The Kisan Sangharsh Jatha by the All India Kisan Sabha began from the historic Deshabandhu Grounds in Virudhunagar District of Tamilnadu on 2nd November, 2016. The venue is named after Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das who had visited the place in the height of the freedom struggle and has witnessed the beginning of many historic struggles. It was from Virudhunagar that Tyagi Shankarlinganar who carried on a historic fast unto death for 76 days demanding the naming of the State as “Tamizhagam” or the land of Tamils hailed. He died on the 77th day of the fast and his demand was realised when the State was named Tamil Nadu on 14th January, 1969. Virudhunagar was also the birth place of K.Kamaraj, former Chief Minister and leader of the freedom struggle who took part in Non-Cooperation Movement, Vaikkom Satyagraha, Salt Satyagraha and Quit India Movement. He is known for his simple incorruptible lifestyle and for initiating a host of welfare measures like free education, mid-day meal scheme, starting of many reservoirs, ponds and lakes for irrigation etc. The Jatha team visited the birthplace of Kamaraj.
The red flag of the Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangham (affiliated to the All India Kisan Sabha) gave immense confidence to the peasantry of the region in struggles against feudal landlordism and many inspiring struggles took place in Virudhunagar. The Watrap struggle of tenants in 1940s against exorbitant rent and illegal evictions was led by the legendary leaders of the peasantry Com.P.Srinivasa Rao and Com.A.K.Gopalan. They were provided a safe haven by the peasantry who protected them during the ban on the Communist Party in early 1960s. Com.P.Srinivasa Rao who was the founding leader of Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangham led many struggles against untouchability and also a historic Temple Entry Movement in Virudhunagar. The Vivasayigal Sangham was recognised in the region for uncompromising struggles against feudalism, imperialism and the oppressive caste system. It is that legacy which is being carried forward till this day. Over 2000 acres of land that were illegal holdings or benami holdings were freed and redistributed to the landless, a sizeable number of whom were Dalits through consistent struggles under the red flag. With this inspiring legacy the Kisan Sangharsh Jatha sets off from Virudhunagar to expose the anti-peasant Neo-Liberal Economic Policies and the betrayal of the peasantry by the Narendra Modi led BJP Government. It will also send a strong message of unity and resistance against divisive communal and casteist forces.
Flame of Struggles Handed Over to Jatha Team
The Deshbandhu Maidan was brimming to its full capacity, dotted with red flags of Kisan Sabha and the inspiring songs of Safdar Hashmi Cultural Troupe built up a perfect atmosphere for the announcement of united struggles. The drought-hit State also saw welcome showers as the Rally began which soon turned into heavy downpour which for a few moments sent people scurrying for cover. The spirits were not dampened and within no time they returned with plastic covers on their head inspired by few innovative women who led the people back to the venue. Thousands of peasants and agricultural workers who came for the inaugural of Kisan Sangharsh Jatha continued till the very end and gathered around the Jatha team explaining their difficulties and expressing solidarity with the Kisan Sabha struggles.
K.Varadharajan, Vice-President of AIKS inaugurated the Jatha by handing over a torch symbolising the flame of struggles to Jatha leader Vijoo Krishnan, Joint Secretary, AIKS. In his inaugural address spoke about the growing inequalities in the country and increasing hardship of the peasantry and rural poor even as a handful of rich were looting the resources of the country. He also pointed out that the alternating governments of DMK and AIADMK in the State and Congress and BJP at the Centre only pushed the peasantry into further crisis. He expressed hope that the Kisan Sangharsh Jatha will unleash a wave of united struggles across the country.
Jatha leader Vijoo Krishnan hit out at the betrayal of the peasantry, workers and rural poor by the Narendra Modi led BJP government at the Centre and the AIADMK government in the State. He called upon the peasantry to build a rock solid unity against divisive communal and casteist agenda of the BJP-RSS combine. He pointed out that the suicides by farmers had increased manifold after the BJP came to power with the number increasing from 48 to 52 suicides every day. In particular the BJP ruled State of Maharashtra saw over 3228 suicides last year, highest since 1995 and also reportedly saw over 30,000 deaths of children aged 0-5 years due to malnutrition in the last 2 years. He said while Vijay Mallya owing over Rs.9000 crores and Adani owing over Rs.71,000 crores were moving scot-free the peasantry was being hounded and harassed for small loans. AIKS will build a united struggle against the loot of Jal, Jungle and Zameen and fight for land rights of landless, Dalits and Adivasis he said.
This is the first and the longest of the four Jathas that the AIKS is conducting. The Jathas will mobilise the peasantry against the neo-liberal policies responsible for the present acute agrarian crisis and expose the anti-farmer policies of the Narendra Modi led NDA Government which have aggravated the crisis further. It will travel more than 3500 KM across 8 States in the next 22 days before reaching Delhi on 24th November and merging with the sea of people from across the country that will assemble at Ram Lila Maidan for the Kisan Sangharsh Rally and March to Parliament.
Com.Vijay Murugan (District Secretary, Tamilnadu Vivasayigal Sangham) welcomed the gathering. Comrades Thirunavukkarasu (President, AIAWU), K.Balakrishnan (AIKS Vice President and Jatha Member), P.Shanmugham (Secretary, Tamilnadu Vivasayigal Sangham), Lazar (President, Tamilnadu Agricultural Workers Union), Muhammad Ali (AIKC member and leader of Dairy Farmers’ Association) and Ramachandra Raja (President of Tamizhakam Vivasayigal Sangham) addressed the public meeting.