- Rajesh Tyagi/ 3.9.2015
Yesterday’s strike, that paralysed the normal life all over the country, has sent shivers down the spine of Indian bourgeoisie, raising concerns among investor and corporate circles worldwide.
While workplaces and roads remained deserted, the protestors shouting slogans against the right-wing policies of the government could be seen everywhere. More than 15 crore workers had participated in the strike. Cities in the southern states of the country were the most hit by strike.
Bihar, Jharkhand, UP, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamilnadu, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal, Karnataka, Kerala, everywhere participation of the workers was huge and spontaneous. Most essential services, the railways, road transport, banking were badly hit by the strike. Coal production was badly hit where majority of the 4 lakh workers went off the work. Coal production could not be put even upto 50% of the normal. Only in few cities, like Bombay, where fascists have stranglehold over the labour unions, participation remained a low key affair.
The bourgeois governments, irrespective of their hues and colour, everywhere took measures to curb and dissuade the strike action, in the garb of maintaining the public services. In Delhi, AAP leader and Transport Minister, Gopal Rai, after ensuring all steps to dilute the impact of strike in the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) under him, claimed that, “the strike was directed against the policies of the centre government and had little impact in Delhi”. AAP was supported by six Stalinist parties in recent Delhi Assembly elections. In West Bengal, the TMC government was most determined and ruthless in suppression of the strike. Police repeatedly used force against the protestors, through lathicharge, teargas and mass arrests. Violent clashes took place between protestors and the police. TMC was assisted to take power by Maoists in the last assembly elections.
The success of the Strike, came on the heels of betrayal by the Trade Unions affiliated to right-wing Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), labour arm of the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party. Strike call was given initially by 12 Trade Union Centers to press for a demand charter containing twelve demands that included opposition to labour reforms and disinvestment of PSUs, increase in bonus ceiling and wider coverage of health insurance and provident fund etc. But BMS withdrew from the strike in the eleventh hour, backstabbing the struggle. After its withdrawal from the strike, BMS leaders had boasted that the public sector undertakings (PSUs) would keep away from the strike, but majority of them participated despite directives of their leaders and warnings by the government. Notwithstanding withdrawal by the BMS, many BMS affiliated labour unions defied the withdrawal call by BMS leaders and participated in the strike.
Even the left unions, leaders and parties did not make any serious attempt or preparations for success of the strike. Rather, they instructed their affiliates in advance to serve due notices upon employers and government, so as to keep the damage to minimal. Despite all signs of mass anger and resentment present for long, these leaders decided to keep the strike to a token of one day.
Forced to give vent to the raging anguish of the working class against the pro-corporate government, these leaders prevented the same from becoming an indefinite general strike.
Justifying their act in keeping the strike token and symbolic, Gurudas Das Gupta, leader of AITUC, and affiliate of Stalinist CPI, said few hours before withdrawal of BMS from the strike, “Other Trade Union Centers would not have agreed to indefinite strike, specially BMS and INTUC”. Within hours of this statement by Das Gupta, BMS withdrew even from one day token strike, while INTUC has no considerable following among the workers at all.
The parties and unions affiliated to Stalinist left front faced a political and moral dilemma. The neo-liberal policies which they proposed to oppose through the strike, had been pursued for long by themselves. These very same policies were implemented by them in the states of West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura where Stalinists had run the governments. Stalinist left-front had also supported successive bourgeois governments at the centre and states who had aggressively pushed forward the same neo-liberal regime.
The nationwide strike has taken place in the backdrop of plummeting stock markets, worsening economic conditions and increasing militarization of the world, that are having direct bearing upon the living standards of the poor. Huge participation in the strike has demonstrated immense disillusionment of the working and toiling masses from regime of the rich and elites.
The first nationwide action of the workers against Modi government has sent clear signal to domestic and foreign investors that the high sounding official promises of making India a safe heaven for investment and business, would have little meaning on the ground.
Corporate media and the press has been specially hostile to the strike. They blacked out the strike on the margins of their screens and pages, while simultaneously calling the morality of the strikes in question.
The strike is sure sign of returning of the working class to the center-stage of national politics from its fringes, where it was kept chained by the false left leaders.
Even after the bold offensive that working class put through this strike against the saffron corporate government, the Stalinist left leaders instead of making this mass enthusiasm a spearhead for revolutionary struggle, have started appealing to the government, to look into the issues that had triggered the strike.
Notwithstanding the very limited perspective of the leaders of trade unions, restricted to numerous partial demands, the huge participation of the working people was accentuated by the rising prices, unemployment, loot and corruption and fast declining living standards, to which capitalism has no answer and offers no hope or resolve. The steam of mass anger was thus directed against the regime of the capitalism as a whole, to which neither the present nor any successive government of capitalists can bring any change.
Workers’ Socialist Party, was the only party in India that had given call to transform the one day token strike into an indefinite general strike and turn it into a platform for launching most determined struggle against the corporate regime. Cadres and supporters of the party had distributed leaflets in few cities in India in support of the strike and the call to make it indefinite general strike. WSP would continue to mobilise the working class towards a general strike leading to revolutionary offensive against the rule of capitalists and for establishment of a worker-peasant government.
Yesterday’s strike is only a trailer for the real show of the future, a tip of the iceberg. The changing mood of the working class would open ever new vistas for class struggle, the struggle that would overthrow the power of elites and expose the pseudo-left that is instrumental in holding back the working class from taking to offensive against its class enemies.