People's Democracy

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


No. 52

December 25, 2011

Bihar Provincial Kisan Sabha Observes 82nd Anniv.


                                                                                      Sarvodaya Sarma        


SONEPUR fair is the biggest annual cattle fair in which peasants from Bihar and Eastern Uttar Pradesh participate in large numbers to buy and sell their domestic animals. This event is organised for a month during winter, starting from Kartik Purnima. Traders from other parts of India and abroad also come here for elephants, horses, camels, etc. It is said that this is the biggest traditional Indian cattle fair being organised for centuries.




It was in the Sonepur fair 82 years back that a massive conference of peasants was organised on November 17, 1929. The Bihar Provincial Kisan Sabha was formed here to fight against the colonial and feudal atrocities and exploitation. The historic event was initiated by a rebel Sanyasi, Swami Sahajanand Saraswati, who also became the founder president of the organisation which included the first line leadership of the freedom struggle in Bihar. Late Professor Ram Sharan Sharma, a noted historian, wrote the following words in his forward to a book, Bihar men Kisan Andolan (Peasant Movement in Bihar):


"A few senior leaders of the peasant movement believed then that the national movement against imperialism would weaken if the movement against landlords sharpens. As opposed to this idea, Swami Sahajanand Saraswati and his associates came to the conclusion by 1934 that the feudal forces not only exploit the peasants but also provide sustenance to the British imperialism. As a result of this understanding, peasant movement in Bihar gathered momentum. The members of Kisan Sabha used to participate in freedom struggle as well as the peasant struggle for social justice."


Later on, the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) was formed during Lucknow session of the Congress in 1936, as a result of peasant struggles and the attempts made to organise the peasantry in Bihar and several other provinces in the 1920s and 1930s. In the beginning, it was named All India Kisan Congress, which was also called Kisan Association, but it ultimately came to be known as All India Kisan Sabha. Swami Sahajanand Saraswati became the founder president of the AIKS with Professor N G Ranga as secretary. Great scholar and veteran communist Rahul Sankrityayan and popular socialist leader Jai Prakash Narayan were also associated with this historic event of all-India significance. It is that that the AIKS is currently celebrating its 75th anniversary throughout India.




The Bihar State Kisan Sabha decided to organise the 82nd anniversary of the Provincial Kisan Sabha on November 17, 2011, in the same Sonepur Fair to take lessons from the history, inspire its members, build powerful movements for solution of the problems facing the peasantry today, and give the movement a positive direction towards an agrarian revolution.


Inaugurating the  function, AIKS president and CPI(M) Polit Bureau member S Ramachandran Pillai reminded the audience of the major peasant movements in Bihar, UP, Bengal, Andhra, Kerala, Madras, Gujarat, Maharashtra and other parts of India. Thus the memory of Bakasht, Tebhaga, Surma Valley, Tripura, Vayalar, Punappra, Kayyur and Telangana struggles became fresh in the minds of more than 1000 peasants and workers who had come from various parts of Bihar. Pillai spoke about the sacrifices and sufferings of the peasantry who continued to struggle for liberation from economic and political exploitation, along with the struggle for complete freedom from British imperialism, so that the producing masses could gain economic as well as political power. After 1947 also, the peasants in India have fought for land reforms, bataidari rights, freedom from moneylenders, freedom from the landlordsí atrocities and exploitation, and against the anti-peasant, anti-people policies of the ruling classes and the Congress government.


SRP said agriculture has been badly affected due to the neo-liberal policies imposed on our people by the centre and various state governments. Peasants are facing an extraordinary situation and suffering immensely. Food production has gone down, while prices of various agricultural inputs like seeds, diesel, fertilisers and pesticides are galloping due to black marketing and open market policies. Irrigation facilities are highly inadequate, peasants are not getting remunerative prices, speculative trading in agricultural produce has brought huge profits to investors but only starvation for the rural poor. Now finance capital is entering agriculture. Also, lakhs of acres of land have been occupied in the name of SEZs. Real estate companies are having a field day by selling the farmland and earning huge profits. The achievement of land reforms is being negated. Rural impoverishment is growing while the government is talking  of "growth rate." The real incomes of peasantry and wages of workers and other working people are coming down. The AIKS strives to organise struggles on the above issues in various states from time to time.


Pillai said Bihar is endowed with fertile soil, a huge network of rivers and highly laborious peasants but agriculture is destroyed due to floods and drought. The water management policy is faulty. If Rajasthan and Punjab peasants can produce more, Bihar peasants can also be more prosperous if a scientific water management policy is implemented. He lashed out at the Nitish Kumar led  JD(U)-BJP state government which appointed the Bandhopadhyay commission to suggest land reform measures for agricultural development but the government backed out when the report suggested distribution of 22 lakh acres of surplus land and housesites to landless and homeless agricultural labourers.


The AIKS is organising movements in various states on the basic issues and specific demands, like the recent powerful struggles in Andhra Pradesh. We have to build movements on various issues, viz, for advanced technique in agriculture, subsidies on inputs, establishment of purchase and procurement centres, easy loan on low interest rates, crops insurance, electricity and irrigation, apart from the basic issues of land reforms, bataidars' rights, housesites, minimum wage and honour for agricultural workers. We must fight for making cultivation a profitable proposition. Only then can agriculture become attractive. This is possible only through struggle. We must underline the specific issues on local or regional level and build movements. That is how the AIKS has become the biggest peasant organisation with 2 crore 25 lakh member in 26 states in India. It is also different from other peasant organisations because it is nucleated around agricultural workers and poor peasants, and it takes up the issues affecting all sections of the peasantry and rural poor.  It also takes up the demands of working class and working people for their economic and political emancipation. The history of 75 years of AIKS shows that it has been possible to achieve some demands only where peasant movements and Left forces are strong.




The meeting was also addressed by AIKS joint secretary N K Shukla, Vijay Kant Thakur, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, Krishna Kant Singh, Triveni Sharna Sudhakar and Awadhesh Kumar. AIKS state president Lalan Choudhary presided. Kedar Nath Singh, chairman of the reception committee, welcomed the participants and Arun Kumar, its secretary, proposed the vote of thanks. Artists from Chhapra District Sanskritik Morcha presented folk songs.


A special attraction of the function was that many veterans of the movement were honoured. Pillai honoured Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, Vijay Kant Thakur, K K Singh, Triveni Sharma Sudhakar, Ramdeo Verma, Sarangdhar Paswan, Raj Kaushal Mishra, Mangal Prasad Singh, Girdhari Ram and Mohan Yadav by presenting them shawls. Later on, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi honoured S R Pillai and N K Shukla by presenting them shawls.


AIKS state secretary Awadhesh Kumar urged for observance of 2012 as the Year of Kisan Struggles. He enumerated the issues on which Bihar Kisan Sabha needs to build movements. These are --- for implementation of the land reform measures recommended by the Bandhopadhyay commission, on social issues, for immediate relief and permanent solutions of floods and drought, for withdrawal of hike in fertiliser prices, for an increase in the support price for paddy, for establishment of more centres for the purchase of agricultural products, and for firm steps to curb price rise and corruption. Apart from these, specific local level issues would also be taken up.