Bihar: Political Manoeuvres and Mass Struggles
Arun Kumar Mishra
POLITICS over iftar was the hot topic for discussion in Bihar, leaving behind the pressing problems faced by the common people. The local print, electronic and social media are agog with reports of new political alignment in the offing. Two iftars organised by the RJD and Kumar’s JD(U) have added fodder to the rumour mill. The bonhomie shown between Nitish Kumar and the family members of Lalu Prasad provided further grist to the chattering mill. Will Nitish Kumar rock the NDA boat?
Nobody can answer the puzzling question immediately. But if one goes by the recent political developments, one can easily discern the tension brewing between the BJP and the JDU. The BJP is acting according to its plan to gobble up smaller parties and after the division engineered in LJP, the VIP has been swallowed up by engineering defections and inducting all the three MLAs of the VIP into the BJP. But the JD(U) is not a small fish. So different tactics are being employed to create division among the JD(U) ranks.
Being aware of the devious plan of the BJP, Nitish Kumar is positioning himself to take a political about-turn at a crucial juncture. For the time being, he is enjoying his centrality in Bihar politics and trying to extract maximum political mileage to shore up his bargaining power. All such dramas by the ruling parties are enacted to hoodwink the people and make them forget their daily woes which have grown manifold due to skyrocketing prices of essential commodities, which is directly linked with the daily dose of fuel price hike and complete mishandling of economic affairs by the central and state governments. Even the middle class is feeling the pinch as they are paying through their nose for health, education and everything that sustains their daily life.
Bihar, which is at the bottom of all the economic and social parameters as stated by the Niti Aayog, remains the supplier of its cheap workforce to every nook and corner of the country as it has failed to generate employment within the state. Horrific incidents of deaths of migrant workers from Bihar have become routine as they work under inhuman conditions and are treated very badly by their masters. Bihar is witnessing an all-around deterioration in the law-and-order situation and a marked increase in atrocities against women and dalits. Murder, rape and domestic violence against women and Dalits have become daily affairs. A woman in Madhepura district, who had gone to relieve herself in a field, was picked up by three men of the same village and was severely thrashed in a village panchayat for her alleged love affair. Only after the intervention of the National Commission for Women that an FIR registered against the offenders. But many such incidents remain unreported and perpetrators of such crimes roam freely threatening the victims to remain tight-lipped.
In the background of this grim situation, the communal forces are also raising their head to create polarisation in a society where to date they have failed to make much headway. The viral video of the unfurling of saffron flags on the domes of a mosque in a village in Muzaffarpur district is very worrisome and poses a grave challenge in front of the Left and secular forces of Bihar. They cannot remain complacent and will have to accept the challenge squarely by coming together and mobilising the people to combat these dark reactionary forces.
It is heartening to note that a joint meeting of the left parties -- CPI(M), CPI, CPI(ML) -- and the RJD took place at the RJD office on April 26 and it was decided that a joint movement be launched on people’s issues and against communal agenda of the RSS-BJP. These parties will hold a joint state-level convention on June 5 at the Bapu Sabhagar in Patna and action programmes will be announced. CPI(M) state secretary, Lalan Chowdhary, Central Committee member Awadhesh Kumar and state secretariat member, Sarvodaya Sharma represented the Party in the joint meeting.
PARTY INTERVENTION IN BALTHAR ISSUE
In a shocking incident in Bulthar in West Champaran district, an auto driver was brutally murdered by the police. Following the killing, villagers staged an angry protest, which resulted in a violent clash between the police and them. The death of a policeman due to injuries suffered during the clash infuriated the police administration so much that the entire village was cordoned off with heavy police mobilisation. All the villagers fled the place but they were implicated in cases of arson, loot and violence against police personnel and causing death to a policeman. In that situation, CPI(M) delegation under the leadership of Lalan Chowdhary visited the village and gathered information regarding the incident. Later, the Party demanded action against the superintendent of police of the district who was found guilty of weaving a false story to cover up the brutality of the SHO and other personnel of Balthar police station.
MOVEMENT AGAINST PRICE RISE
On the call of the CPI(M) Central Committee, protests were held in 25 districts of Bihar against the continuous rise in prices of fuels and essential commodities. Demonstrations and marches were organised and effigies of the prime minister were burnt at several places.
PROTESTS AGAINST EVICTIONS
In the background of an abnormal rise in land value, the land mafia and builders, in nexus with corrupt bureaucrats and with the active support of the NDA government, are trying to evict the poor and homeless people who are in possession of the government, ceiling surplus and 'gairmajarua' land. The government has threatened to evict all the so-called encroached land without providing alternative living sites to these people.
Recently, the landless and homeless people who have been living in Rajni village of Madhepura for the last 50 years were threatened by the local land mafia in connivance with the police administration. The villagers are being forced to hand over the land to the land mafia who claim that they have a court order in their favour. The villagers under the leadership of CPI(M) organised a protest meeting at the same place where the land mafia had held a meeting to attack the villagers. Seeing the militant mood of the villagers, land grabbers retreated hastily. The big meeting was addressed by Lalan Chowdhary, Awadhesh Kumar and district leaders of the party.
Another big demonstration was organised at the Khagaria district headquarters against an eviction drive. Even those who have been living in the area for decades with all legal documents in their possession are being threatened to be evicted. The meeting was addressed by Lalan Chowdhary, state secretariat member and MLA Ajay Kumar, Rajendra Singh, Khetihar Mazdoor Union state president, Devendra Chaurasia and district secretary Sanjay Kumar.
INTERVENTION IN DALIT ISSUES
Dalits are at the receiving end under the present regime. The feudal elements are so emboldened that they can do anything against the most vulnerable sections of society. In Baheri village of Darbhanga district, a dalit village was attacked by the land mafia and their armed goons. A dalit woman, Shushila Devi, was severely injured and was rushed to a hospital. The CPI(M) district committee and the Dalit Mukti Mission (DMM) unit of the district organised a militant demonstration. Later on, a senior police officer met a delegation and assured them to take immediate action against the offenders. The demonstration was addressed by Lalan Chowdhary and DMM state secretary, Shyam Bharti and local DMM leader, Hari Shankar Ram.
A very disturbing incident took place at Gudhihari village under Hanuman Nagar block in Darbhanga district. Gudhihari is inhabited by 500 families of dalits and OBC and they possess all the legal documents of the homestead land. The pathways to this village were blocked by high caste neighbours and now the poor villagers cannot move out of their village with their livestock. High caste neighbours are enraged as these dalits and poor people do not obey their command and do not work without a wage. On March 21, armed goons belonging to high caste attacked the Dalit village. Dozens of men and women got injured and had to be hospitalised. Police were compelled to file an FIR after the deposition by an injured woman, Matiyani Devi. The CPI(M) intervened immediately and staged a militant demonstration at the district headquarters and submitted a memorandum to the district magistrate. The DM immediately ordered to restore the pathways to the dalit village. The village lacks bare minimum civic facilities. The government school is in a dilapidated condition and classes are held under a tree.
The CPI(M) state secretariat, in its recent meeting, decided to fight against the eviction drives and attacks against the dalits and carry on the campaign against communalism in a big way.