Wednesday, October 20, 2010
CPI(ML)'s List of candidates
CPI-ML (L) will contest for 103 out of total 243 seats in Bihar in alliance with CPI and CPM.
CPI(ML)'s list of candidates
The candidates are:
Rameswar Manjhi from Ramnagar (Reserve),
Birendra Prasad Gupta-Sikta,
Prabhu Deo Yadav-Narkatia,
Niyaj Ahmad Siddiqui-Bajpatti,
Uttam Paswan-Rajnagar (Reserve),
Champa Lal Mandal-Forbesganj,
Sushil Kumar Biswas-Araria,
Rajeev Kumar Sah Ravi-Kasba,
Ms Gita Uraon-Manihari(Reserve),
Avinas Kumar Singh-Barari,
Rajkumar Chaudhar-Simri Bakhtiarpur,
Lal Bahadur Sada-Kuseswarasthan(Reserve),
Ms Sanichri Devi-Darbhanga (Rural),
R K Datta-Darbhanga,
Satya Narayan Mukhiya-Hayaghat,
Suraj Kumar Singh- Muzaffarpur,
Jitendra Paswan-Bhore (reserve)
Mohammad Samsan Ahmad- Mahua,
Arvind Kumar Ram-Kalyanpur(Reserve),
Ms Parmila Rai-Samastipur,
Besides CPI-ML's above 48 candidates, 55 more candidates have also been declared.
Rameshwar Prasad from Sandesh in Bhojpur
N K Nanda at Paliganj
Arun Singh at Karakat)
Rajaram Singh from Obera in Aurangabad district
Amarnath Yadav from Raghunath
Mehboob Alam from Balrampur
Satya Dev Ram from Darauli(SC)
New Road to New Bihar
CPI(ML)'s Bihar Election Manifesto
Before you cast your valuable vote in the coming elections for Bihar Assembly, the CPI(ML) appeals to you to spare a thought on the following points. We know you are encircled by any number of issues in your everyday battle for existence. Yet another year of drought and crop-failure, yet another breach in yet another river, rising prices, elusive jobs, growing assault on food security and livelihood – life is certainly quite hard. What makes it even harder is the utter lack of basic facilities – whether electricity or irrigation, education or healthcare, transportation or housing.
There is no paucity of high-sounding schemes – but in all probability your name is missing from the BPL list and hence the schemes do not have any meaning for you. Most probably you have to run around and bribe your way to secure any small benefit that should be yours as a matter of right.
All these problems you have to face are only a reflection of the kind of governments we have and the kind of policies that are in force. And this is where your vote counts. With your vote you can say NO to the government and its policies that ruin your lives, and you can also say YES to the changes you would like to see. Make your vote talk for you, make your vote pave the way for changes that have sometimes been promised but never delivered and often deliberately stopped by the rulers. The CPI(ML) seeks your votes only to intensify the battle for your rights, only to ensure and expedite the changes that you need.
Before we present the CPI(ML)’s charter of key issues for these elections, let us take a look at the other major parties that are asking for your votes. Bihar has so far been ruled primarily by three political forces – the Congress has ruled Bihar for the first 40 years, the JD/RJD for the next 15 years (with the Congress as a partner during the latter half) and the JD(U)-BJP for the last five years. All these forces are making a claim on your votes without taking any responsibility for creating this mess in your lives. We therefore appeal to you to ask them a few uncomfortable questions and demand answers before you decide on your vote.
JD(U)-BJP Combine: New Record in Loot and Deceit
The JD(U)-BJP combine had won a comfortable majority five years ago when Bihar had reposed faith in Nitish Kumar’s promise of ushering in a “New Bihar” and delivering good governance and development with justice. But five years down the line, Bihar once again feels betrayed, with most of its hopes badly belied. Can Nitish Kumar get away without answering the questions that are screaming out from all corners? Consider the following most glaring acts of betrayal by a chief minister who talks of New Bihar but works only for protecting the Old:
1. Nitish Kumar promised justice and rule of law. But one of his first acts after assuming powerwas to disband the Amir Das Commission which was about to publish its report regarding the political links of the notorious Ranvir Sena. The lower courts have recently convicted and sentenced many people in connection with Laxmanpur Bathe, Bathanitola and Nagri massacres, all perpetrated by the Ranvir Sena – but thanks to Nitish Kumar the leaders who patronized the Sena will remain unexposed and go unpunished. One notorious criminal legislator belonging to the ruling combine, who had had to be temporarily suspended from the JD(U), has now been acquitted by the court for lack of ‘evidence’ as the police administration has not bothered to furnish necessary evidence!
2. The government has been bragging about record growth rates when agriculture, the main source of livelihood for the overwhelming majority of Bihari society, has been declining at an alarming rate. In the name of development, the government is showcasing the road sector, even as north Bihar is experiencing recurrent floods because of lack of maintenance of embankments and south Bihar is suffering from recurrent drought because of lack of irrigation.
3. Nitish Kumar organized an international seminar to measure poverty in Bihar, but in five years the BPL list could not be set right. As a result millions of the poorest people in Bihar remain deprived of all the benefits that are meant for the BPL population even as many undeserving elements continue to corner BPL benefits. According to the latest UNDP Human Development report, poverty in Bihar is estimated to be as high as 80% and yet Bihar has the worst BPL muddle leading to wholesale exclusion of the poor from the BPL and BPL- based benefits.
4. The Justice DP Wadhwa committee set up by the Supreme Court to probe the state of the public distribution system in the country has found the Bihar State Food and Supply Corporation as the most corrupt and inefficient in the country. The Supreme Court panel on starvation deaths has identified as many as 150 cases of starvation death in the state even as the state government refuses to acknowledge even a single case of starvation death.
5. On the MNREGA front, Bihar’s performance has remained pretty dismal. Number of job cards issued has reached nearly 1.25 crore, but the government record would like us to believe that only a third of them demanded jobs. The government claims to have provided jobs to all applicants, but in terms of work given (persondays), the ratio has actually come down from 35.34% in 2006-07 to 27.54% in 2009-10. If the proportion is calculated relative to the number of job cards issued, the figure will be as low as 9% in 2009-10. Yet hardly any worker has been paid unemployment allowance for the state’s failure to provide 100 days’ employment. And it is well known that these are inflated figures boosted by false payment for fictitious work while real figures of employment and wages received by actual workers on the ground will be much less.
6. In the name of promoting investment, the government hosted a much publicized Global Meet in Patna, engaged UK and US-based agencies for expert advice and followed the instructions of imperialist-dominated institutions like the World Bank. But Bihar has witnessed no spurt in investment in all these five years, closed mills have not reopened norhas any single new factory been set up. Can there ever be industrialization without power and without tapping Bihar’s own idle savings and wealth and turning it into productive 7. investment?
The government had promised to stop outmigration from Bihar and invited educated Bihari youth outside Bihar to return to the state and get enrolled as teachers. But the government has virtually stopped recruiting permanent employees, almost the entire volume of recruitment is on contract basis on wages or ‘honorarium’ that are way below minimum wages and the payment of even such abysmally low wages is highly irregular. Even getting an employment in Bihar police has become a near-impossible dream for the Bihari youth, for the government has begun recruiting retired Army jawans as Special Auxiliary Police. No wonder outmigration from Bihar is growing unabated and after Northern and Western India, young people are now compelled to migrate to southern states like Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu in search of work.
8. In February 2008, the government released a road map on agricultural development, but for most of Nitish Kumar’s five years agriculture growth rate has been negative, and 2009- 10 has witnessed a record decline of 17%. The “road map” had promised to make the people directly involved in agriculture, and not land-ownership, the point of departure for agricultural development. But the government now refuses to extend agricultural credit, crop insurance and compensation, and diesel and seed subsidies, to the millions of tenants/ sharecroppers who lease in land for cultivation and bear all associated risks, reserving all assistance and benefits only for landowners even they are absentee owners not engaged in agriculture.
9. The government had set up a Land Reforms Commission under the chairmanship of noted land reforms expert D Bandyopadhyay. The commission submitted its complete report along with concrete recommendations to the government in April 2008, but the government developed cold feet in the face of feudal threats and put the report in cold storage. In fact, the government did not even bother to translate and circulate the report in Hindi. While the feudal-bureaucratic nexus is busy spreading disinformation and stalling the agenda, people fighting for land reforms are being harassed and suppressed and many are being sought to be evicted on the ground and deprived of their hard won gains and rights.
10. The government had also set up a Commission on Common School System under the leadership of Muchkund Dubey and the commission came up with a path-breaking report with a concrete blueprint for providing quality education to all. But instead of acting upon the Commission’s recommendations regarding expansion of the school network and recruitment of more than 700,000 teachers to ensure education for all, the government decided to recruit only contract teachers, thereby creating discrimination between both teachers – permanent teachers with job security and higher salary and contract teachers facing insecurity, indignity and sub-minimum wages as well as students – students from upper-middle class getting expensive but quality education, and students from poor and modest economic background being driven away from higher education through privatization and commercialization. Instead of opening schools, the government chose to11. promote a wide network of liquor shops down to every panchayat.
The government introduced a distinction among dalits by creating a new category of mahadalits, initially comprising 18 out of 22 dalit sub-castes, but subsequently the distinction was virtually rendered meaningless when only Paswans were excluded from mahadalits. But while dalits got a new title, they did not get any of their basic rights concerning land, shelter, education and employment. While the Land Reform Commission recommended 10 cents of homestead land, the government initially talked of giving 4 cents and then 3 cents and then merely Rs. 20,000 as a land grant! And not even 10,000 mahadalit families have actually got this grant. The handful of mahadalit youth recruited on contract basis in different schemes continues to face discrimination and deprivation, with funds being looted and workers denied their due wages. The whole mahadalit exercise appears only a divisive feudal ploy to divide and confuse dalits and play with their votes and rights.
12. The government made a rule to submit expenditure accounts within six months of withdrawal of funds from the treasury, but the CAG report tells us that non-submission of bills, or submission of false and fictitious bills, has become the norm. Between April 2002 and March 2009, only 5,806 DC bills were submitted against 58,477 AC withdrawals – roughly 10 DC bills against every 100 AC withdrawals – with unaccounted or unadjusted withdrawals adding up to a staggering Rs. 13,230.39 crore! And Opposition MLAs were suspended from and hounded out of the Assembly for demanding the Chief Minister’s resignation and a CBI probe into this treasury fraud.
13. Nitish Kumar’s ‘Janata Darbars’ proved an insult for helpless people seeking official attention from a callous bureaucratic administration and insensitive government. While the Chief Minister who claims to be a product of a movement never showed the minimum courtesy of meeting a movement delegation, protest demonstrations of para-teachers or ASHA/Anganwadi workers and almost all sections of the people in the capital met routinely with brutal lathicharges and police repression. Even students protesting against the killing of Bihari youth in Maharashtra were implicated and jailed and many are still being harassed.
14. Nitish Kumar was the first leader in Bihar to join hands with the BJP after the latter had been thoroughly isolated in the wake of the dastardly demolition of the Babri Masjid. When thousands of Muslims were killed in the course of the Gujarat genocide in 2002, Nitish Kumar was a minister in the NDA cabinet in Delhi and he made no protests. As a partner in the ruling combine, the BJP has been vigorously pursuing its feudal-communal politics
in Bihar (obstructing land reforms and stalling the setting up of AMU campus in Kisanganj, to cite just two instances). But today he wants to deceive the people of Bihar by returning the flood relief contribution received from Gujarat. He would love to project himself as a champion of Muslim welfare, but has done nothing to implement the recommendations of Sachchar Committee and Ranganath Mishra Commission to improve the conditions of the biggest minority community in Bihar.
15. Nitish Kumar talks of Special Category status for Bihar without ever spelling out what he means by it and what he is exactly doing about it apart from making empty noise. Thefact is when Bihar was bifurcated ten years ago during the NDA rule at the Centre, Nitish Kumar was a cabinet minister and that was the best time when he could and should have compelled the NDA government to grant whatever special status he is now suggesting for post-bifurcation Bihar. Of course, the RJD and the Congress who were in power in Bihar at the time of bifurcation and later also at the Centre, are equally guilty of ignoring Bihar’s valid case for special treatment.
The RJD Camp: Old Wine in Old Bottle
The RJD has this time formed an alliance with the LJP – the two parties that were at loggerheads five years ago now claim to be together. It is not difficult to understand the political compulsion underlying this new combination, but may we ask Lalu Prasad what lessons he has learnt from his tenure of fifteen long years and what new he has got to offer that he has not already gifted to the people during his protracted tenure?
More than recollecting the pain of the RJD’s previous tenure, it is important to look at the party’s current policies and priorities. Lalu Prasad talks of a new-look RJD, and look at the kind of faces he is relying on for this purpose. In last year’s Lok Sabha election, an RJD nominee had won the Maharajganj seat by defeating the notorious JD(U) leader Prabhunath Singh. But now that Prabhunath Singh has emerged as one of the loudest feudal voices against land reforms and rights for tenants, Lalu Prasad has made him a key leader of the ‘new-look’ RJD!
In the wake of the Laxmanpur Bathe massacre, it was the RJD government which had been forced to institute the Amir Das Commission to probe the political links of Ranvir Sena and unmask its political patrons. Yet when Nitish Kumar disbanded the Amir Das Commission, Lalu Prasad kept quiet and uttered not a word of protest.
In Bihar, the RJD misses no opportunity to shout against price-rise, but on 27 April, the very day when Bihar and much of India observed a Bharat Bandh against rising prices, a bandh which was sponsored by the RJD among other parties, Lalu Prasad and his fellow RJD MPs refused in Parliament to vote for the cut motion against the UPA’s inflationary budget. And then instead of fighting for a rise in MNREGA wages, Lalu Prasad took the lead to press for a four-fold increase in the salaries and allowances of Members of Parliament as though MPs are the worst victims of price- rise!
Time was when Lalu Prasad used to talk of becoming the PM of this country, but today he becomes a mock PM in Parliament only for the sake of raising his own salary. When 77% Indians live on a daily budget of less than Rs. 20, when the poor are dying of starvation and contract employees are getting only a pittance, our self-proclaimed champions of social justice can think of nothing else but raising their own salaries. What will such self-serving leaders do for the deprived people of Bihar even if they get another opportunity?
The Congress: Charming Phrases, Zero Action
If Lalu Prasad is seeking to restore his rule, the Congress too is desperate for a revival of its lost ground. Rahul Gandhi talks of infusing new blood in the party, but the Congress in Bihar today has become a haven for turncoats from all other parties.
The Congress crown prince tells everybody that the funds he is despatching from Delhi are not being allowed to reach the deserving beneficiaries, and to ensure a free flow of funds to Bihar villages, the Congress would have to be brought back to power. He should know that the funds released by the Centre do not belong to the Congress party but to the people, and secondly, the politician-middleman-bureaucrat nexus appropriating the lion’s share of these funds is as much characteristic of Congress-led governments as of any other government!
Before bragging about central funds and pretending to be the saviour of the poor, should not Rahul Gandhi tell his audience why the Congress government at the Centre is refusing to honour the Supreme Court directive to distribute foodgrains free of cost among the starving poor? Bihar, where more than 80% people live in poverty according to the latest UNDP report, which has been suffering continually from droughts and floods and where hunger has claimed some 150 lives in the last five years, surely has every right to know.
Before promising security and dignity for the migrant Bihari worker, should not Rahul Gandhi tell us why the Congress governments at the Centre and in Delhi are presiding over the Rs. 70,000 crore extravaganza in the name of the Commonwealth Games (the Supreme Court too slammed the government on this score on 29 September, 2010), diverting even Rs. 650 crore of dalit welfare funds, while Bihari workers engaged in CWG-related construction work are subjected to sub- human living, hazardous working conditions and abysmally low wages? Why in Congress-ruled Maharashtra, Raj Thackeray’s MNS is allowed to humiliate, harass and attack Bihari workers and youth with impunity while the Congress strikes electoral deals with the same MNS? Why Delhi’s Congress Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit insults Biharis by saying the image of New Delhi is sullied by migrants from Bihar and UP?
Rahul Gandhi and his trumpet-blowers keep telling us that a resurgent Congress is the best bet for justice and welfare for the deprived and insecure Muslim community in the country. Do not they first owe an answer as to why innocent Muslim students are getting killed in fake encounters in Congress-ruled Delhi and the champions of justice refuse even to order a judicial probe? Why Muslim youth all over the country are being harassed and humiliated in the name of suspected links with terrorism? Why the government that set up the Sachar Committee and Ranganath Mishra Commission is shying away from implementing their recommendations?
The Congress would like the youth to accept Rahul Gandhi as a symbol of youth power. What was this symbol doing when young people from Bihar were being hounded out of Maharashtra? Why does he have not a word for the Kashmiri students and youth who are being gunned down by the dozen for daring to come out on the streets in protest against repression? What prevents him from reversing the policies of privatisation and commercialisation that are denying millions of young Indians the chance to get higher education and secure employment with fair wages?
The CPI(ML): New Road for New Bihar
Over the last sixty years, Bihar has seen forty years of Congress rule and twenty years of rule by forces tracing their roots in the 1974 movement and swearing by the slogan of social justice. Thesocial equation of political power in Bihar has certainly changed from the Congress era to the post- Congress phase of RJD or JDU rule. But there has hardly been any change either in the priorities and policies of the rulers or in the economic conditions in which the overwhelming majority of people are compelled to live. Beyond tinkering with the surface appearance, the rulers have refused to risk any change in the basic underlying reality. Both inside Bihar and on the national level, there has been a consensus among the rulers over treating and exploiting Bihar as the source of cheap labour permanently deprived of social dignity and development opportunity.
Today all these three camps of erstwhile and current rulers of Bihar are trying to strengthen themselves by engineering mutual defections, and the ease with which leaders are overnight changing sides also points to the essential commonness of the three camps. Corruption has certainly emerged as a major leveller for the three sets of rulers, but what stands out as the most decisive common thread of all three despite obvious differences in caste composition is the continued feudal domination, the refusal of all these governments to implement even a modest agenda of land reforms. Once again we can see feudal forces cutting across political divisions desperately trying to kill the agenda of land reforms and tenancy rights and the three camps forging a conspiratorial consensus to appease the feudal forces.
The CPI(ML) has always stood in opposition to these ruling camps and their politics of suppressing the people and denying them their democratic due in terms of dignity and development. For the last twenty years, CPI(ML) legislators have worked consistently inside the Bihar Assembly as the most fearless, consistent and committed voice of democracy, justice, dignity and people- oriented development. During the last Assembly session of Nitish Kumar’s term, four of our MLAs along with many other Opposition MLAs were manhandled and suspended from the Assembly for demanding the Chief Minister’s resignation and CBI probe into the treasury fraud. It is a matter of pride and satisfaction for us that our MLAs have upheld the trust reposed by the electorate to resist every instance of corruption and autocracy, loot and deceit on the part of the powers that be.
Bihar knows it very well that if the oppressed poor have succeeded in achieving a degree of recognition and rights by pushing back the forces of feudal-kulak violence, it is primarily because of the fighting unity of the toiling masses and CPI(ML) represents the most glorious and credible banner of that popular assertion. From basic social dignity to fundamental right to vote – nothing has been achieved without heroic struggle and supreme sacrifices and the CPI(ML) has its firm roots in this history and tradition of revolutionary awakening of the most oppressed people.
Today, whatever relief the rural poor have secured despite the state-sponsored muddle in BPL, PDS and MNREGA, is attributable not to any magnanimity of our rulers or generosity of the system, but primarily to the people’s own awareness and activism, and the CPI(ML) has always championed this awareness and activism defying heavy repression and a wrathful administration.
Indeed, but for the CPI(ML)’s sustained intervention in the Assembly and outside, the recommendations of the Land reform Commission would never have been made public. The issue of land reforms and tenancy rights is central to any real agenda of development in Bihar which remains predominantly rural and agrarian. One cannot think of a growth trajectory for Bihar bypassing the agrarian base. And agriculture in Bihar cannot develop without recognizing the rightsof the people who are most intimately involved in the work of cultivation.
There can be absolutely no ground for depriving Bihar’s millions of oral tenants from the benefits of agricultural credit, crop insurance, and diesel and seed subsidies simply because they do not happen to own the land they cultivate. In fact but for the involvement of the tenants/sharecroppers much of Bihar’s cultivable land would remain fallow. To develop agriculture, the state must therefore take urgent measures to empower and assist the tenants/sharecroppers along with landowning peasants and landless agricultural labourers.
Four-lane roads and luxury cars, high-rise apartments and glittery malls cannot be the metaphor or index of Bihar’s development – more than any other Indian state, the story of development in Bihar has to begin in the villages and with the predominantly agrarian rural poor. And the agenda of land reforms and tenancy rights constitutes the crucial key-link in this context.
Today, the political forces in Bihar are divided essentially into two camps – the feudal and pro- feudal camp that is making a desperate and conspiratorial attempt to stop land reforms, and the CPI(ML)-led camp of Left and progressive forces waging a determined battle for land reforms and agricultural development, for employment-generating growth and dignity of labour, for people’s rights and social progress. The CPI(ML) appeals to you to vote for CPI(ML) candidates and for other Left candidates where there are no CPI(ML) candidates and support and advance the agenda of land reforms and social transformation with all your might.
It is a welcome sign that Left forces in Bihar are now showing an increasing inclination for united struggles. Rejecting the ruinous course of alliances with the rulers, Left ranks are getting united to reclaim the fighting legacy of the Left. To strengthen the politics of change and justice, Bihar needs a powerful unity of Left and democratic forces. The communist movement apart, Bihar has also had a long tradition of socialist trends nurtured by stalwarts like JP and Karpoori Thakur. In their own ways, all of them had supported the cause of land reforms. But today those claiming to inherit their legacy are shying away from any notion of social change and justice for the working people.
We appeal to all sincere socialists and democratic activists of diverse trends to come together and join hands with the CPI(ML) and the Left as a whole to take Bihar forward towards land reforms and genuine welfare of the people and defeat the forces of corruption, nepotism, communalism, feudal reaction and autocracy. Let us reject the beaten track of conservative castepolitics and move along the bold course of change. Let us take the New Road to a New Bihar.
CPI(ML)’s Charter for the People of Bihar
Fight against Corruption: Corruption has become a major drag on development and it marks a serious denial of dignity and democracy for the poor. The CPI(ML) is therefore determined to wage a “zero-tolerance to corruption” campaign and insists on comprehensive probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation or other credible and competent agencies into all frauds unearthed by the CAG and other vigilance agencies to ensure that all officials, politicians and contractors/middlemen responsible for misappropriation and diversion of public funds and PDS loot are brought to book.
More often than not, corruption flows from the top and it is therefore particularly important to mete out stern punishment in every case of corruption in high places. The CPI(ML) demands that each Minister and any other politician holding the office of profit and each bureaucrat be legally mandated to publicly declare his/her assets that s/he possessed before s/he occupies the public position, and then at every six months interval during the period of holding such position, failing which the concerned minister/official should face automatic termination. Special courts in sufficient numbers must be created right from the state level down to district and subdivision levels to try corruption cases through speedy trials.
Democratic Rights and Democratic Debate: There can never be ‘good governance’ without accountability, democratic rights and serious democratic debates on policy issues. Successive governments in Bihar have systematically downgraded democracy by curtailing democratic rights and reducing the role of the State Assembly as a platform for serious policy debates. The CPI(ML) rejects this authoritarian subversion of democracy, feudal-bureaucratic style of governance and increasingly corrupt and opportunist political culture, and is determined to fight for democratic principles and rights in every sphere and promote serious public debate both within and outside the Assembly.
BPL: The latest UNDP report estimates the incidence of poverty in Bihar to be as high as 80%, but the BPL list in Bihar has become a tool for not only gross underestimation of poverty but also large-scale exclusion of the poor. The CPI(ML) will press for automatic inclusion of all agricultural and other rural labourers, small peasants and artisans, low-paid contract/unorganized workers, employees working on token honorarium in BPL category.
MNREGA: Immediate doubling of the current provisions to ensure 200 days of assured annual employment to two persons per family at a daily minimum wage of Rs. 200. Bihar has a very poor record of implementation of MNREGA. The government claims to have provided jobs to all applicants, but in terms of work given (persondays), the ratio has actually come down from 35.34% in 2006-06 to 27.54%. If the proportion is calculated relative to the number of jobcards issued, the figure will be as low as 9% in 2009-10. Yet the Bihar government has not paid unemployment allowance for failure to provide 100 days’ employment. While fighting for improving the provisions of MNREGA, the CPI(ML) will press for strict enforcement of all norms including prompt allocation of work and payment of wages, payment of unemployment allowance, childcare and other facilities for women workers, check on mechanization and middlemen in MNREGA projects and supervision through general body meetings of the beneficiaries.
PDS: Overhauling of PDS in compliance with Supreme Court food orders to ensure 50 kgs of food grains at Rs. 2 per kg and 5 litres of kerosene oil at Rs. 2 per litre to all food-deprived and low- income groups; expansion of commodity coverage under PDS to include all items of essential consumption including pulses, edible oil, soaps and detergents; replacing the present system of private dealership with a network of government-run ration shops in every panchayat.
Land Reforms and Tenancy Rights: The D Bandyopadhyay commission has made a modest set of proposals for land reforms and tenancy rights. CPI(ML) wants immediate and completeimplementation of all recommendations made by the commission including (i) standardization and strict enforcement of ceiling laws so as to provide 1 acre cultivable land to every landless family, (ii) provision of 10 cents of homestead land for the shelterless and regularization of all settlements of the poor and the oppressed, (iii) registration of all tenants/sharecroppers, regulation of rent and protection of the right to cultivate and extension of necessary assistance to tenants/sharecroppers to help them develop their agriculture.
Flood-control and Water Management: Recurrent floods are one of the topmost problems facing Bihar, but the root of this problem lies not so much in nature’s fury as in criminal negligence on the part of successive governments in Patna and Delhi. The Bihar government submitted proposals for plan assistance worth Rs. 17059.62 crore for flood control in the Eleventh Plan, but did precious little to implement its own proposals and follow even the standard precautionary measures. The result was the unprecedented Kosi disaster in 2008 – but while the government has now turned to the World Bank for more funds in the name of rehabilitation, the breaches in Gandak embankments this year clearly show the continued criminal negligence and callousness on the part of the Bihar government. All pressure must be exerted on the state and central governments for immediate implementation of short-term and longer-term measures for flood-control, water management and rehabilitation of flood victims.
Irrigation: Despite Bihar remaining primarily an agricultural economy, not more than 50 percent of the cultivable area is irrigated. This strikingly low figure is despite creation of higher irrigation potentials for irrigating about 70-80 percent cultivable area. The gap between potential and actual irrigation area is because of serious neglect of distributory and field channel system, decreasing carrying capacity in the canals because of siltation, and virtual collapse of the government-run tubewell system, to mention three major reasons. Thus, increasing coverage area of irrigation by strengthening the existing system for realizing its potential should be a major agenda of reform.
Modernisation of Sone canal and immediate completion of Kadwan reservoir project should be on top of Bihar’s irrigation priorities.
Lack of supply of power and rapidly increasing diesel prices have also proved major obstacles and Nitish Kumar’s promise of 4.64 million borewells has turned out to be completely bogus. If the government cannot guarantee assured power supply, it must consider providing free diesel for pump irrigation pumpsets. While neglecting the issue of maintenance, modernization and expansion of irrigation facilities, the government has been pursuing a strategy of privatization of irrigation, thereby further weakening the system and excluding the poor and middle peasants and tenants/sharecroppers from irrigation facilities. The CPI(ML) is determined to resist this course and fight for the peasant’s right to assured and affordable irrigation facilities.
Development of Agriculture and Allied Sectors: Development of agriculture and allied sectors including horticulture, animal husbandry, dairy, poultry and fisheries remains central to any notion of meaningful economic development in Bihar. Apart from guaranteeing thorough-going land reforms and increased public investment in agriculture and allied sectors, the state and central governments must be compelled to extend comprehensive assistance to the agricultural and allied population. Cheap credit, assured power and water and timely supply of subsidized inputs,procurement centres at every panchayat, coldstorage facilities and veterinary hospitals at every block, pro-peasant agricultural research and extension service – these are some of the key demands of agriculture and rural livelihood, and no government can be allowed to abdicate its responsibility on this score.
Power and Electrification: Compared to the national average per capita annual consumption of electricity (613 units), Bihar lags way behind at 75 units. Under the Rajiv Gandhi Rural Electrification Scheme (RGGVY), Bihar was supposed to reach universal electrification by 2012, but by current estimates only 30% of Bihar villages have been covered till date. Among Bihar’s 1.26 crore rural households, only 6.5 lakh – a shocking 5.12% – are electrified. And in terms of supply, most of the ‘electrified’ areas receive very little and highly erratic power supply. Instead of taking urgent steps to improve power generation and rationalize the power distribution system by prioritizing sectors like agriculture, weaving, industry, education and healthcare, the government has only been desperate to dismantle the State Electricity Board and privatise the power sector. While opposing privatization, the CPI(ML) stresses rapid completion of ongoing power projects and also promotion of decentralized renewable energy to meet Bihar’s growing energy needs.
Road and Public Transport: While National and State Highways in Bihar show a degree of improvement, rural roads as well as roads inside district/subdivisional towns are still in very bad shape. Huge gap still exists in this sector seriously constraining the communication and marketing linkage between rural areas and the administrative locations, markets and towns and cities. Against a total of 82,958.63 kms of road network, still about 36,851.63 kms of roads, or 44.42 percent of roads, are kuccha as against 10 percent in Gujarat and 23 percent in Tamil Nadu. Bihar has low penetration of road network with only 77 km road length per 100 sq km, compared with 169 km in Orissa, 118 km in Tamil Nadu, and 97 km in Uttar Pradesh. What is worse, there is still virtually no public transport system in most parts of Bihar. While fighting for a comprehensive network of all-weather motorable roads, and optimum and transparent utilization of concerned resources, the CPI(ML) insists on a safe, affordable and effective public transportation system to take care of the growing communication needs of the people.
Healthcare: All shortages in public health infrastructure and staff strength, identified in the Bihar Programme Implementation Plan (PIP) of NRHM and other recent surveys, must be filled up on war-footing. One Community Health Centre (CHC) should be set up in every panchayat and one 50- bedded hospital for every 30 km radius, assured supply of medicines for all sub-centres, PHCs and CHCs. Bihar needs at least 3 AIIMS-style super-specialities, and at least one medical college for each district.
Safe Drinking Water, Hygiene and Sanitation: Free and universal access to safe drinking water and sanitation has been recognized by the UN as a basic human right. The Bihar government must take urgent steps to guarantee this right and stop the growing privatization and commercialization of water. Building community toilets in every village, cleaning up all water bodies and freeing drinking water from dangerous effluents and chemicals, and adopting effective measures for water harvesting to stop the falling level of groundwater must be taken up as a priority.
Literacy and Education: Bihar’s record on the literacy front is still lagging behind most states in India with the literacy rate among dalits being as low as 28.47% (only 15.58% among dalit women). Rapid and sustained improvement on literacy and education front is crucial for Bihar’s overall progress. In this regard, the CPI(ML) insists on complete implementation of the recommendations made by the Commission on Common School System in its report submitted in June 2007 to ensure free and compulsory education for all within the 6-14 years age-group.
As visualized by the CSS commission, Bihar will need nearly 60,000 additional schools – another 26,000 primary schools, 15,500 middle schools and 19,000 senior secondary schools, and raise the strength of teachers from 3.72 lakhs in 2007-08 to 11.2 lakhs by 2012-13 and 15.28 lakhs by 2016-17. The Nitish government’s policy of recruiting teachers on contract/honorarium basis runs completely contrary to this vision – this policy must be scrapped and teachers must be provided job security and adequate training to improve the quality of teaching. The CPI(ML) also calls for regularization and upgradation of Madarsas and Sanskrit Vidyalayas according to this framework .
Industrialisation: The Nitish model of organizing glamorous “Global Meets”, wooing of corporate capital and looking to foreign agencies like DFID of UK, USAID and World Bank for promotion of industrial investment in Bihar has been a complete failure. The CPI(ML) calls for greater conversion of savings accumulated in Bihar into investment by ensuring a higher credit-deposit ratio by nationalized banks, and a special package to ensure reopening of closed mills, revival of sick units in the public sector and promotion of employment-intensive agro-based and other small- and medium-scale industries.
Urban Development: Bihar is the least urbanized among all Indian states and yet the government’s vision of urban development is limited only to Patna. The CPI(ML) stands for rapid development of urban infrastructure and urgent provision of civic amenities in all district and subdivisional headquarters. The party will also press for restoration of urban land ceiling norms to curb speculative real estate deals and the consequent rise of real estate barons and land sharks.
Land Acquisition: Like in many other parts of the country, of late Bihar is also witnessing a land acquisition spree in the name of widening of roads, setting up of plants and all kinds of construction activities. The CPI(ML) is opposed to any forcible acquisition of land leading to displacement and dispossession of people without informed consent and adequate compensation and resettlement.
As a policy, the government should make utmost effort to avoid acquiring cultivable land and displacing/disturbing existing settlements. As far as the demand of land for industrial purposes, against a total land of 4330 acres involved in different industrial areas, even till date about 880 acres are lying vacant. Additionally, a careful scrutiny of sick and closed units can identify which are beyond any possibility of revival, and land occupied by such units can also be freed to make that available to new units.
Mining: While most mineral resources of undivided Bihar are now in Jharkhand, Bihar continues to have heavy amount of sand- and stone-mining activities. Much of this mining is unregulated and operated and controlled by the criminal-bureaucrat-politician nexus. The CPI(ML) calls for regulation of this economy to ensure a better deal for the workers and the common people involved and protection of the environment.
Disaster Management: Bihar suffers from a recurrent cycle of floods, droughts and other disasters and yet disaster management remains one of the neglected areas of governance. In terms of both planning and preparedness and execution of relief and rehabilitation – the official response continues to be most lethargic and irresponsible. Construction of elevated roads and elevated platforms in flood-prone areas, safe storage of foodgrains, flood-resistant housing models, provision of fire brigades at every block, and district-level disaster-management planning and availability of trained personnel for prompt execution of such plans – these are certain basic measures that every government must guarantee.
Panchayati Raj: Introduction of party-based elections in panchayats and election of mukhia on the basis of majority support among elected ward members as in panchayat samitis and zila parishads; provision of regular salary and allowance for all elected people’s representatives in different panchayati raj institutions; giving more powers to panchayats regarding local planning and implementation and ending bureaucratic interference in panchayat functioningCooperatives: Bihar needs a vibrant network of broad-based and democratically functioning cooperatives to service the multiple needs of agriculture and allied sectors, handicrafts and small industries. To this end, the existing cooperative rules should be amended to facilitate mass membership and democratic participation and supervision in various cooperatives and free them from the clutches of bureaucratic domination and mafia control. The government is transferring the agricultural marketing sector to private hands – the CPI(ML) opposes this policy of privatization, and calls for development of agricultural marketing – for both supply of inputs and procurement of crops and marketing of artisanal production – through a network of cooperatives down to every panchayat.
Teachers: Implementation of recommendations of the Common School System commission; regularization of all teachers and ending the practice of contract/casual employment in posts of permanent nature; guarantee of time-bound promotion and pension benefits for all teachers; strict implementation of the Patna HC directives on filling the teacher vacancies in schools; Sixth Pay Commission parity in the salaries of all school and college teachers and mandatory housing quarters for all government school and college teachers; treating teachers in primary/secondary schools at par with their counterparts in colleges/universities in regard to their right to vote and contest in MLC elections; just settlement of the longstanding issue of teachers in unaided schools and colleges, and extension of all essential facilities to such unaided but otherwise functional educational institutions.
Government Employees: Democratisation of the Bihar State Government Servant Conduct Rules to guarantee full democratic rights, including the right to strike, for government employees and teachers; immediate filling up of all vacant posts in government departments; revival of all government and semi-government undertakings with immediate payment of all accumulated wage- arrears; regularization of all employees employed on contract/honorarium/casual/daily basis; parity with central government employees in terms of pay scales, allowances, promotion, pensions and other benefits; comprehensive enforcement of all past agreements and court orders upholding the rights of employees.
Unorganised Workers: Minimum wages in Bihar should be revised immediately in parity with the minimum norms prescribed by the Sixth Pay Commission for government employees. Welfare boards must immediately be constituted in different industries/occupations to ensure housing, healthcare, education and pension benefits for unorganized workers and their families including agricultural labourers, and adequate compensation for all accident victims. The government must issue proper identity cards to all unorganized workers to save them from administrative harassment.
Women: Free education for girl students at all levels; 33% job reservation for women in all spheres; regularization of women engaged in ASHA, Anganwadi, Mamata and Midday Meal schemes; provision of working women’s hostel facilities in every district/subdivisional town; compliance with relevant Supreme Court guidelines and central/state legislations and initiation of necessary new legislative measures to save women from sexual harassment in workplaces and from domestic violence and other anti-women crimes, separate cells or helpline for women in every institution that deals with the public. The Centre and State should jointly guarantee a credit of Rs. 50,000 on demand to any individual woman without collateral at an interest rate of 2 per cent per annum. The interest on SHG loans should also be brought down to not more than 4 per cent per annum.
Senior Citizens: All senior citizens in low-income families should get a minimum monthly pension of Rs. 1,000 and free healthcare facilities, provision of old-age homes and special care centres in every block to take care of old people without any family support.
Children: To abolish child labour in all forms and provide all children up to 14 years of age with free and compulsory education, the Common School System commission in its June 2008 report suggested a set of concrete measures such as supplementing the income of families of child labourers or street children by at least Rs. 1,000 per month apart from taking full care of all needs of such children to ensure their enrolment and retention in schools. We call for a survey of all child labour and street children in Bihar and demand their urgent rehabilitation according to the norms prescribed by the CSS Commission.
Students: Education in Bihar is reeling under the combined assault of privatization, rampant commercialization, systemic neglect and declining standard, forcing more and more students to migrate in search of quality education. Unregulated coaching institutions and private colleges are mushrooming in the state and students are being forced to pay exorbitant fees for the so-called job- oriented courses that no longer guarantee any jobs. The CPI(ML) calls for reversal of this trend, regulation of coaching institutions, reduction of fees and special scholarships for students from low-income families. All vacancies in colleges/universities must be filled up immediately to enable existing institutions to function efficiently. Patna, Muzaffarpur and Bhagalpur universities should be upgraded to central universities, and the proposed branch of Aligarh Muslim University opened without any delay. Apart from setting up an IIM chapter in Patna, the state should take initiative to ensure affordable quality courses in IT, engineering and medical education in Patna and all major urban centres and provide ample hostel facilities for students. College and university students must have their full democratic rights to elect representative student unions.
Youth: Provision of monthly unemployment allowance of Rs. 1,000 for every unemployed youth not getting any employment within six months after registration with state employment exchange; holding of railway and other national-level recruitment examinations for Bihar-based applicants at centres inside Bihar; construction of youth hostels in district/subdivisional towns.
Urban Poor: Most Nagar Panchayats in Bihar, though formally considered urban, have a socio- economic profile that is still predominantly rural; yet the poor in these areas are deprived of the BPL schemes available for rural areas. The same benefits should therefore accrue to the BPL population in Nagar Panchayat areas. Likewise, there should also be dedicated housing scheme and adequate civic amenities for the urban poor in bigger towns.
Street Vendors and Small Traders: All street vendors in Bihar should be provided with proper licence and identity cards and protected from harassment by the police, officials or money- extorting goons. The CPI(ML) is also committed to the defence of small retail traders against extortion threats, other criminal offences, harassment by police and bureaucracy and heavy taxation.
Looms, Handicrafts and Artisans: There should be a special scheme of assistance for handicrafts and artisans. The Bihar government should organize relief for the weavers of Bhagalpur to protect the famous Bhagalpur silk and tussar from the impact of the global crisis and to curb cheaper Chinese fake products. Assured 12-hour power supply should be guaranteed to all powerloom clusters in Bhagalpur as well as in Biharsharief, woolen weaving in Nalanda, cotton powerlooms in Gaya, Nawada, Madhubani, Banka, Purnea and other centres in the state. The Weavers’ Service Centre in Bhagalpur should be upgraded to an Export Promotion Council/Centre and National Institute of Fashion Technology/Design branches should be set up in Bhagalpur and other prominent weaving centres, mainly to cater to the children from the families of weavers. Madhubani painters and artisans producing famous wall-hangings with Madhubani painting designs also need similar institutional support. The central and state governments should extend a one-time grant of Rs. 1 lakh to all artisans.
Housing: 10 cents of homestead land as recommended by the D Bandyopadhyay Commission, a proper housing scheme for both rural and urban poor, minimum housing grant of Rs. 200,000 and cheap housing loan at 2% interest for low-income groups
Welfare and Rights of Muslim Community: The NDA government in Bihar pretends to be a great champion of Muslim welfare. It set up yet another commission on Bhagalpur riots, but only an interim report was submitted and while the committee recommended higher compensations on the lines of the 1984 victims of anti-Sikh pogrom, the number of victims was drastically reduced and the enhanced compensation/rehabilitation is yet to be effected. The CPI(ML) demands proper compensations and pension for all victims of Bhagalpur riot and similar compensation and pension for riot victims in other areas like Sitamarhi, Biharsharief and Nawada. Funds meant for Muslim welfare are also lying unused - last two years (2008-09 and 2009-10) saw some 25% funds (more than Rs. 60 crore) remain unspent. The CPI(ML) calls for effective implementation of the recommendations of Sachar Committee and Ranganath Mishra commission and time-boundexecution of the ongoing multi-sector development programmes not only in Bihar’s seven minority concentration districts but also to minority concentration blocks in other districts, with special emphasis on the community’s education, healthcare and employment needs.
SC/ST and Reservation: A commission should be set up to investigate deprivation and discrimination against SCs-STs in all spheres and to propose remedial measures covering all sections of dalits and adivasi people; Tharus should be accorded ST reservation; dalit Christians and dalits among Bengali refugees should be recognized as SC; women should get 33% reservation in Assemblies and Parliament; job reservation for SC/ST in private sectorMigrant Workers: Bihari workers constitute one of the biggest contingents of inter-state migrant population in India and are known for their tremendous contribution to the development of agriculture, industry and the service sector in the relatively advanced areas. Yet of late Bihar workers and education- and job-seeking youth have been victims of chauvinistic violence in state after state. The Bihar government must set up a migrant workers’ protection and welfare authority, with offices in major centres of migration like Mumbai, Delhi, Ludhiana, Kolkata, Coimbatore, Bangalore, Surat etc.) so as to take up the cases of attacks, harassment/ill-treatment and violation of labour laws hurting Bihar migrant workers in States of outmigration, and establish a welfare fund to rehabilitate migrant workers displaced by economic crisis as in Dubai/Gulf, natural disasters like in Surat or terrorist/chauvinist attacks as in Mumbai, Manipur, Assam and Northeast or eviction due to urban beautification as in Delhi and Mumbai. Bihar Assembly should pass a resolution demanding a new stringent Central legislation in place of the present toothless Inter- State Migrant Workmen Act.
Rehabilitation of Victims of Massacres, Riots, Disasters and Displacement: Bihar has any number of families with deep scars of caste massacres, communal riots and state-promoted natural disasters. Yet successive governments have made only empty promises for the victim families – the record of Nitish Kumar government being one of the worst (disbanding of Amir Das Commission, politics of compensation with Bhagalpur riot victims, lack of compensation and rehabilitation measures for Kosi and other flood victims, lack of crop insurance and compensation in drought-affected areas). The CPI(ML) will fight for bringing all perpetrators of massacres and riots and officials guilty of inviting disasters to justice and provision of adequate compensation and rehabilitation measures for the victim families.
Prohibition: The department of prohibition has effectively been transformed by the Nitish government into the department of all-out promotion of liquor consumption. The CPI(ML) calls for urgent reversal of this ruinous trend and is determined to promote anti-liquor movement through popular mobilization.
RTI: In 2009, the Nitish Kumar government amended the Right to Information Act 2005, imposing unwarranted restrictions on the exercise of the right and limiting the concessions available for the BPL category. The CPI(ML) demands immediate withdrawal of these limiting provisions and unrestricted scope for the people to exercise their right to information so as to subject governance to greater transparency and accountability.
Languages and Culture: The state should uphold the right of every student to study his/her mother-tongue, if not receive education in mother-tongue. In this regard, the government must take urgent steps to recruit adequate number of Urdu and Bengali teachers. The CPI(ML) supports the demand for inclusion of Bhojpuri language in the Eighth Schedule. Along with Maithili and Bhojpuri, special measures should also be taken for the protection and development of regional languages like Angika, Bajjika and Maghi. The state government should set up a Bihar Film Development Corporation to promote film-making in Bihar, provide tax exemptions to local films and cash incentives to local talents, launch an NSD-type institution to help local talents in the field of theatre and a Sahitya Parishad to promote publication of literary works by emerging writers. There should also be several Regional Cultural Centres to foster the rich cultural traditional tradition in different parts of Bihar. Auditoria and cultural centres should be set up in all district headquarters as a tribute to eminent poets and writers like Nagarjun, Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, Phaniswarnath Renu and Gorakh Pandey.
Sports: Adoption of a sports policy to encourage rural sports, ensure availability of sports teachers and training facilities at every school and spot and groom budding talents at the grassroots level. There must be a properly built sports stadium in every block and a well-equipped sports complex in every district/subdivision headquarter.
Tourism: Tourism in Bihar is currently mostly confined to a few prominent Buddhist sites and places of religious pilgrimage. The tourism potential of Bihar in regard to places of historical importance and natural beauty remains largely untapped. The government of Bihar must come up with a comprehensive tourism development plan with due emphasis on development of tourism- related infrastructure for small-budget tourists.
Regardless of the composition of the next government, the CPI(ML) is determined to fight for this charter with all its might. Cast your valuable vote in favour of CPI(ML) candidates and strengthen the CPI(ML) for a better tomorrow in a changing Bihar.