People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
August 26, 2007
Bihar Starving Under NDA Rule
THE NDA termed the governance in Bihar under Lalu Prasad Yadav as a (Jungle Raj) but the situation is no better under Nitish Kumar. Kidnapping has turned into a profitable industry. Crime is growing by leaps and bounds. To check criminals, the state government has given sweeping powers to the police. But the police is not utilising the excess powers to curb crime, instead is using it to bargain with criminals and fatten their pockets by taking bribes from them. Killings are a daily affair, everyday some common people, businessmen or political activists face bullets and the killer goes scot-free. Recently a leader of the ruling party was killed in broad daylight and when they went to the police to complain, the police beat them up brutally. The fate of the opposition can be imagined from this. The activists of MCC and other extremist outfits are rampantly growing. They are hand in gloves with criminals and are spreading their free zones everyday. The government remains a helpless spectator.
The attacks by the landlords and their goondas on the democratic movements are very common in different districts. The activists of CPI(M) , Kisan Sabha and Keth Mazdoor Union are facing such attacks everyday. In last few months, six leading cadres were killed. Comrarde Suresh Vidyarthi, district secretary of Jehanabad was murdered by MCC criminals, comrade Ilias Ansari, district committee member, Sitamarhi was killed. Comrade Murli Mondol, a popular kisan Leader of Khagadia was killed by the landlords; another CPI(M) leader and vice president of kisan sabha of Bhagalpur was killed; comrade Kaiful Sah, Kisan sabha and Party leader of west Champaran district was brutally murdered by the ruling class people and a few days back comrade Bramhadev Thakur, a prominent leader of Jamui district was killed. In all these areas, our Party took up the land issue, waged land struggles and organised agricultural laborers since last few years. The landlords let loose their criminals and killed our comrades one after the other. In the past, many of our comrades were killed by RJD backed goondas. But now they have taken shelter behind JD(U). In spite of our repeated demands, not a single criminal was apprehended and Nitish Kumar government has given no compensation to the affected families.
Besides crime, corruption is rampant under the Nitish Kumar’s government. He repeatedly declared war against corruption, but in spite of all such rhetoric, corruption has become a big menace. The government has given all powers to the bureaucrats. The bureaucrats are not only involved in massive corruption, but they also do not pay any heed to the political party leaders. Even the ruling party MLAs revolted against Nitish Kumar, complaining that most of the officials do not respect them, even insult them and do not listen to any problems of the people that they raise. People’s representatives are not given any importance. The law and order situation has worsened and the entire opposition came onto the streets unitedly to oppose the anarchic and chaotic situation in the entire state. There is no sign of governance anywhere. The internal conflict within the NDA has reached a critical stage. In the ruling party meeting, there was so much criticism of Nitish Kumar, that he threatened to resign.
Black marketing is a normal practice in Bihar. The rationing system has almost collapsed. Poor people in villages are not getting kerosene oil. The market price is four to five times higher. Farmers are not getting fertilisers, and are forced to purchase the same from black market for a higher price. Economic life of the common people is completely in distress. Massive unemployment is prevalent everywhere and no work is available in the state. Some recruitment of temporary teachers and anganwadi workers was made. But there were many complaints of corruption regarding the selling of these few jobs. More than one crore agricultural workers in rural Bihar are reeling under starvation. There were massive migrations from Bihar to other states for their livelihood.
Irregularities in Implementing NREGA
The Bihar government had an opportunity to check poverty to some extent by properly implementing the NREGA. The union Rural Development minister, Raghuvansh Prasad Singh who hails from Bihar was liberal enough to include all the districts of Bihar under NREGA. As the poorest state, Bihar deserved it. But the Nitish Kumar government totally failed to utilise this opportunity. Hundreds of crores of rupees have been allocated by the central government to the Bihar government under NREGA. The state government claimed that they have distributed 50 lakh job cards but even 50 percent of them have not been given any work. The use of contractors and machines is totally prohibited under this act, so that poor people can get manual jobs. But in Bihar, rampant use of machines and allotment of jobs to the contractors has become common. The officials are looting a part of the fund in collaboration with the contractors and the poor people are deprived of any work in rural Bihar. A large part of the state is under drought and some parts were recently flooded, but there is no relief for the people. The government could use the NREGA in this area on a massive scale as there is no dearth of money. But because of unprecedented corruption in the administration this could not happen. In the state committee meeting of CPI (M), the members reported that even 50 percent of the eligible poor have not received job cards. Comparing the government’s report on allotments of job cards and creation of man days, it can be said that a job card holder cannot get a job for more than two days, let alone 100 days of work per year as was mandated. The contractors are making false master rolls and looting the money in collaboration with the corrupt officials. There is no monitoring and social auditing of the work under NREGA in the state. There should be a high level enquiry to unearth the truth and check the loot of the public money.
The Bihar assembly discussed the matter last week and found the central government included 23 districts in the first phase and 19 more in second phase – a total of 42, that is all the districts of Bihar could be benefited by this act. But out of 66 lakh poor families, only 35,62,761 families, that is only 50 percent received job cards in 2007 and only 5.97 crore man days have been created as per government report. This means lakhs of kheth majdoor card holders have not got work. And those who got the job, it is not written properly on their cards. The CPI(M) MLA Ramdev Verma gave the estimate that job-card holders got only 15 days work instead of 100 days and they are deprived work due to inefficiency and corruption of government. Due to non-implementation of these schemes, only 6 districts out of 23 in first phase received fund for second phase. Even small states like Jharkhand received more fund than Bihar because of the failure of Bihar government to utilise the fund. A huge amount of Rs 763 croreS is lying with government, but the people are not getting work. Another disturbing feature is that only 17 percent of women got job cards instead of 33 percent, whereas in many other states women got 40-50 percent of jobs. Ramdev Verma also revealed that many workers applied for job long back but were not given job, whereas it is mandatory to provide job within 15 days after application. Ramdev gave example of Uziarpur block under Bibhutipur assembly segment, where 933 persons applied for jobs long back, but none of them got job, so far. He also complained that commission is prohibited in this scheme but all over Bihar, commission is taken from the workers by corrupt officials. The government has not taken any action against such people inspite of complaints. There was a provision for social audit but there is not a single report of such audit and there is no monitoring at all. JD(U) MLA Renu Kumari said that she found agricultural labourers, with job cards, as for example Suren Paswan with job card no five, in Dumauni village of Mehnagar block got 13 days work and was paid Rs 925 by the contractor but on his card it was written he was provided work for 21 days and paid Rs1575 . She submitted 73 such cases in the assembly. This showed how rampantly contractors are used in Bihar and how they are looting public money in collaboration with corrupt officials. The Nitish Kumar government has failed to protect the poor agricultural workers in spite of massive fund given by the central government. The CPI(M) and Agricultural Workers’ Union are fighting against such corruption and have planned an extensive movement in different parts of Bihar.
Malpractices in Distribution of BPL Cards
Another scandalous act of Nitish Kumar government is regarding BPL cards. A large numbers of eligible poor below the poverty line have not received the BPL card, where as many better off people managed to get BPL cards by their proximity to the ruling party or through bribes. The government promised to make corrections in the BPL list, but no action so far has been taken. CPI(M) launched protest movements against the wrong BPL lists but the government suppressed the movement by brutal lathicharges. As the public distribution system and distribution of Indira Awas is based on this wrong BPL list, the actual poor people are not getting any benefit. All these anti people activities of the government is causing serious dissatisfaction and anger among the poor people. A recent statement of the chief minister created panic among the share croppers. Already a large numbers of share croppers have been evicted from their lands and there were many struggles against such eviction. Even the leaders of the anti eviction movements were killed. Instead of protecting the interest of the share croppers, the chief minister announced that all the land allotted to share croppers for more than five years should be vacated immediately. This is to serve the interest of the landlords and religious matts who will be given land evicted by the share croppers. Nitish Kumar announced before the polls that with in three months of coming to power, he would put an end to all crimes, and this has remained only an empty promise. The main target of criminal attacks are the poor. Attacks on the dalits have increased. Atrocities on the women in the name ‘dain’ (witch) are a common practice in many places. Discrimination against the minorities has increased. The BJP policy of discrimination against dalits , women , minorities is faithfully followed by Nitish Kumar government.
The crisis in agriculture also has worsened due to lack of infrastructural facilities. The production and productivity in the state is stagnant. There is no proper marketing of agricultural products. Farmers are not getting remunerative prices. Even Patna High Court asked the state government why they were not purchasing from the farmers with the minimum support price. Sugar cane is one of the main cash crops of the state but now has become a curse on the farmers. 19 sugar cane mills are closed. The farmers sold sugar cane to other sugar mills but they have not paid to the farmers till now. Thousands of small farmers are in great distress and many of them are forced to sell land for their survival.
The middle classes were fed up with non- governance of RJD government and had high hopes in the Nitish Kumar government. The media also created hype about the NDA government in Bihar. But within a short period, the people are getting disillusioned. Though illusion among the middle classes still remains to some extent, the poorer sections are getting dissatisfied with the government. Nobody is gaining except some rich people, landlords, black marketers, big businessmen, bureaucrats and criminals. The opposition bourgeois parties such as Congress, RJD etc., are not building any struggle against the anti people policies of the government, except making statements. Even the JD(U) Party of Nitish Kumar is not gaining much. But the communal forces are trying to reap maximum benefit. More than 200 conventions and meetings were organised by Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Praveen Togadia, spread venom against minorities in those meetings. Everywhere the RSS is making inroads. The BJP is ruling from behind and Nitish Kumar is facilitating the BJP to spread their communal agenda. This is the matter of great concern for secular and democratic forces. The opposition parties are coming together to fight against these polices. But much more is needed to be done to defend the interest of the common people as well as to combat the communal and divisive forces.
The CPI (M) state committee has decided to organise a massive campaign in all districts from August16-30, 2007 and organise picketing before nationalised banks all over the state on August 30, to protest against the anti people policies of the central and state governments.
The Party has also decided to hold conferences from September 1, 2007. The branch, local and district conferences will be completed by December 15 and state conference will be held at Begusarai in the middle of January 2008.