, S Raghavan said that the work being done in Rajasthan has impacted all of India. Peasants struggles in Rajasthan have inspired peasants in Tamil Nadu. The struggle of teachers and government employees here has inspired teachers in Delhi and Maharashtra. He clearly stated that the Congress Party adopted the same laws made by the British colonial government to suppress the Ghadar of 1857 and 80% of the Constitution has been taken from the Government of India Act, 1935. Even the Constituent Assembly debates were conducted in English. He said that the Congress party might have been made up of Indians but they were foreigners at heart. They consisted of landed wealthy and Indian business owners. He highlighted that the four years of the Constituent Assembly debates (1946-1950) led to the adoption of a system of government which was colonial at heart. The Constituent Assembly rejected all that was good in the 5000 year history of Indian statecraft. He also pointed out that Communists had not been invited to participate in the Constitution debates.
A view of the meeting in progress
The current UP elections are another example of manipulation by the Indian state. The people of UP were fed up with the state of affairs and had said that they would drive the BJP away and yet the BJP won by what it proclaimed to be a majority. He questioned how that could be possible and said that the people must demand that the EVMs should be tested. He cited a famous book by Amaresh Mishra about the 1857 independence struggle and said that 1 crore people had been killed in the struggle. He said that the youth have a very important role to play and asked people to question the Constitution. He added that the role of political parties is to make the people conscious so that people may rule and not to take power into their own hands in order to rule over the people. He emhasised that the Ghadar of 1857 was a true example of people’s power since people chose their leader and thousands sacrificed their lives for this vision. He said that the martyrs of the Hindustan Ghadar Party and later Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev followed this path and became martyrs to the freedom struggle. India’s future is dependent on making the youth conscious about our glorious history.
The meeting was concluded by Hanuman Prasad, the Vice President, who said that the 1857 revolution was a people’s revolution. No doubt the landed class i.e. the jagirdars played an important part in it. Nana Phadnavis (himself a jagirdar) spread the messages of the revolution. The soldiers in the British Army led the fight in full swing. It was the insurgent Indian people who chose Bahadur Shah Zafar to be their king which was a powerful symbol of the true leadership of the people. He understood that leadership was a significant responsibility. The 1917 October revolution was a shining example of people coming to power. He also spoke about Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev who were true freedom fighters but were falsely accused by the British and said that we must take inspiration from them. He said that we would have to look at our history critically. He said that the current state of affairs is not a loktantra but a punjitantra, i.e., democracy for the propertied. If we do not wake up, it will become a cobra that fills the coffers of the sarmaaydaars, the capitalists. In the current system, parties are promoted so that people do not come to power. In the October revolution, workers and peasants took power in their own hands. He said that yuva are not to be blamed, they are the future and if they are not stifled and instead awoken, they will turn into vayu (wind) and become a force to reckon with. The Indian capitalists have contradictions between themselves and they agree when it is needed as well. The US state is the biggest perpetrator of war crimes against humanity in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, North Korea, Hiroshima and Nagasaki and many more. He called on people to unite and spread the message of people’s power.
The successful conclusion of the meeting is a shot in the arm for all those activists and organisations which have been steadfastly taking up issues facing different sections of people. While the discussions were related to the immediate facing different sections of people, they also provided a vision for the alternative – an India where power resides in the hands of people. LRS considers this an important step in strengthening the political unity of people’s organisations along with the strengthening of its samitis.