THREE months of campaigns and mobilisation of people at the grassroots level on their day-to-day issues culminated in a huge turnout of peasants, workers and women at Jan-Aakrosh March in Patna on September 19. It has sent a strong message of determination to fight the anti-people policies pursued by the BJP-led Centre and the Nitish Kumar-led state government.
Long before the political development that brought the BJP to power in Bihar through backdoor by the shameless act of political opportunism of Nitish Kumar, the Party had planned to mobilise the people on various issues such as food security, waiving of farm loans, implementation of the Swaminathan Commission recommendations on minimum support price for crops, and proper implementation of social security schemes.
The Party also demanded 200-day work under MNREGA scheme, equal pay for equal work, Rs 18,000 as minimum wage, implementation of land reform as suggested by the Bandhyopadhayay Commission, implementation of common school system as per the recommendation of the Dubey Commission, delinking the PDS from Adhaar, 10 decimal land for the homeless, and brick-built houses under the prime minister’s housing scheme. The protest was against privatisation of health and education and for a Supreme Court-monitored investigation into the Srijan scam, which exposed the so-called zero tolerance of Nitish Kumar towards corruption.
From May onwards, the Party organised a series of local movements, right from the block levels to the district level, highlighting the local issues concerning the common people. Dharnas and demonstrations were organised at block, subdivision and district levels. As the state and district leaders toured and interacted with the common people, it was commonly observed that people are getting restive and there was a growing resentment against the central and state governments as they failed to deliver what they had promised. Demonetisation has badly affected Bihar’s migrant workers who lost their jobs and had to return home. Due to his political chicanery, Nitish Kumar is losing his “sushashan” (good governance) tag and Bihar has become the next target for the BJP’s communal politics. Gau rakshaks and other communal outfits have started their nefarious activities and attacks against women and dalits have increased manifold. In this background, the Jan-Aakrosh March has set an alternative agenda for future movements based on which the unity of left and democratic forces can be built.
It was a march against neo-liberal and communal politics and against the opportunism of bourgeois land lord formations. It also highlighted a 13-point charter of demands related to the common people. It was one of the biggest mobilisation under the independent initiative of the CPI(M) in the recent past. Enthusiasm of party cadres and participants was all pervasive. The participants started coming to Patna from early morning of September 18. Bymidnight, the Gait Public Library, the sprawling venue for stay for the participants, was overflowing with thousands of people representing the poorer sections of rural population. They came in hired buses, jeeps and other means of transport by pooling resources at different levels. Majority of the participants came by train.
Patna, particularly the Gardanibagh area, the venue designated by the state government to hold protest marches, were decorated with red flags, banners, buntings, posters, chain flags, etc.
By 11.30 in the morning, the entire area was jam-packed with a large number of women sitting on the road braving the most oppressive heat of the season. CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, Polit Bureau member Subhashini Ali and state secretary Awadhesh Kumar attended the march. With veteran Kisan leader Ramshray Singh in the chair, the mass meeting started right at 11.30 am.
Yechury said the countdown to the exit of Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar has begun. He lambasted the anti-people policies of the Modi regime which has resulted in all-round failure. It has failed to honour even one of the pledges it had made to the people during the 2014 election. It has betrayed the trust of the people and the economy is in shambles due to ill-conceived demonetisation and the implementation of GST in ham-handed manner. The talk of demographic dividend has turned into nightmare as the youths of the country have been left high and dry due to joblessness and the inability of the government to create jobs for the millions of youths joining the growing labour force.
He severely criticised the BJP government for pursuing a pro-US policy and abandoning the role of the leading voice of the Third World countries. The privatisation of defence sector will jeoparadise the sovereignty of the country. Turning to the Nitish Kumar government, he tore apart his claims of zero tolerance towards corruption, saying Nitish Kumar was quite aware of corruption charges against Lalu Prasad when he entered into an electoral alliance with the RJD. Yechury also mentioned the “Shrijan Scam” and the role of the state government to cover it up. Proclaiming to usher in a “Sangh-mukt Bharat”, Kumar landed in the lap of the RSS and betrayed the mandate of crores of Bihar electorate. Failure of his government to mitigate the sufferings of the flood-marooned people of north Bihar is unpardonable. He dwelt at length on the plurality and diversity of India which is under attack under the present dispensation. We must protect the idea of India, he said. He exhorted the people of Bihar to lead the country against the communal fascist attack of the RSS-BJP as they had done during the Emergency.
Polit Bureau member Shubhashini Ali lauded the spirit of the people of Bihar who have come to challenge the oppressive central and state governments. She termed the three years of the Modi government as a rule of exploitation and oppression. Instead of people’s welfare, it is economically squeezing the people and protecting the divisive forces added and abated by it. Nitish Kumar has forgotten the special status demand for Bihar and has no guts to raise the issue of special package. He has surrendered before Modi fearing his role is ‘Shrijan Scam’. She referred to the growing resistance of farmers all over the country and hoped that farmers of Bihar will also join them and make it more militant. The movement will lead to the overthrow of the present central and state regimes. She underlined the need of unity among the fighting masses.
Speaking earlier, Awadhesh Kumar attacked the Nitish Kumar government for its all-round failure in providing relief to the flood-affected people and lambasted the Modi dispensation for donating only a measly amount of Rs 500 crore, which is nothing but a drop in the ocean considering the large-scale destruction of human and animal lives.
He spoke in detail the significance of the 13-point charter of demands and the movements organised by the state party at different levels. He warned the government against curbing the growing attacks on dalits, women and minorities and threatened to unleash the people’s resistance in coming months. He particularly stressed the need to fight the communal fascist forces led by the RSS and its affiliates and called upon the government to take stern action against these elements. The Jan-Aakrosh March was made successful due to the campaigns and mobilisation at the grassroots level.