From the left and right: Protests planned today against govt policies

Trade Union activists during a rally as part of their nationwide strike against centre's policies
Trade unions and farmers' outfits affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Communist Party of India (Marxist) will hold separate protests against the Centre’s economic and agriculture policies today.

The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), the trade union arm of the RSS, said it will hold protests across the country to oppose the Centre’s plan to privatize public sector undertakings (PSUs) and anti-worker “unjust decisions”.

The All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), the farmers’ outfit of the CPI(M), said it will protest the Centre’s recent ordinances relating to the farm sector. It said farmers will burn copies of the ordinances the Centre promulgated on Friday. It said the new laws will pave the way for “corporates to loot peasants and endanger food security of the people”.

In Delhi, BMS general secretary Virjesh Upadhyay will address several protest meetings. These protests will be held at Delhi cantonment to oppose privatisation of ordinance factory boards and outside the office the divisional railway manager at the New Delhi railway station to oppose privatisation in the Indian Railways.

BMS zonal organizing secretary Pawan Kumar said Upadhyay will also address protests organized by employees of MTNL and public sector banks. The BMS slogan for the protest is, “Save public sector, save India”.

The BMS has described advisors who have suggested to the government to sell PSUs as 'predatory'. It has said the government is trying to justify privatisation of PSUs on the pretext of “dire need of money to run government machinery”.

“However, it has no moral right or authority to sell national assets created by its predecessors,” the BMS said. It has asked the government to hold a “social dialogue” with all stakeholders to find other means to address fiscal deficit and revenue generation.

The left affiliated AIKS has opposed the Centre’s ordinances promulgated Friday. These are – the farmers’ produce trade and commerce (promotion and facilitation) and the farmers (empowerment and protection) agreement on price assurance and farm services ordinances.

The ordinances aim to improve intrastate and interstate trade of agriculture produce. The Centre said there is a need to facilitate farmers to sell agriculture produce at a place of their choice at a better price by increasing the number of prospective buyers.

However, the AIKS and several other organisations contend these ordinances will lead to corporatisation of agriculture and hurt the interests of farmers. They have argued the ordinances will end up dismantling the protective mechanism that farmers currently have, including minimum support price (MSP), against exploitation. These organisations fear these ordinances will legalise exploitative practices in backward areas.

The AIKS said the ordinances have been brought hastily without any consultations with either farmers’ organizations or the state governments or any discussion in Parliament.

The AIKS also plans to “build broadest unity” of farmers’ outfits “to resist this onslaught on peasant agriculture”.

The Punjab government has also opposed the ordinances. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has said his government will oppose the ordinances “tooth and nail”.

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