People's Democracy

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


Vol. XXXIII

No. 46

November 15, 2009

BIHAR

 

Call For Land Liberation Movement

 Left Parties Hold Convention on Food Security, Floods and Drought Price Rise and Land Reforms

 

Sarvodaya Sarma

 

ON OCTOBER 31, four Left parties, viz the CPI(M), CPI, AIFB and RSP, organised a state level convention on food security, floods and drought, price rise and land reforms in the Janashakti Bhavan campus in Patna. Over 2000 Left leaders and workers participated in the convention which concluded with a unanimous resolution calling for land liberation movement by earmarking the surplus land and the land from where sharecroppers have been evicted. The resolution said this connection of the Left parties in Bihar strongly condemned the central as well as the state government for the unprecedented price rise, criminal negligence of food security, and the failure to find a solution to the recurrent floods and drought. In addition, the convention lambasted the failure of the Nitish Kumar led JD(U)-BJP government to implement the recommendations of Land Reform Commission under the chairmanship of D Bandopadhyaya. Discussing the grim price rise situation, severe flood, drought and food security, the convention underlined the specify demands pertaining to these issues, and also called for district level joint conventions in November, to be followed by a “mahadharna” in the state capital on December 16.

 

LAND REFORMS

COMMISSION REPORT

The political importance of the convention lay in the background of the situation, with the D Bandhapadhyaya land reforms commission having presented its report in the last session at assembly. The commission was set up by the Nitish government three years back after getting a resounding victory in the last assembly elections. He in fact appointed D Bandhopahyaya, officer in charge of Operation Barga in West Bengal, to build his image as a champion of the poor dalits, mahadalits and MBCs. But when the commission presented its report, Nitish Kumar was taken aback by the way the commission enumerated the causes of non-implementation of land reforms in Bihar. He pointed out how the government lacked political will and that there was insufficient pressure of movement on the part of the people. The commission also brought out the fact that the land records in the state are incomplete and not up-to-date. The bhoodan lands are still with the donors, and the rightful landless people are still not in possession of these lands despite getting parchas long back. The ceding surplus lands are still with the ex-landlords or land mafias, and these lands were never distributed among the landless on the ground. As a result of protracted struggle, the landless people and agricultural workers had brought under cultivation some surplus land, government land, farze land, the lands that emerged after the rivers or nullahs changed their cause, and that is the main source of their livelihood now. But the administration has still not settled these lands in the name of actual cultivators. So while they face attacks from the ex-landlords and their hired criminals, they also bear the brunt of administrative and police excesses. Sometimes, they face eviction also. They constantly live in fear and risk their lives for survival. The closed sugar mills and factory owners have hundreds of acres of land whereas they don’t need more than 15 acres for their office and factory uses. The commission commented that such things could not happen without active collaboration between the offenders and high government officials, and therefore FIRs should be lodged, trials held and guilty people punished. The commission also made certain recommendations ensuring the rights of the sharecroppers as substantial cultivation in the state is done by sharecroppers alone. When the commission completed its report and asked for an appointment with the chief minister to submit the report, the chief minister did not oblige. As a result, the commission had had to dispatch the report by post.

Nitish Kumar’s altitude to the poor and landless was exposed earlier also, when he sat over Justice Amir Das commission report on the activities of Ranvir Sena, an army of the feudal landlords, to protect the involved BJP leaders.

The situation, however, has changed now as Nitish Kumar tasted a serious defeat in the byelections to 18 seats in September, when his JD(U) got only 3 and BJP only 2 out of 18 seats. As Nitish is openly refusing to implement the land reforms and bataidari laws, the Left forces have no alternative but to launch a statewide movement. The bourgeois landlord parties including the RJD, LJP and Congress are also not on the side of agricultural workers and landless people, for fear losing their vote banks.

The convention was covered by media persons on a large scale as political observers are expecting a direct confrontation between the Left forces and the Nitish Kumar government which has failed to deliver even after four years in office. The convention was addressed by CPI(M) state secretary Vijay Kant Thakur and Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, CPI state secretary Badri Naraien Lal and Jalaluddin Ansari, and by state leaders of the AIFB and RSP. The convention was presided over by Subodh Roy of the CPI(M), Jabbar Alam (CPI), Azad (FB) and Ravi Ranjan (RSP). The main resolution was placed by U N Mishra (CPI) and supported by Sarvodaya Sarma of the CPI(M).