Right to decent burial still a dream for Sanampatti Dalits – The Hindu
Policy draft urges abolition of quotas in education – The Asian Age
The law is loaded against Dalits – The Hindu
SC panel asks UT Admn to file reply by November 23 – The Tribune
UP elections: Why a SP-BSP alliance may not be possible – The Economic Times
Govt asks SC to close proceedings against ex-CJI K G Balakrishnan – The Indian Express
The BJP’s Atrocities Act – Tehelka
Significant show by CPI(ML) in Bihar – The New Hind Times
Desh Deshantar – B R Ambedkar: Architect of the
Indian constitution or just a Dalit messiah?
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Right to decent burial still a dream for Sanampatti Dalits
MADURAI : For around 100 Dalit families of Sanampatti, a village along Madurai-Dindigul highway near Vadipatti, the right to a decent burial is still a distant dream as no land has been earmarked for them to use for burial and cremation.
While the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) asserted its ownership over a small patch of land outside the village along Vadipatti main road that was traditionally used by the Dalit families as burial ground, Madurai district administration is yet to provide an alternative land.
The Dalits, belonging to a particular sub-caste, are unwilling to use the common burial-cum-cremation ground inside the village, which is used by caste Hindus and a few Dalit families of other sub-castes.
“Caste Hindus say they have always used the burial ground outside the village and the tradition cannot be changed. The Dalits also do not want to use that place as it may affect the already fragile social harmony in the village,” said G. Seeni Raja, councillor of Vadipatti town panchayat representing Sanampatti (ward 15).
Though these Dalit families had been reportedly using the land along the Vadipatti main road as burial ground for generations, the issue started when Mr. Seeni Raja, a Dalit, prepared to provide some basic amenities at the place through the town panchayat a few months ago.
“We needed a hand pump to fetch water for performing the last rites and a shelter. As soon as the work was started, a person owning an adjacent piece of land petitioned revenue officials and intimated the NHAI,” he said.
The NHAI authorities stopped the work. On October 7, when A. Sangiliammal (60) belonging to the Dalit community died, the Dalit families staged a protest demanding a permanent solution. Police and revenue officials pacified them and allowed the body to be buried at the same place.
Acknowledging the need for a separate burial ground, an official from the Vadipatti town panchayat said that even underground telephone cables were running through the present burial site.
Vadipatti Tahsildar R. Thirumalai said that the government had identified a few places and a site would soon be finalised and provided to the Dalits.
The Asian Age
Policy draft urges abolition of quotas in education
Nov 18, 2015 – K.A. Dodhiya |
The draft report prepared by the state government under the National New Education Policy has recommended abolishing of reservations for SC/ST children in the education system by replacing it with financially weaker and educationally backward sections. Education activists have said that this is an attempt by the government to remove caste-based reservations from the education system and have written to the chief minister asking him to remove the recommendation from the draft and demanded the preparation of a new draft.
As per the draft report on ‘Enabling Inclusive Education — Education of the SCs, the STs, Minorities & Children with Special Needs’ (CSWN), on page 34 it is recommended “there should not be special schools for SC/ST because it will widen the social discrimination gap and all children should study and play together.”
According to activist Kishore Darak, “The recommendation is a direct attempt to discontinue caste-based reservations. It which will have a bad impact on children belonging to such families and hinder their educational progress and growth,” said Mr Darak. He further added that while the recommendation says that “there should be only two categories i.e. financially and educationally weaker section” the report has failed to define the word ‘educationally backward’ which is ambiguous and misleading and hence should be removed.
MLC Kapil Patil from the teachers’ constituency has also written to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis demanding that the draft report be scrapped as it was made by the consultation of a few education department officials and NGOs. “The draft has a lot of flaws and seems to be made hurriedly without giving though to the 25,908 villages in the state. The draft running into 44 pages has been prepared in five days it is incomplete. Also as it is in English there is a need to scrap the recommendations,” said Mr Patil.
The law is loaded against Dalits
State also fails in its responsibility by not going on appeal where there is an acquittal: Kathir
An in-depth study of Dalit murders in Tamil Nadu since 2010 has brought to the front discrepancies on the part of police while registering cases, examining witnesses, filing charge sheets and finally, not going on appeal when the cases end in acquittal.
‘Evidence,’ a human rights organisation, took 102 cases of Dalit murders reported in 2010-14 across the State and found that in 36 per cent cases, the police had not invoked provisions under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989. In 99 per cent cases, the police failed to file charge sheet within the stipulated time and in more than half of the incidents, the accused were not arrested as they got anticipatory bail.
Though 107 Dalits were murdered in Tamil Nadu in 2014, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data had documented only 43 cases, the organisation alleged. This was because the police had only registered cases under Section 302 (murder) of IPC and not invoked provisions of the Act.
Quoting Section 3 (2) (v) of the Act, ‘Evidence’ executive director A. Kathir said whoever, not being a member of the Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe, committed any offence punishable with imprisonment for a term of ten years or more (under IPC) against a person or property of a Dalit, the accused should also be booked under the Act which provided for punishment with imprisonment for life and with fine.
“A majority of Dalit murders is a result of conspiracy involving a group of people. In many cases, one person surrenders while others involved in the case get anticipatory bail. There is high rate of pendency and low rate of disposal of cases booked under the Act. The conviction rate is just 5-7 per cent. The State also fails in its responsibility by not going on appeal where there is an acquittal. On the contrary, the convicted persons go on appeal…,” Mr. Kathir pointed out.
Citing instances where witnesses turned hostile or complainants forced to withdraw their complaints, he said 73 of the 102 Dalits murdered in 2010-14 were coolies, 12 were employed in private firms and two in the government. Of the 27 women murdered, seven were sexually abused, he said.
The study involved several teams that toured the State and interacted with victims, their family members, advocates, police personnel and even the accused persons. The teams perused and took copies of over 5,500 documents that included complaints, First Information Report, post-mortem reports etc., Mr. Kathir added.
A senior police official on condition of anonymity said in cases that ended up in acquittal, going on appeal would not serve any purpose if the prosecution witness turned hostile during trial. In cases where a Dalit was among the accused, the police did not invoke provisions under the Act.
“Offences against Dalits are dealt with seriously and there are separate wings in the police department to monitor and review such cases. The trial is conducted in a special court for SC/ST cases. The Additional Director-General of Police (Social Justice and Human Rights) supervises investigation in each district that has a Deputy Superintendent of Police (Protection of Civil Rights) for the purpose,” the official said.
(This is the last of the three-part series on Dalit discrimination in Tamil Nadu)
SC panel asks UT Admn to file reply by November 23
Tribune News Service Chandigarh, November 17
The National Commission for Scheduled Castes has asked the UT Administration to submit a reply by November 23 on the application of the Chandigarh Dalits’ Welfare Association, seeking ‘adequate’ compensation for families of the three sewermen who died on duty in May this year.
Commission Chairman Raj Kumar Verka today met association members at New Delhi. The association had demanded adequate compensation for families of the sewermen. The civic body has paid Rs 2 lakh each as compensation to the victims’ families. However, the association had raised the issue of enhancing the compensation to Rs 10 lakh, citing a judgment passed by the Supreme Court.
The UT Administration had conducted a magisterial probe into the death of the sewermen. The report had held the contractor and the Municipal Corporation field staff responsible for their death. They died on May 30 after inhaling some toxic gas while cleaning a sewer line in the Industrial Area, Phase II.
The report stated that safety norms were not followed while carrying out the cleaning work. The report had also recommended safety norms to be followed in future.
The Municipal Corporation had blacklisted the firm, M/s Deol Engineering Works, which had carried out the cleaning work. The civic body had also suspended an MC employee, Sukh Raj, who was posted in the Public Health Department, as the firm was owned by his wife.
The Economic Times
UP elections: Why a SP-BSP alliance may not be possible
After the JD(U)-RJD-Congress grand alliance swept to power in Bihar, talk of other Mahagathbandhans is commonplace in states headed for assembly polls soon. Of these, the biggest will be Uttar Pradesh, with its 400 assembly and 80 Lok Sabha seats, where polls are due in 2017. Earlier this week, Akhilesh Yadav, the incumbent Samajwadi Party (SP) chief minister, proposed a Mahagathbandhan between his party and Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). He retracted quickly, saying this was his personal view and the final decision was up to his father and SP boss Mulayam Singh.
The arithmetic in favour of an SP-BSP alliance looks appealing. SP swept 2012 assembly polls with 224 seats, with BSP trailing with 80. But the huge gap in seats was derived on a thin, three-percentage-point lead between the SP’s 29 per cent vote share and the BSP’s. Together, they could win 55 per cent of votes, an overwhelming majority. Even the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, driven by the Narendra Modi BJP wave, saw the SP and BSP together mop up 42.3 per cent of votes, marginally behind BJP’s 43 per cent.
But an SP-BSP alliance is impossible. The SP, dominated by aggressive Yadavs, has been a tormentor of Dalits and some upper castes who support BSP. Unlike Akhilesh, who has demonstrated little administrative ability, Mayawati ran a tight ship during her tenure. After many attacks on Dalits and indifference to anti-Muslim atrocities in western UP, the SP stands exposed. Its minority base, a substantial 18 per cent of all voters in UP, is likely to shun it. It makes no sense for BSP to be associated with it. Mayawati can ally with the Congress, which could add another 10 percentage points or more to her 25 per cent vote share. This would not qualify as a ‘Maha’ alliance, but one with a better chance of sweeping UP in 2017.
The Indian Express
Govt asks SC to close proceedings
against ex-CJI K G Balakrishnan
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the Bench led by Justice Dipak Misra that after the income tax inquiry against the former CJI and his family “yielded nothing”, there should not be a fresh probe by the CBI or any other agency.
Written by Utkarsh Anand
New DelhiPublished:Nov 18, 2015, 0:50
Underlining that it may set a “dangerous precedent”, the government on Tuesday favoured closure of Supreme Court proceedings against former Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan over allegations of illicit monetary transactions and disproportionate assets.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the Bench led by Justice Dipak Misra that after the income tax inquiry against the former CJI and his family “yielded nothing”, there should not be a fresh probe by the CBI or any other agency.
“I-T assessments were done. There was undervaluation in some cases and enhanced taxes were paid. We cannot have investigation like this in such cases. Everybody will start making wild allegations. It will set a bad precedent…a dangerous precedent,” he said.
As first reported by The Indian Express in October 2013, the I-T inquiry into complaints that Balakrishnan and his family amassed assets disproportionate to their income during his tenure as the CJI between January 2007 and May 2010 had failed to produce any incriminating evidence to link their monetary transactions to cases pending in courts.
In its affidavit, the government had said it had referred the matter to the Ministry of Finance, Department of Revenue and Central Board of Direct Taxes, which gave a supplementary status note dated April 18, 2012 on income-tax investigations in which the allegations were found unsubstantiated.
Citing the outcome of this inquiry, Rohatgi Tuesday told the bench a CBI probe cannot be initiated now as it will set a bad precedent and will encourage “wild allegations” against a person whose reputation will be at stake.
Further, the PIL by NGO Common Cause, the law officer argued, had sought Balakrishnan’s removal as the chairperson of the NHRC, and hence the plea has become infructuous after the former CJI’s term ended.
The bench asked Rohatgi if the sources of income of Balakrishnan’s relatives had been examined. Rohatgi replied that the brother and sons-in-law of the former CJI were lawyers and their professional receipts had been examined and did not corroborate the charges.
The BJP’s Atrocities Act
Any attempt to address caste violence has always been an eyewash
“I do not believe that they have been doing this job just to sustain their livelihood. Had this been so, they would not have continued with this type of job generation after generation…. At some point of time, somebody must have got the enlightenment that it is their (Valmikis’) duty to work for the happiness of the entire society and the Gods; that they have to do this job bestowed upon them by Gods; and that this job of cleaning up should continue as an internal spiritual activity for centuries. It is impossible to believe that their ancestors did not have the choice of adopting any other work or business.”
– Narendra Modi in his book Karmayog, 2007
The first anniversary gift of the ruling Hindutva dispensation to the Dalits arrived in the month of May. Sagar Shejiwal, a Dalit student from Maharashtra was brutally murdered by a mob of upper-caste youth. His sin: Possessing a mobile ringtone praising the legendary Dalit icon and father of the Indian constitution, BR Ambedkar.
The last couple of months were a testimony to the fear that many harboured when Narendra Modi came to power. Not only were there predictions of continuous witch-hunting of Muslims over a period of five years, several political commentators fretted over an increase in caste violence. To their surprise, the Modi government, without much ado, fanned a climate ofintolerance within the span of a few months instead of stretching it over its five-year tenure. While the Muslim community was targetted relentlessly, the Dalits, already suffering under a deeply oppressive caste structure, have borne the brunt of the violence unleashed by Hindutva terror. “India is witnessing an unprecedented rise in crimes against Dalits since 2014,” says PL Puniya, chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC). “What is shocking is the barbaric nature of the crimes. Practices of untouchability and caste discrimination have changed in terms of their form and nature and these new tools of violence have been unleashed in such a way that the perpetrators feel that they have a newfound license to oppress.”
The statistics agree with Puniya’s observations. A cursory look at the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data reveals an alarming trend of growing caste violence. In 2014, the NCRB recorded an increase of 19.4 percent in total crimes committed against Dalits as compared to the previous year. Out of the 47,064 crimes committed against Dalits, 2,388 cases (5.07 percent) were rapes committed against Dalit women. Add to this the 2,346 cases of sexual assault, 837 cases of sexual harassment and 142 cases of assault, with intent to disrobe Dalit women.
While the statistics paint a grim picture, the shocking reality of the caste bias of the police is a story in itself. In 2014, the police only invoked the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities (POA) Act — a law that aims to prevent offences against Scheduled Castes and Tribes — in just 21.3 percent of the cases registered. With respect to the majority of cases, the police was careful to invoke relatively harmless provisions from the IPC. The judiciary too, is no different. At the end of 2014, 85.5 percent of the cases registered under the SC/ST POA Act were pending trial. A whopping 71.6 percent of them resulted in acquittals. “TheBJP’s march to Delhi gave right-wing upper caste forces more courage to unleash violence,” says an official in the NCSC. “The most brutal forms of violence were recorded in BJP ruled states such as Haryana, Rajasthan and Maharashtra in recent times. The conservative and highly problematic outlook of the rulers in these states is encouraging this violence.”
In Rajasthan and Haryana, when the newly elected BJP came to power, certain controversial amendments in the Panchayat Raj Act were initiated. One of the amendments, put forth by the Haryana government, stipulated five eligibility conditions for candidates contesting in the three-tier panchayat system. The conditions include the following: compulsory middle-school educational qualification; mandatory clearance of crop loans taken from banks, electricity bills and arrears; the candidate should not be charge-sheeted under sections of crimes involving 10 years imprisonment and the candidate should have a functional pucca toilet at their place of residence.
“The compulsory ‘middle-school pass’ criteria for Dalits is a subtle caste war,” says Jagmati Sangwan, general secretary, All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA). “According to the 2011 census, more than 80 percent of Dalit women cannot contest elections if this criteria is implemented. In the last couple of years, Haryana has witnessed several Dalit women becoming panchayat heads despite their lack of formal
Towards the fag end of the UPA government’s tenure, two ordinances — the Securities Laws (Amendment) Ordinance and the ordinance on prevention of atrocities on SCs and STs — attempting to put a check on the rising tide of caste atrocities, were promulgated in March 2014. As soon as the NDA government came into power, both ordinances were sufficiently diluted. While the Securities Laws Ordinance was converted into an Act of Parliament in the first budget session, to “protect the interests of investors and to ensure orderly development of the securities market”, the ordinance regarding atrocities on SCs and STs — which had path breaking provisions to ensure justice to India’s most exploited communities — was made to lapse, despite of severe criticism.
When civil society movements led by the National Coalition for Strengthening SCs & STs (POA) Act (NCSPA) raised issues regarding the government’s lackadaisical approach to the ordinance, the government was forced to place the Bill in the Lok Sabha. However, even after that, the bill was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment in order to further delay it. While the Committee chaired by BJP MP Ramesh Bais gave the green signal to the amendments and submitted its report by December 2014, the Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha only in August. The fate of the Act still hangs in the air since the Bill has not been placed in the Rajya Sabha yet.
“If the government and the political parties are serious about ending caste atrocities, they should take steps to pass the POA Amendment Bill in the Rajya Sabha,” says VA Rameshnathan, convener of the NCSPA. “The new Bill, along with provisions for exclusive special courts and exclusive public prosecutors, ensures speedy trial within two months. It also addresses hurdles such as the non-registration of cases, delays in investigation, arrests, filing charge-sheets, trial and providing relief and rehabilitation to victims. There are also provisions for providing security to victims and witnesses. Significantly, it also covers economic and social boycott, a less addressed issue with respect to caste.”
Leaving the Bill to an uncertain future, the Centre also reduced the budgetary allocation of the Special Central Assistance (SCA) — a fund meant for the implementation of the POA Act. In addition to this, if one takes into account the actual expenditure details from several states, the amount of money spent to implement the POA has been less than the budgeted amount.
Such fiscal policies shaped by neo-liberal interests must also be seen in the light of the current scenario. At a time when there is a steady rise in caste atrocities, the lack of sufficient exclusive special courts and prosecutors along with the shortage of funds for compensation and rehabilitation of victims of caste atrocities, suggests the need to speed up the process of ensuring justice to the Dalits.
Take for instance, the legal history of the 1997 Lakshmanpur Bathe massacre in Bihar. When 58 Dalits were killed by Ranvir Sena — the upper-caste landlord militia — the trial of the case went on for a period of 12 years. The case was transferred from court to court and several crucial witnesses turned hostile owing to political, social and institutional pressure. Finally, when the trial court came out with its verdict in 2010, the Patna High Court dismissed it on inane technical grounds.
In several instances, technical errors are introduced to ease the process of acquittals. As per the POA Act, atrocity cases cannot be investigated by an officer below the rank of the Deputy Superintendent of the Police (DSP). “In cases where perpetrators were well- connected, the police introduced technical mistakes while preparing the FIR,” says Rameshnathan. “If this strategy failed to work, the case would be investigated by an officer below the rank of a DSP. This would lead to the court to acquit the accused on technical grounds.”
More recently, in Sunpedh village in the Faridabad district of Haryana, the brutal killing of two infants stands as a testament to the inefficiency of the existing POA Act. According to a fact finding report by the National Dalit Movement for Justice (NDMJ), upper-caste Rajputs of the village were jealous of the economic stability of Jitender’s (father of the deceased infants) family. In a bid to suppress their growing assertion, the Rajputs had even boycotted the family to the extent that shopkeepers had refused to sell daily rations to them.
It was in the midst of these undercurrents that the infants of the family were burnt to death. And, disturbingly, this heinous act is not the extent of the caste violence, now the Rajputs are even forcing lawyers of the Faridabad court — who are largely Rajput themselves — to not take up the case.
In 2010, the Navsarjan trust, a Gujarat-based Dalit NGO, published a study titled Understanding Untouchability: A Comprehensive Study of Practices and Conditions in 1589 villages. The study identified 98 forms of untouchability practices in Gujarat. The findings established a few serious concerns.
Several Dalit families in Gujarat were forced to migrate from their villages as a result of social and economic boycott. In some cases, Dalits who refused to vote for the BJP were boycotted. In some others, Dalits who protested against the violence unleashed by development projects were also boycotted.
“Citing our study, the opposition raised questions on caste violence in the Assembly,” says Manjula Pradeep, executive director, Navsarjan. “Instead of engaging with it, the Gujarat government led by the then CM Narendra Modi, ridiculed the study and initiated the process of reviewing our report. Led by a team from the Centre of Environmental Planning and Technological (CEPT) University, the review concluded that caste violence and discrimination in Gujarat was “largely related to perceptions”. They also undermined serious forms of caste discrimination by calling them ‘rural traditions.” In the light of such reviews, it is unsurprising that as per the 2013 NCRB statistics, 98 percent of caste atrocity cases registered in Gujarat have resulted in acquittals.
In the run-up to the 2014 General Election, Modi, backed by a shrewd PR team, had pitched his OBC ‘ chaiwallah’ background as his ticket to victory. Drawing attention to his aam aadmi credentials, Modi played the caste-card to its hilt until he was elected to power. However, with the Bihar Assembly election around the corner, it is interesting to note that where Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad Yadav are identified as OBC leaders, Modi, an OBC himself, seems to have transcended his caste identity. It, therefore, comes as no surprise that the Prime Minister finds manual scavenging to be a ‘noble’ profession. By stating that it is a part of ‘internal spiritual unity’, the Modi-led NDA government is only here to stay, keeping caste hierarchies intact.
The New Hind Times
Significant show by CPI(ML) in Bihar
IF the Delhi mandate gave the first resounding rebuff to RSS and the Narendra Modi government, Bihar has now unfurled the banner of revolt. Describing the Bihar assembly results as a vote against divisive politics of communal hate and religious intolerance practiced by the BJP, would indeed be a too simplistic evaluation of the mandate. A closer look at the nature of the verdict shows that it was a protest against the policy of hegemony of the upper caste and landed gentry.
After a long 15 years, the CPI (ML) Liberation which went to the assembly elections as a part of the independent block of six Left parties, CPI (M), CPI, SUCI, RSP and Forward Block, won three seats. It won Balrampur, Darauli and Tarari. While the outcome of three seats marks only a modest improvement of the 2010 polls when the Left had managed to send only one member in the Assembly, this year’s combined vote share of nearly 4 per cent marks out the Left as the only potential third force in a bipolar Bihar.
Let us look at one specific development; the CPI( ML)-Liberation winning three seats that too in a ‘polarised’ Bihar elections. Amid the face-off between BJP-led NDA and the JD(U)-RJD- Congress ‘grand alliance’, the CPI(ML) succeeded in snatching these seats. CPI(ML) candidate from Darauli in West Bihar won by 13,000 votes, while in Balrampur CPI-ML has won by a margin of 22,000. Sudama Prasad wrested the Tarari seat from the wife of the JD(U) don, Sunil Pandey.
This victory points to the upsurge and assertion of the rights of the rural poor and proletariat. The party lost 22 seats by narrow margins. Obviously it implied that the poor people preferred the Liberations to JD(U) or RJD. Down the line it also reflects the emergence of the new political trend and line in Bihar. This victory is also significant for the reason that it has come in the backdrop of intense fight between the Mandal and Kamandal forces. The people of Bihar preferred to be identified with the political forces and leaders which represented their aspirations. Basically this was the reason that Bihar attracted the ominous identity of being the most caste ridden state.
While this win vindicates the core strength and developing potential of the Left, it also reinforces the fact that Bihar election was fought on the class line. The rural poor, landless labourers and scheduled castes had organised to oppose the policy of hegemony of the upper caste feudal lords who were contemplating to stage a comeback riding piggyback on the BJP. For last fifteen years the CPI(ML) could not win a single seat from Bhojpur notwithstanding carrying on sustained struggle in the district.
The victory of the CPI(ML) from Tarari in Bhojpur has many significant aspects. The CPI (ML) candidate Sudama Prasad defeated the NDA candidate by a margin of 296 votes. Primary reason being defeat of Indubhusan Singh, son of Barmeshwar Singh, the supreme commander of the landlord’s militia Ranavir Sena. Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh had fielded Indubhushan Singh, who now leads the organisation, as his party’s candidate. The ‘Mahagatbandhan’ had fielded Akhilesh Prasad Singh, former RJD MP and Union Minister, as a Congress nominee. Incidentally, Akhilesh at the funeral of Ranvir Sena chief Brahmeshwar Singh had referred to the architect of the massacres of Dalit and labourers as ‘a towering personality the likes of whom are born once in 100-200 years whose stature remains higher than any MP or MLA.’
The Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) of Ram Vilas Paswan had fielded Geeta Pandey, the wife of dreaded don Sunil Pandey, who had been the sitting MLA from Tarari, elected from the JDU. At Tarari all other candidates had connections with the Ranvir Sena. Once this seat was held by the architect of the Naxalite movement in Bihar Ram Naresh Ram but the party lost it in 2010. The CPI-ML win in Tarari is being viewed as renewal of its traditional stronghold in Bhojpur. Once the cradle of Naxalism in Bihar, Bhojpur has been witness to killings of the Dalits and the downtrodden in 1990s during Lalu-Rabri regime. Several ML grassroots workers had to sacrifice their lives in dozens of carnages.
In Bhojpur CPI(ML) leader Satish Yadav was killed just on the eve of the elections and three of CPI(ML)’s most prospective candidates agricultural labour leader Satyadeo Ram, who has won from Darauli in Siwan and Amarjeet Kushwaha and Manoj Manzil who finished close from Zeradei (Siwan) and Agiaon (Bhojpur) were arrested on fabricated charges at the time of filing their nomination.
Satyadev Ram (Darauli, Siwan), who defeated the BJP candidate by a margin of 10,000 votes, contested from jail. The CPI(ML) candidate from Ziradei, Amarjit Kushwaha is also in jail. Cases were slapped on them in 2013 during a struggle of Dalit landless labourers. BJP-backed landlords led by the local BJP MLA had fired on the Dalits. Mahboob Alam was elected from the Balrampur seat in Katihar district, defeating the BJP candidate by a margin of nearly 23000 votes.
The CPI(ML) candidates on 22 seats were the runners up. Obviously it pointed to the changing mood and emerging new political line in rural Bihar. One development is crystal clear defying the pressures as compulsions of a bipolar election and a massive wave in favour of the JDU-RJD-Congress alliance, the revolutionary communists not only defended their citadels of struggle but also identified with the emerging new political consciousness. The CPI had won Bachchwara seat in 2010 polls which the Left parties had contested separately. This time the CPI and CPI(M) failed to win even a single seat despite contesting as a united Left bloc.
The support of the rural poor, youth and increased participation of peasants and women gave the CPI(ML) campaign its strength and energy. What makes this victory truly memorable is the extremely unequal nature of the electoral battle and the inhospitable media environment. While the media projected the non-existent SP-NCP-Pappu Yadav coalition as the real ‘third front’, it ignored the Left bloc. Interestingly, the election results reveal that the third front has been a real non starter. Combined together they could not muster more than 1.5 per cent of the votes.
Rejuvenating the old base built through decades of struggles, which has turned dormant during the last decade following creeping in of certain ambiguity in the Left forces and particularly in the CPI(ML) after emergence of Lalu Yadav as the voice of the oppressed, and translating the Left’s undisputed credibility and goodwill in terms of pro-people politics into votes was indeed an arduous task that too in the present backdrop. But it was the division of the rural society on the class line and the CPI(ML) digging deep into its core strength that helped it win its three seats in the midst of this electoral storm.
News monitored by AMRESH & AJEET