All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), also known as the Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sabha, was a significant peasant movement formed by Swami Sahajanand Saraswati in April 1936 at the Lucknow Session of the Indian National Congress (INC). It is the peasant or farmer’s wing of the Communist Party of India. AIKS was the first all-India peasant organisation.
The Kisan Sabha Movement began in Bihar under the leadership of Sahajanand Saraswati. In 1929, Sahajanand Saraswati founded the Bihar Provincial Kisan Sabha (BPKS) to mobilise peasant grievances against the zamindari attacks on their occupancy rights, thus, sparking the peasant movements in India.
Formation of All India Kisan Sabha
Gradually, the peasant movement intensified and spread throughout India. All these radical developments on the peasant front culminated in the formation of the All India Kisan Sabha. Swami Sahajanand Saraswati established the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) on 11 April 1936 during the Lucknow Session of the Indian National Congress.
Sahajanand Saraswati was elected as the first president of AIKS, and N. G. Ranga as its General Secretary. The other prominent members of this Sabha were Ram Mohan Lohia, Jayaprakash Narayan, Acharya Narendra Dev, and Bankim Mukerji. It also involved prominent leaders like E. M. S. Namboodiripad, Pandit Karyanand Sharma, Indulal Yagnik, Sohan Singh Bhakna, Pandit Yamuna Karjee, Z. A. Ahmed, Pandit Yadunandan (Jadunandan) Sharma, Yogendra Sharma, Rahul Sankrityayan, and P. Sundarayya.
Kisan Manifesto 1936
A Kisan Manifesto was released in August 1936, and a periodical under Indulal Yagnik started. The Kisan Manifesto demanded the abolition of the zamindari system and the cancellation of rural debts.
Objectives of All India Kisan Sabha
- To abolish landlordism and distribute the land free of cost to agricultural and other rural labourers.
- To raise the standard of living of rural masses and develop agriculture and industry.
- To put an end to the exploitation of agricultural and other rural labourers.
Course of AIKS
The All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) and Indian National Congress (INC) held their sessions in Faizpur in 1936. The Congress manifesto (especially the Agrarian policy) for the 1937 provincial elections was strongly influenced by the AIKS agenda. In October 1937, AIKS adopted the red flag as its banner.
Indian National Congress won a significant number of seats in the 1937 elections and formed a government in eight provinces with majorities. However, several INC leaders were mostly zamindars, while the peasants and labourers were from different strata. As a result, the INC largely fell short of the promises made to peasants. Because of this, the peasants lost faith in the INC Government.
Soon, the leaders of AIKS became increasingly distant from Congress and repeatedly came into conflict with Congress governments in United Province and Bihar. In the subsequent years, the Movement was increasingly dominated by Socialists and Communists as it moved away from Congress. By the 1938 Haripura Session of INC under the presidency of Subhas Chandra Bose, the rift between INC and AIKS became evident.
By May 1942, the Communist Party of India (CPI) had taken over All India Kisan Sabha all across India, including Bengal, where its membership grew considerably.
AIKS took on the Communist Party’s line of People’s War and stayed away from the Quit India Movement, which began in August 1942, though this also meant losing its popular base. Many of its Members defied the party orders and joined the Quit India Movement.
Prominent Members like N. G. Ranga, Swami Sahajanand, Indulal Yagnik soon left the organisation, as they found it harder to address the peasants without the watered-down approach of pro-British and pro-war stance.