How do you Solve a Problem called Bihar ?
The interim order of the Supreme Court has once again highlighted the perpetual dilemma of India’s ruling elite: how do you govern Bihar – how do you manage the utterly unruly State? That the vaunted values of constitutionalism and rule of law never operate in Bihar society at large was already well-known; now the court tells us they do not apply even in the highest fora of governance — the assembly and the Governor’s house, with the Union Cabinet also acting in unholy collusion. But to give the devil his due, one must at least partially concede a point raised by Buta Singh: he merely recommended, Delhidecided. And remember that in taking the decision, the present Congress leadership merely followed a tradition set by our most illustrious prime ministers from the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty since the 1950s. Well, if you expected them to be a bit more cautious after they were left with bleeding nose not so long ago over an abortive attempt to install a UPA government in Jharkhand, you were wrong. The leopard will not change its hue. As in that case (and as on many other occasions too), the Congress has once again managed to help the saffron brigade stake a stronger claim to power – this time in Bihar.
The parliamentary left, however, persistently refuses to see this. In the name of isolating the BJP, it continues to lean upon and trail behind the Congress and / or other UPA partners except in their base States (the CPI’s present electoral tactics in Bihar is only a particular variant of this practice in a very particular situation). Thus at the time of dissolution of the Bihar assembly the CPI and the CPI(M) had, perfectly in tune with the Congress leadership, the RJD supremo and the Bihar Governor, justified that move even as we condemned it as a fraud, a farce foisted on the people of Bihar. Now that the apex court has held the dissolution malafide and unconstitutional, political propriety demands that they should either oppose this ruling or acknowledge that their earlier position was mistaken. They have done neither. The general secretaries of both the CPI and the CPI(M) in their statements passed all the blame on to the Bihar Governor, and to Article 356 generally, trying to shield the central authority in this specific case. Another central leader of the CPI even said those who criticise the centre are politicising the issue!
But the people of Bihar have eyes to see through all these political chicanery, to see who actually stands behind bad boy Buta. They will not also forget which left party stood away from the left-sponsored 24 May Bihar bandh demanding the removal of the Governor. The UPA (plus the CPI (M), if you choose to consider it separately) in Bihar is therefore visibly on the defensive. As part of a crisis management initiative, the PM emerged from the Chandigarh consultations with a cautiously worded acknowledgement of the centre’s responsibility, saving the removal of the Governor, it seems, for a more opportune moment. The other UPA or alternative UPA for Bihar, (comprising the LJP and the CPI in the main) is not in an enviable position either. Paswan had claimed to himself the ‘credit’ for spoiling the prospects of RJD and NDA — for imposition of President’s rule in other words — and now he cannot easily avoid the discredit and discomfiture associated with the new turn of events. While putting up a brave face, he has commented that the SC should not have pronounced the order at this juncture.
On the other side of the fence, a recharged NDA is striving to make the best possible use of the court order, though its holier-than-thou attitude cuts little ice given its not-so-superb track record in matters of democracy and clean politics. Desperate for the power that seemed to just slip out of their hands on May 23, the hungry challengers will go to any length for the kill. So will defenders RJD, whose supremo can now see for himself, for the first time in fifteen years, a very strong likelihood of losing power. The net effect is going to be a more polarised polling — probably more violent too — the true representatives of the downtrodden being the common target of both the dominant class-caste groups and of the notoriously biased, criminalised administration.
But the downtrodden are standing up. In the last elections they held up the revolutionary communists as their foremost representatives in Bihar; this time around they are determined to do it on a larger scale. This is why the popular masses feel relieved that another farce has not been imposed upon them in the shape of an abrupt judicial end to the electoral process. They do not wish to leave their fate to be decided by some ‘experts’ or professional manipulators or the courts, they are eager to fight it out for themselves.
And they are determined to fight not just for their burning immediate demands, but for a new Bihar in a new India . The SC order has served to expose some of the deeper ironies of our state system as a whole. The President as the custodian of the Constitution makes an official pronouncement that is declared unconstitutional by the apex court which, unable to take an appropriate remedial measure, grudgingly approves an electoral process that has as its origin a blatant violation of the Constitution! Such basic paradoxes cannot be solved within constitutional parameters — not surely, in the present case, by restoring the assembly. The solution lies only in an intensified movement for total transformation. And it is as a part of this larger, longer, uninterrupted war that the toiling masses of Bihar and their communist vanguards are fighting the battle of ballots. Here alone, in the enormous creative potential of revolutionary mass movement, lies the solution to the problem called Bihar , nay, Bharat.
What is Wrong With Bihar ?
(We reproduce here from the Patna edition of the Hindustan Times dated 9 October 2005 the answers by the CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya to the six questions posed before him for a special column of the daily in the wake of the Bihar Assembly elections)
What is wrong with Bihar ?
On the face of it, little seems to be going right for Bihar today. But tragedy struck quite early when after independence powerful feudal forces managed to subvert and derail the state's development potential through their controlling presence in politics, bureaucracy and the judiciary. Over the years, this systematic feudal subversion has led to a series of inter-linked maladies - chronic economic stagnation, massive financial loot and now rampant criminalisation of governance and all pervasive anarchy.
What must the state do to undo the wrong?
Bihar can not move forward without liberating itself from the clutches of feudal-criminal nexus. The pre-Mandal and post-Mandal rulers of Bihar have forged a social and political compact among themselves represented by the Congress-RJD and BJP-JD(U) combines - to resist any real attempt for social transformation and progress. The rural poor, the middle sections and enlightened professionals must form a progressive counter-compact to thwart this conspiracy.
What are the weaknesses of Bihar ?
The stubborn vestiges of feudalism including the feudal craving for privileges and contempt for individual and collective rights, the crude accumulation of wealth and social ostentations and shocking lack of respect for labour and production, myriad prejudices and discrimination against the poor, the downtrodden and women - all these contribute to the continuing retardation of Bihar and must be weeded out.
What are its strengths?
Bihar is blessed with highly fertile land and abundant water resources. But its biggest asset is its people who are waging a glorious battle for the survival and change in the face of all odds.
What is your prescription for a growth oriented Bihar ?
Rapid implementation of land reforms; urgent public investment in agriculture and rural infrastructure; reopening of closed industries and setting up of a chain of agro-based and labour intensive industries; enforcement of effective employment guarantee in every panchayat; improving the delivery and quality of public distribution, education and healthcare systems. The World Bank prescriptions - wholesale dismantling of public utilities and services - are a proven recipe for disaster and must be avoided.
What Bihar means to you, in one sentence?
Hope and relentless struggle for a better tomorrow. (Accessed by Rai Atul Krishna )
CPI(ML) Demands for Recall of Buta Singh
New Delhi , 8 October.
CPI(ML) has welcomed the recent Supreme Court verdict terming the dissolution of Bihar Assembly as unconstitutional and has reiterated its demand for recalling Bihar Governor Buta Singh with immediate effect.
Party had earlier opposed the dissolution of Bihar Assembly and even called for a successful Bihar bandh on this question. Now this position has been vindicated by the Supreme Court.
CPI(ML) Polit Bureau member and Bihar State Secretary Ramjatan Sharma has said in a statement that during the President’s rule in Bihar pace of criminalisation of politics has further increased and incidents of repression on democratic movements are on a rise.
Maha Lok Panchayat in Punjab on 98th Birth Anniversary of Shaheed Bhagat Singh
Punjab unit of the CPI(ML) commemorated the 98 th Birth Anniversary of Shaheed Bhagat Singh by organising a massive Lok Panchayat at Mansa on 28 September. The Panchayat addressed the issue of strengthening the movement against the anti-people and pro-imperialist policies of the government. Thousands of peasants, agricultural labourers, youth, and women pledged on the day to intensify the struggles against the policies of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation.
A life-size poster of Shaheed Bhagat Singh was also released, in a special ceremony in the everning, by the eminent cultural activist and dramatist Gurusharan Singh, CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya and nephew of Bhagat Singh Prof. Jagmohan Singh. A number of eminent citizens, writers, artists and other intellectuals were present on the occasion. This painting, created by the famous artist Inderjeet, was appreciated by all.
Comrade Dipankar reminded the gathering of the importance of the National Hero Bhagat Singh in the on going struggles against the pro-imperialist policies by the government and said that while the Gandhi's fallacy is being exposed day by day, Bhagat Singh continues to be regarded as a symbol of revolutionary change. He also reminded of the total failure of the Green Revolution in Panjab and elsewhere in India which is now leading to suicides by farmers and starvation deaths and warned against the governmental attempts to impose another extension of this, the much hyped Second Green Revolution, which is nothing but transferring profits from agriculture to the multinationals and corporates. This will further pauperise the peasants and will lead to more intense agrarian crisis, he said and called upon for the unity of peasants and workers for the much wider struggles against these policies.
Tarsem Singh Jodha, leader of CPI(M)(P) emphasised on the unity among left parties to sharpen struggles against the existing agrarian crisis. He blamed opportunist politics of the CPI(M) as the biggest hurdle in the way of the left unity and said that united struggles by the revolutionary forces only can fill this gap. MCPI leader Mangat Ram Longowal, Vice President of BKU(Ekta) Ruldu Singh, Gurnam Bhikhi of RYA, Nikka Singh Samaon of AISA, Balwinder Kaur of AIPWA, Sukhdarshan Nath of Democratic Employees' Front, Mansa District Secretary of CPI(ML) Bhagwant Singh Samao and AICCTU leader Har Bhagwan Bhikhi also addressed the Lok Panchayat. CPI(ML) Central Committee member Rajendra Pratholi was present in the Panchayat. The proceedings were conducted by Comrade Jeeta Kaur.
CPI(ML) State Secretary Rajwinder Rana presented a fifteen-point resolution which was passed unanimously by the thousands of people present in the Panchayat. The resolutions included demands to stop entry of multinational companies; waiver of loans to peasants, agri. workers, and petty shopkeepers; to stop seizure warrants against the non-payment of loans on the property like land, house, shops, and other means of livelihood; to stop cut in subsidies on education, healthcare, water, electricity and pensions; to stop various kinds of social and religious discriminations; to ensure rights of agricultural workers, construction, brick-kiln and other unorganised sector workers and to enact legislations for them;, to stop the practice of contract and bonded labour - especially the women who collect cattle-dung in Punjab; to ensure employment to every unemployed; to stop practice of money-lending; to stop corruption in government offices and to seize the property of corrupt officials; to stop liquor sale in Punjab and many other demands.
The cultural team of Gurusharan Singh and some others presented revolutionary songs in the Panchayat.
In the end, an appeal to contribute for the CPI(ML) Bihar Election Fund was also made to the participants of the Panchayat which was welcomed by all and a sum of Rs. 10,000 was collected on the spot. The Maha Lok Panchayat was concluded with a resolve to intensify struggle on the above demands and to make the forthcoming National Conference of the All India Agricultural Labour Association, to be held in Rajamundry of Andhra Pradesh, a great success.
Message to the Communist Party of Pakistan
CPI(ML) has sent a solidarity message to the Communist Party of Pakistan in the wake of the recent earthquake that caused immese losses to people of both the countries. The message says, "We express our condolences to those who lost their beloved and express our wishes for early recovery of the injured." and "On behalf of the entire membership of our Party and the people of India, The Central Committee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist- Leninist) whole heartedly offer our fullest cooperation and extend all possible help to carry the mission of rescue, relief, rehabilitation, reconstruction and prevention of epidemic diseases promptly."
It further adds, "The biggest natural disaster of South Asia has paralyzed the entire Kashmir region. The huge earth quake was felt in both Pakistan and India as well as across the sub-continent, including Afganistan, at varied intensities. It had inflicted highest disaster on the people of Pakistan-Kashmir and NWFP destroying villages and towns leaving several thousand dead and injured."
"Together with you, we feel the grief as well as the responsibility common and we do share the agony of the peoples of Pakistan and divided Kashmir . And also their anger against the governments of both India and Pakistan for their irresponsibility and insensitivity towards the peoples’ lives which caused such a huge loss to the people in earth quake prone area."
"We firmly believe that, turning the grief into determination, courageous people of Pakistan and whole of Kashmir shall overcome this great tragedy unitedly and win the war against death, disease and destruction with the International Peoples’ Solidarity and support."
BCCL Must Own Responsibility for Every Mine Accident
The Coal Mines Workers' Union (CMWU) has strongly condemned the nexus of BCCL officials with contractors and politicians and held it responsible for the mine collapse near Panchet on Oct. 3 that took many lives. Initially, officials denied any deaths but later five bodies were recovered while some more may be still buried. The large scale 'illegal' mining is done at almost all the mining sites by the local villagers in Jharkhand and this is the only source of their livelihood. Once the BCCL abandones the mine for certain reasons, it actually goes into the hands of local contractor-musclemen-politician nexus who connive with the administration and BCCL officials and mint money by continue mining at that site. But when some accident occurs this nexus simply melts away and the blame goes to the workers who, in effect, happens to be the victims, not only of the tragedy but also of the system. Few days ago, on Sept 29, a similar accident took nearly forty lives, mostly women workers, at Rajrappa in Hazaribagh district.
AICCTU held a protest demonstration against this mine collapse on October 4 at Panchet. A delegation led by AICCTU leader Upendra Singh also met the BCCL Chairman and Managing Director Partho Bhattacharya at the site of the accident, when he reached there for an on-site assessment, and demanded to legalise the so-called illegal mining being done by the very poor local people and make cooperatives of the miners and BCCL should purchase and market the coal mined by them. Delegation also asked the BCCL Chairman to take responsibility of this collapse and provide employment to the family members of those killed in the accident. Though the CMD agreed to the demands in principle and assured for the fulfilment of the same, an action in that direction is now awaited.
Protest against Forest Mafia and Killings by the Wild Elephants
Jharkhand Mazdoor Kisan Samiti (JMKS) held a protest with hundreds of suffering tribals and peasants, many of whom have lost their loved ones in the attacks by wild elephants while massive losses have been caused to their crops. The protest, held at Forest Office in Khairchater in Jharkhand, was an organised reaction against the nexus of mafia and forest officials, although the latter tried to foil this display of public anger by mobilising more than a hundred musclemen, but failed seeing the mililant mood of the people. Protesters were demanding to take measures to put a halt on increasing attacks by wild elephants on the villages, a compensation to families of those killed in these attacks and also to those whose crops and property have been destroyed. They also demanded crop insurance and training of village youth to tackle the menace of elephants, but the most important of the demands was to stop repression by forest officials and exploitation by mafia.
The elephant menace has reached to unprecedented heights in the areas adjoining forest in districts like Bokaro, Hazaribagh, Ranchi and Santhal Pargana. In last two months more than two dozen villagers have lost their lives. While people keep up a vigil by waking up all the night, forest officials have taken no action so far although their nexus with the forest mafia continues to exploit the forests and terrorise the villagers. Many innocents have been framed under false cases and, recently, 18 women were sent to jail by the officials in the name of protecting forests. The militancy of this protest forced the Chief Forest Officer to announce for the compensation to the victims, but much is needed to curb the hold of forest mafia from the forests so that common villagers can live a peaceful life and proper conservation of valuable forests may be achieved.
PW backed armed criminals shot dead Comrade Burha Manjhi, 30, near Bharatpura village of Dulhin Bazar in Patna district on 9 October 2005.
We pay our sincere condolences to his family and pledge to carry forward his unfinished mission.