Appeal for Solidarity with Bihar 's Battle for Democracy and Social Transformation

Let us Stand by the Fighting People of Bihar in the Ensuing Elections to the State Assembly

Bihar is going to the polls again. Successive previous governments, both central as well as state, have treated the state and its people with such utter contempt and systematic neglect that the rulers are now finding it increasingly difficult to manufacture a majority. The rulers in Delhi and Patna have condemned the state to acute economic backwardness and all-round anarchy. While workers and students are increasingly forced to leave Bihar in search of livelihood and education, corrupt leaders, bureaucrats and organized criminals are having a field day looting the resources of the state.

The people of Bihar , especially the radicalized rural poor, workers and large sections of the democratic intelligentsia, are however not prepared to accept this sordid state of affairs as their destiny. Bihar thus continues to witness huge popular mobilization in heroic battles for social transformation. No amount of feudal-criminal violence or state repression has succeeded in stopping the Bihari society's onward march for a new Bihar and a better tomorrow.

The results of the February 2005 elections reflected this urge of the people of Bihar . While not granting a majority to either of the two coalitions of the ruling elite - the NDA or the UPA, the electorate of Bihar chose the CPI(ML) as the biggest party of the Left, raising its tally from five to seven seats so as to further strengthen the battle for democracy and social transformation in the state.

It is significant that while the old Left parties - the CPI and the CPI(M) - have witnessed a steady erosion of their strength, a major reason being their uncritical association and identification with the thoroughly discredited RJD-Congress regime, the CPI(ML) has emerged as the most consistent and forceful voice of the poor even in the face of sustained feudal-criminal violence and state terror. This has forced some rethinking among other sections of the Left and in the aftermath of the February 2005 elections the CPI has decided to move away from the RJD-led camp.

While the ruling classes want to reduce the agenda of the forthcoming elections to Bihar Assembly to nothing more than an aggressive bidding among rival claimants for the chief minister's 'throne', the progressive democratic people of India want to see a stronger Left at the head of a more powerful battle for a new Bihar where words like democracy, dignity and development could acquire some real meaning for the deprived and oppressed people of the state. In order to realize this objective, progressive people all over the country must stand by the fighting people of Bihar in every possible way.

For the rural poor and the radical Left of Bihar, elections are an extremely unequal arena of battle. The constitutionally 'guaranteed' right to vote is still nullified in myriad ways and the Election Commission's fiats are only adding to the difficulty and discrimination faced by the rural poor. Activists who champion the cause of democratic rights and empowerment of the deprived and the disadvantaged have a great role to play to ensure that the people of Bihar are actually able to exercise their franchise. Journalists who cherish the freedom of the press and the right to information can do a lot to expose and challenge the feudal-criminal-administrative assaults on democracy and subject the institutions of governance to accountability. Literary and cultural activists can discover and transmit new waves of creative inspiration for social progress. And last but not the least, we can all chip in with financial support to generate the necessary funds for a powerful election campaign in Bihar .

All of us who want to see a progressive and prosperous India have a heavy stake in the future of Bihar and in strengthening the Left as a decisive force to challenge and defeat the politics and forces of oppression, loot and criminalisation. Let us all join hands with the fighting forces of Bihar . Let us all rise to the occasion.