The call for an all-India general and industrial strike (Bharat Bandh) on Wednesday, 8 January 2020 by the central trade unions (CTUs) like the AITUC, AICCTU, CITU, UTUC, TUCC, SEWA, LPF, HMS, etc, supported by a large number of independent working-class organisations and leftwing forces will cripple normal course of life to highlight the core issues that are causing severe distress for the poor, the marginalised and toiling people. The 8 January Bharat Bandh is a call for the working class to rise up and fight against the tyranny of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindutva fascist regime. Under Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) unchallenged rule, the government is enacting one after another anti-worker and anti-people policies. The 8 January Bharat Bandh is an act of defiance by the poor against the government of the rich.
What are the principal demands of the 8 January Bharat Bandh?
The CTUs and other organisations have raised some very crucial demands before the Modi regime that are related to the lives and livelihood of the working class and the common people.
- The Modi regime must stop privatisation and foreign investments in sectors like railways, shipyards, coal, defence, etc.
- The Modi regime must scrap the anti-worker Labour Codes that are going to replace the existing Labour Law and Industrial Dispute Act.
- The process of hiring through outsourcing/contract labour must end, fixed term-employment (FTE) must be scrapped and workers must be provided permanent employment with all benefits.
- Stop the privatisation of the public sector banks and stop providing loan waivers and bailouts to corporate houses through tax sops.
- The pension and provident fund amounts should not be directed to markets to enrich the crony-comprador capitalists and their foreign corporate masters.
- Scrap the policies of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation.
- Stop selling Indian Railways, Indian Oil, BSNL, etc, to foreign corporates and their domestic crony-comprador capitalist lackeys.
- Stop the privatisation of airports and stop the privatisation of public sector insurance companies.
- Create job opportunities, fill empty positions in the government and combat unemployment effectively.
- Withdraw the anti-people National Register of Citizens (NRC), the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, and the National Population Register (NPR).
Apart from these major demands of the 8 January Bharat Bandh, there are many other demands, including the filing of cases under Section 304 of the Indian Penal Code for any death caused due to industrial accidents or during sewage pipe cleaning. The joining of more than 175 farmers’ organisations in the 8 January Bharat Bandh all over the country raising demands for farm loan waiver, social security for farmers, pension for farmers, land rights to tillers, end of corporate intrusion into farming and increasing subsidies on fertilizers and farm equipment has made this strike a unique one. There will be a major rural strike on the occasion of the 8 January Bharat Bandh as well.
According to The Times of India, more than 250 million people will join the 8 January Bharat Bandh to oppose the anti-people policies of the Modi regime. Quite interestingly, the students, who have been fighting against the policies of the Modi regime and have been at the receiving end of state violence, especially in Aligarh Muslim University, Jamia Millia Islamia University and Jawaharlal Nehru University, have also decided to lend their support to the 8 January Bharat Bandh called by the CTUs through their own strikes. The people on the streets of India raising their opposition to the CAA, NRC and NPR, have also extended their support to the 8 January Bharat Bandh, raising the heat for New Delhi.
The strike call has also brought out the fissures within the opposition and exposed the hollowness of anti-fascism professed by people like West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who, shedding all inhibitions, has threatened state violence and dire consequences for the working class if they dare to strike in her state. This vehement opposition of Banerjee to a strike against Modi, whom she publicly calls her enemy, actually showed on whose side her allegiance is when the real struggle has started.
Amidst such betrayal, back-stabbing and vehement opposition from the feral mob of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and BJP cadres, the 8 January Bharat Bandh can’t be doomed by the ruling classes. The working class’s strike action isn’t merely a cosmetic action, this will eventually boil down to a larger anti-fascist struggle in the present context and force the Modi regime to crumble before the people’s might. The strength of millions of workers, peasants, students, youth and other progressive people will shake the Hindutva fascist empire that Modi and his coterie are trying to consolidate by offering India, its land, resources and labour for free to the corporate donors of the BJP. This strike will be a tight slap on the Modi regime and will illuminate the path ahead for the working class.