People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 15

April 19, 2009



CPI(M) Contesting To Restore Moreina Its Real Identity

MOREINA district of Madhya Pradesh lacks an identity of its own, even after 62 years of independence. Elections took place and political parties doled out assurances on a regular basis. Leaders entered the portals of the parliament with popular votes received in the name of religion or caste. Parliamentarians were also purchased on occasions and they thus continued to fill up their coffers. But Moreina continued to be neglected; Moreina continued to be defamed.

The district acquired a dubious identity all over the country --- as the haven of the dacoits and criminals. While politicians were involved in their political bickerings, it was the common citizens who suffered this specific identity of the district. They were looked upon with contempt all over the country. While the district remained deprived of development, the local youth seeking employment were flatly denied jobs in other parts of the country. If at all they got a job, it was only by hiding their identity.

This identity of Moreina is not something god-given; it is a creation of the unscrupulous politicians. Moreina is the birthplace of martyr Ram Prasad Bismil whose poem “Sarfaroshi ki Tamanna” has been on the lips of millions of youth. In village Milawali of the same Moreina district, there still stands a 13th century temple, which is now in the custody of the Archaeology Department. The Parliament House of Delhi was constructed on the design of this very temple. Moreina has been the birthplace of a number of unparalleled building artistes.

Moreina Lok Sabha constituency also covers the Sheopur district which was, not very long ago, a part of the Moreina district. Sheopur is the birthplace of great democratic poet Gajanan Madhav Muktibodh, who has a pride of place and holds a distinct identity not only in Hindi but in the entire Indian literature.

Moreina is the land of rave fighters and not of dacoits. From Moreina to Porsa, possibly there is not a single village without statues of soldiers who courted martyrdom while fighting for the country --- since before independence to this day. When infiltrators occupied the hills of Kargil due to the criminal negligence of the then NDA government, in which L K Advani was the deputy prime minister and home minister, it was the brides of this area who had to get widowed so that this deadly mistake could be rectified.

The CPI(M) is contesting the Moreina Lok Sabha seat for the first time. Apart from the issues the CPI(M) and the Left would highlight in these polls at the national level, one additional issue is to tell the people how the district could overcome its present notoriety and get its real identity.

The constituency covers the Moreina and Sheopur districts. In Moreina district, dalits constitute 21.1 percent of the population while tribals account for 0.8 percent. In Sheopur, their respective proportions are 16.2 and 21.3 percent. The priorities of the CPI(M)’s election campaign fully take into account the problems facing these oppressed and exploited sections. Feudal oppression far outranges the population of the dalit and tribal mass in these districts.

The CPI(M) has put up its senior leader, Jugal Kishore Pippal, as its candidate in Moreina. After resigning from his job as an auditor in the state government, Pippal became a full-time worker of the party twenty years ago. At present, he is a member of the CPI(M) district secretariat and Kisan Sabha district secretary. He has led several struggles on the problems facing the peasants in the area. He has been subjected to repression and was put behind bars several times.

This seat was reserved for the scheduled castes before the delimitation. But now that it is a general seat, the Congress, the BJP and the BSP have put up upper caste candidates here, ignoring the dalit sections. Only the CPI(M) has put up a candidate belonging to the SC group here.

In this constituency with strong feudal influences, a motivated propaganda against the CPI(M) is that it has deliberately put up a dalit candidate even though dalits have several times represented this area in the past. But these people forget that the graph of dalits’ oppression is very high in this area. Uprooting the dalits or destroying their harvests is very common in this area; more than half the dalit population has been forced to sell out whatever meagre properties they had and settled in cities. A dalit groom is mercilessly beaten up if he dares ride a horse. The plight of dalit women is simply indescribable. Corruption is rampant in the government schemes meant for dalits; their children face abominable discrimination in schools; there are separate water arrangements for dalits even in government offices.

In the past, elected dalit representatives were made to work for strengthening the bourgeois-landlord system. After getting elected, each of these ‘people’s representatives’ only tried to prove to the feudal lords that he is their true servant. They even touched the feet of the feudal lords and never dared to sit on a cot in their presence. But Jugal Kishore Pippal always raised his voice against the inhuman treatment being meted out to the dalit and tribal sections, and that is why the CPI(M)’s decision to contest this seat has incensed everyone including the BSP.

The BSP has much influence among the dalit people of this area, particularly those of the Jatav caste, and won two seats in the recent state assembly polls. But none of these is a dalit. One of these BSP MLAs indeed attended a meeting of the Brahmin Sabha, proudly declared that he was first of all a brahmin, and thanked the Brahmins’ unity for sending so many brahmins to the state assembly. Yet the fact is that the brahmin MLAs belonged not to the BSP alone but to other parties as well. It needs to be noted that it was immediately after this brahmin’s victory that the defeated BJP candidate launched brutal attacks against dalits but this MLA kept his mum. One morning, not only a feudal landlord drove away a dalit from his field when he had gone there for defecation but even forced him to collect his shit in his lota and throw it far away from his field. Neither the BSP nor its MLA protested this inhuman act.

Today the BSP has put up a brahmin candidate for this Lok Sabha seat, while the state BSP president has in the past accused him of several cases of dalit oppression. He was also accused of involvement in the murder of a popular BSP leader P P Chaudhari. The reason was that the latter’s son had married a girl of this brahmin family. Now this brahmin’s candidature has generated a lot of anger among dalits against the BSP.

Though this Chambal valley area has been notorious for its dacoits, now the government is itself in a dacoit’s role. The government recently sold valuable 10,000 hectares of riverside land to some capitalists for a measly 500 rupees per hectare. This poses the threat of eviction of a number of small and middle peasant who are cultivating a big part of this land. The BJP government of Madhya Pradesh has contracted a World Bank loan of Rs 1,919 crore and, in return, privatised five rivers including the Chambal. It is also planning to evacuate the riverside villages and other habitations, and hand the irrigated land over to some of the multinationals. That is why now the peasants are not being given any water for irrigation. The only sugar factory of the district, a cooperative venture, is on the verge of closure. The sugarcane growers are yet to get their arrears amounting to three crore rupees. Nor have the factory workers got their wages for several months. The government is not interested in holding any election to the cooperative’s governing body.

The area is known all over the country for mustard production, but the growers are being looted in mandis where they are not getting any remunerative price for mustard. They are also being doled out spurious seeds and fertiliser. There is no adequate power supply for agriculture and yet the peasants are being subjected to forcible recoveries. They are also being implicated in false cases of power theft.

There was a time when Banmaur industrial area was established for the district’s development. But most of the factories of this area have been closed while the surviving ones are in the grip of a recession. Layoffs and retrenchments are the order of the day. Labour laws are being violated with impunity, and the government and administration are only mute spectators.

The tribal belt of Sheopur has been in the news for hunger, malnutrition and the death of tribal children because of vomiting and diarrhoea which are not difficult to control. Though the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme has been in operation here from the very beginning, it is marred with corruption and has been unable to solve the problem of hunger or to halt the tribals’ emigration. The Forest Rights Act too has failed to give the tribals proprietary rights over land. The CPI(M) is striving to unite the tribal people on these issues.

The BJP has put up its state president as its Lok Sabha candidate and he began to flout the model code of conduct as soon as his candidature was announced. On March 22, he forcibly captured the Gwalior-Sheopur train for his poll campaign and also held election meetings on railway platforms which is illegal. But, despite two complaints against him, nothing has been done against him, and he is continuing with his illegal methods. On March 26, he put up a large number of his own and the chief minister’s cut-outs in Ambaah town, and these were not removed despite a complaint. One may well imagine how far the BJP would go to misuse the official machinery when the polls come closer.

The Congress nominee is striving to do something on his own, but the statewide factionalism within the party is getting reflected here as well. It may be that, in the end, the fellow would have to rely on his own resources.

The BSP’s mass base is gripped with resentment and despondency because of its choice of candidate.

The CPI(M)’s poll campaign is gradually gaining momentum in all the eight assembly segments of this Lok Sabha constituency. Mass meetings and workers’ meetings have been held in more than three hundred villages. The process of local level mass meetings was by and large complete by March 31, and the top leaders of the party are soon to address big election meetings. The party is getting enthusiastic support from the people, and now the task is to see that the distribution of wine and money or the evils of casteism and communalism are not able to influence the people’s mandate in the last few days of the poll process. The polling is to take place here on April 30.

(Adopted from a report in Lok Jatan fortnightly, Bhopal, April 1-15.)