Coinciding with the completion of six months of farmers’ protest, a joint forum of the central trade unions, affiliated to the Opposition, has given a joint call to observe May 26 as ‘Black Day for Indian Democracy’, saying it is “time to call a spade a spade”.
The unions — INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, LPF and UTUC — are demanding free vaccine for all, strengthening the government-run public health system at all levels and immediate help to all unorganised/informal sector workers and unemployed people in terms of free food grains and cash subsidy of Rs 7,500 per month among others.
“It is time to call a spade a spade. We begin by observing 26 May as the Black Day for Indian Democracy, wearing black badges, putting up black flags. We resolve on this day, not to rest till we achieve our demands, not to rest till a message is driven home that the toiling people will not remain passive bystanders, watching the Modi Government do as they please,” a joint statement said.
The unions’ action also coincides with the similar call given by Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM).
“May 26 is the day the Narendra Modi Government took the oath of office in 2014 and then again on 30 May in 2019. The 26 May is the day when the Chalo Dilli Kisan Andolan completes six months,” the statement said.
The day also marks six months from the All India Strike called by these unions on their continued demands for cash transfer to poor families, universally free rations to all needy, expansion of MGNREGA, and new employment scheme for urban areas, non-privatisation of PSUs and government departments, for scraping NPS and restoration of earlier pension scheme.
Explaining the rationale of the Black Day protest, the unions said the Modi government that has been in office continuously for the past seven years has “not only failed to deliver on the tall promises made while assuming office but is actually acting against the wishes of the toiling people with impunity”.
“It is acting in a blatantly irresponsible manner in the face of the terrible second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, all on the basis of a brute majority in the Lok Sabha,” it added.
The unions alleged that the Centre has “simply disowned” its responsibility in tackling the pandemic and asked the states to provide the medical help to the “bewildered population”.
“Shortages of vaccine doses, oxygen, hospital beds, even cremation facilities are alarming… (It) shows that the government is completely in the dark about what needs to be done in this hour of grave crisis. There is criminal negligence on the part of the government towards front-line fighters of this dreaded virus,” it said.