A Manifesto for May Day 2016 : Resist India, Resist!

IT has been two years since Narendra Modi became India's Prime Minister unleashing a trajectory of governance that is proving to be nothing short of a political calamity for our society and polity. Never before has India seen a government so callous and indifferent to the plight of the people. Even as large parts of the country are reeling under severe drought and famine-like conditions, and dozens of farmers continue to be driven daily to suicides under a crushing burden of debt and insecurity, the government nonchalantly congratulates itself for promising to double farm income by 2022. The CM of Maharashtra, the worst drought-affected state, is least concerned about this alarming agrarian distress, he is busy issuing deportation threats to whoever does not chant 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' and his cabinet colleague makes her tour of drought-affected areas memorable by taking selfies on her smartphone! The PM is of course busy touring foreign lands, addressing election rallies, occasionally taking time off to deliver his radio gospels or appreciate his own wax statue in a Madame Tussauds museum.

It is a government which came to power with only 31% of the polled vote, but almost from day one it has been in a state of permanent war with large sections of the citizenry including many who had voted it to power. Its land acquisition ordinance has been rejected by all, but it continues to promote large-scale diversion and acquisition of agricultural land in flagrant violation of the mandates of the 2013 Act for compensation and rehabilitation.

To push its 'Make in India' agenda it is desperately trying to subvert every law and institution of the land - labour rights, environmental safeguards, natural resources, the entire framework of democracy are all being mortgaged to lure foreign investment. Dissenting students in premier educational institutions are being branded 'casteist' and 'anti-national' and subjected to systematic political persecution. RSS cadres have been planted in influential positions across the institutional spectrum and in key Constitutional posts, and President's Rule is being imposed to destabilize elected non-BJP governments while in BJP-ruled states governance has become a metaphor for state-sponsored anarchy, terror and relentless communal polarisation.

Accompanying this war on the people and their constitutional rights and liberties, is the Sangh brigade's sinister invasion of history. Modi came to power with the slogan of 'Congress-mukt Bharat' - in the guise of this slogan he not only spearheaded a campaign to oust the discredited Manmohan Singh dispensation at the Centre and other tainted Congress-led regimes in the states, but also sought to produce a narrative that would trash the Congress teleologically and construct a non-existent past for the BJP. Patel was the first Congress leader to be hijacked in the process, and during his first year in power Modi also tried his level best to appropriate Gandhi through his much hyped 'Swachh Bharat' campaign. With the declassification of Netaji files and the celebration of Ambedkar's 125th birth anniversary, now the Sangh-BJP establishment is out to claim the legacies of Subhas Bose and Ambedkar. Sangh ideologues would like us to believe that Ambedkar's call for 'annihilation of castes' was meant to unify Hindus as a community, the RSS mouthpiece 'Organiser' describing Ambedkar as a 'great unifier'. No wonder Rohith Vemula and his comrades have been dubbed 'anti-national' and activists and intellectuals spreading the ideas of Bhagat Singh and Ambedkar have been attacked virulently by Sanghi goons.

The Sanghi campaign of war on democracy has of course come up against powerful resistance on different levels. Peasants fought hard to reject the land acquisition ordinance. Workers have successfully stalled the proposed labour law reforms. Prompt opposition against the proposal to levy taxes on withdrawals from PF forced the government to drop the idea and now militant workers' protests, especially by women workers from the garments industry in Bengaluru, have pushed the government on the back foot in its bid to restrict withdrawals from PF. The wave of returning of awards by eminent writers, artists, scientists and other intellectuals in the wake of the killings of Govind Pansare, MM Kalburgi and Muhammad Ikhlaq added a new dimension to popular assertion against religious bigotry, communal violence and the culture of political patronage and impunity granted to the goons of the Sangh brigade. And following the institutional murder of Rohith Vemula and the subsequent witch-hunt and police crackdown in JNU, the protests grew into a veritable student-youth upsurge. The mass disenchantment and anger against the Modi raj have resonated in elections and now we also have a strong judicial indictment in the form of the Uttarakhand HC verdict setting aside the promulgation of President's Rule in the state.

The 2016 May Day calls upon the working people of India to strengthen this ongoing battle for democracy with all their might. The working class shall not only thwart the Modi government's bid to curb labour rights and steal workers' hard earned savings and pensions, the spirit of the May Day will inspire the working class to join hands with every other section of the fighting people and build a broad platform of resistance on the common agenda of democracy. At a time when the Sangh brigade is desperately trying to divide and mislead the people and use them as cannon fodder for their fascist campaign and pseudo-nationalist agenda, it is imperative for the working class to assert as the strongest bulwark of people's unity and communal harmony and staunchest champion of people's democracy, of the anti-imperialist anti-corporate interests of the Indian people. Resist India, Resist!

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