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India: Massive General Strike Against Privatisation
ON 21 May, over 40 million workers joined in a 24-hour all-India trade union general strike against the BJP governing coalition's privatisation plans.
The workers are determined to prevent the government selling off state run companies by March 2004.
GC Jagadish (New Socialist Alternative, CWI India), reports from Bangalore on India's developing class struggles.
IN THE name of 'liberalisation', the deadly disease of privatisation has attacked the working class throughout India. It has killed and destroyed 250,000 factories and has thrown 25 million workers and their families into a hellish life.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the ruling gang, who claimed that they would take India to the golden days of "Ram rajya" (Hindu god Ram's rule) and make the country prosperous, have increased unemployment to unprecedented levels, driving youth and workers to beggary.
These pseudo patriots who were once chanting the mantra of "Swadeshi"(Indian goods only) have happily sold many factories and services to foreign firms.
They are 'communalising' [using Hindu religious chauvinism] every issue in society to divide the working class, daliths ('untouchables' caste) and the downtrodden.
On the one hand they are whipping up communal passions by campaigning for nostalgic temples to be built, at the same time they are closing and selling off real 'modern temples', the Public Sector Units, which are the lifeline of the millions.
From the events of 1992 when the despicable destruction of Babri mosque took place, to the last year's Gujarat carnage and the recent campaign of the communalists to slander Tippu Sultan (the 18th century Muslim warrior chieftain of Mysore who fought the Imperialist British raj), their agenda has been to divide the unity and weaken the combativity of the working class.
Today, all the wicked designs of the BJP and its henchmen stand exposed. In the 21 state assembly elections held in the last five years, the BJP has lost 19 elections.
No capitalist alternative
THE OTHER party of the big business, Congress, (the main opposition party) is in no way different, fundamentally, from the BJP in its policies. Both Congress and the BJP are the slaves of the capitalist system. In fact, in the Congress-ruled states such as Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh etc, Congress is competing with the BJP on the issues of privatisation and anti-worker policies. The BJP and Congress are in unison to close down giant factories such as New Government Electrical Factory, Mysore Lamps and the Kolar Gold fields.
Although very late in the day, it's welcome that the different trade union federations in the country have started a united fightback. But the general strike is only the beginning. In the coming days and months the fightback must be intensified.
More importantly this struggle should not be a prelude to bring another capitalist party or a group of parties to power. Many political parties of all colours have paid lip service to this general strike but we tasted their bitter policies before.
No party which accepts the profiteering system of capitalism or which makes deals with it can solve the fundamental problems of the working class and the poor peasants. Only the parties that boldly and forthrightly oppose capitalism, can offer any tangible solutions to the crisis that the capitalist system has created the world over.
In The Socialist 31 May 2003: