Long March to Peasant Unity in India

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Long March to Peasant Unity in India

Ranjini Basu

The unprecedented unity among peasant organizations is not a sudden development. It has been built over several struggles, which have expanded the base of the peasant movement and snowballed into the massive protests against the new farm laws.

The talks between farmers’ organizations and the Union government over the controversial pieces of legislation governing agricultural marketing have reached a stalemate. The government is willing to consider a written assurance to continue with the Minimum Support Prices (MSP) mechanism, and amendments relating to the registration of private traders, imposition of cess (tax) on marketing outside APMC mandis (markets), legal recourse for dispute... resolution in civil courts, and greater stringency in issuing licences to private traders. However, farmers’ representatives have unanimously rejected the amendments and also demanded the withdrawal of the Electricity Amendment Bill.

It is obvious that the firm resolve of farmers’ organizations is driving the negotiations. But it would be a mistake to regard this unity as a sudden development. It is the culmination of many streams of joint struggles, in Punjab and elsewhere in the past several years. The realities of a deeply differentiated peasantry notwithstanding, there is unity against the common threat of ceding total control to corporate houses, which are the obvious beneficiaries of the new legislation.

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