(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
July 17, 2011
INCLUSION OF RURAL POOR IN BPL LISTS
AFTER the major statewide struggle for
implementation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA), which was led by the All
Kisan Sabha (AIKS) in Maharashtra in January-February 2011 and which
over one lakh peasants (see report in Peoples
Democracy, March 21-27, 2011), another big statewide struggle led
by the AIKS
recently was for the inclusion of names of the poor in the BPL (Below
Line) lists. This is another burning issue facing the rural poor in
OF RURAL POOR
It is a notorious fact that BPL surveys have been fraudulent, often excluding the poor and including the rich in the BPL lists. For this reason, the 2002 BPL survey, which eventually came into force in 2006, was challenged in the Supreme Court. In the Writ Petition (Civil) No 196 of 2001, Peoples Union of Civil Liberties versus Union of India & others, the Supreme Court ruled on February 14, 2006 that provision will be made to allow new names to be added and ineligible names deleted from the BPL list 2002 on a continuous basis during the period that the list will be applicable.
However, in line with the thoroughly anti-people, neo-liberal policies of the UPA-2 central government, the state government said that there would be no increase in the total number of BPL beneficiaries that have been arbitrarily decided by the Planning Commission. If new deserving entrants are to be admitted into the BPL lists, the same number of relatively better-off people will have to be excluded.
According to the official figures, poverty
Poverty in rural
However, in the year 2010, of the total 215.95 lakh ration cards in Maharashtra, the number and percentage of various categories were as follows, according to the Economic Survey of Maharashtra, 2010-11: Antyodaya 23.40 lakh (10.8 per cent), BPL 43.75 lakh (20.3 per cent), Annapurna 0.86 lakh (0.4 per cent), APL 138.40 lakh (64.1 per cent), White 9.54 lakh (4.4 per cent). This means that Antyodaya + BPL categories together came to just 31.1 per cent (67.15 lakh cards), which is much less than even the official poverty estimates.
According to the provisional figures of the
2011 Census, Maharashtra has a total population of 11.24 crore, ranking
in all states in
Hence, apart from the campaign for inclusion in the present BPL lists, there has to be a big struggle to increase the total quantum of the people under BPL, using realistic criteria in the new and dubious BPL census that is about to begin. Also, there has to be a struggle for the universalisation of the public distribution system and expansion of the doorstep ration scheme to ensure genuine food security. Along with this, the struggle for remunerative prices to the peasantry based on the cost of production has to be intensified.
It was with this basic position that the AIKS began the struggle. After holding tehsil-level workshops to explain the issue and the modus operandi of the struggle, hundreds of activists of the Maharashtra Rajya Kisan Sabha began a campaign of going to the rural poor, village to village. They filled up the BPL appeal forms as per the format given by the state government. Massive rallies of the rural poor on the tehsil offices across the state were held to submit these appeal forms to the government authorities. The struggle began from the Akole tehsil of Ahmednagar district and then spread to several other districts in the state.
The AIKS state council gave a call for statewide demonstrations on this issue on May 9 to submit the BPL appeal forms. This struggle elicited spontaneous response from the rural poor. Over one lakh poor peasants, agricultural labourers, unorganised rural workers and artisans took part in 35 tehsil-level demonstrations in 14 districts, and over one lakh BPL appeal forms were submitted to the tehsildars. In Thane district, the struggle was jointly led by the AIKS, AIDWA and DYFI. The AIDWA in Ahmednagar district and the SFI in Pune district actively helped in the campaign. The local media gave excellent coverage to the rallies.
The district-wise total mobilisation figures in this struggle were as follows: Thane 33,000, Nashik 31,000, Ahmednagar 23,500, Pune 16,000, Kolhapur 3,500, Nanded 3,000, Parbhani 1,500, Beed 1,000, Yavatmal 500, Amravati 350, Satara 350, Sangli 350, Solapur 200, Hingoli 200, Total 1,14,450.
Some of the largest and most impressive rallies in this struggle on the BPL issue were as follows: Akole, district Ahmednagar 13,000; Talasari, district Thane 10,000; Junnar, district Pune 10,000; Sangamner, district Ahmednagar 7,000; Jawhar, district Thane 7,000; Ambegaon, district Pune 6,000; Kalwan, district Nashik 5,000; Igatpuri, district Nashik 5,000; Vikramgad, district Thane 5,000; Sinnar, district Nashik 4,000; Rahuri, district Ahmednagar 3,500; Ichalkaranji, district Kolhapur 3,500; Kinwat, district Nanded 3,000; Chandwad, district Nashik 3,000; Dindori, district Nashik 3,000; Selu, district Parbhani 1,500; Ashti, district Beed 1,000.
Now pressure is being exerted by the AIKS on the tehsildars in the above districts to see to it that the talathis and gram sevaks are sent to the villages to actually conduct the inquiry about the appeal forms that have been submitted, so as to include them in the BPL lists.
Among the AIKS leaders who led the above actions were J P Gavit (former MLA), Rajaram Ozare (MLA), Kisan Gujar, Dr Ajit Nawale, Ratan Budhar, Barkya Mangat, Prin. A B Patil, Arjun Adey, Nanasaheb Pokale, Ramkrishna Shere, Uddhav Poul and Dr Ashok Dhawale (all AIKS state office-bearers), Vasant Dhadga, Savliram Pawar, Irfan Shaikh, Shivram Girandhala, Raja Gahala, Yashwant Ghatal, Subhash Nikam, Adv Natha Shingade, Amol Waghmare, Mahendra Thorat, Somnath Mali, Ashok Pekari, Sadashiv Sable, Sahebrao Ghode, Adv Dnyaneshwar Kakad, Balasaheb Walunj, Jijabai Ushir, Ashabai Jadhav, Devidas Adole, Namdev Rakshe, Hanuman Gunjal and Haribhau Tambe. CITU leaders Dr D L Karad, Ajit Abhyankar, Vasant Pawar, Edward Vartha and Ladak Kharpade, AIDWA leaders Mariam Dhawale, Hemlata Kom, Adv Vasudha Karad and Asha Naikwadi, DYFI leader Sunil Dhanwa and SFI leader Prashant Vidhate also worked for the success of, and addressed, some of these major rallies.