Agenda for a New State

The following speech was delivered by Comrade Mahendra on the occasion of the Governor’s Maiden Address in the first-ever session of the Jharkhand Assembly on November 24, 2000

Mr. Speaker Sir, the Governor’s address that we are debating now is not just a ceremonial thing. After many decades, a number of new states have been born. How much prosperity our state will attain, how democratic it will become – this depends on all of us, those in the Ruling as well as in the Opposition benches. The address reflects many serious challenges. On page 2 of the address the honorable Governor says that it is our collective responsibility to create a new identity for the state, both socially and culturally, and develop it as one of the most prosperous states of the world. All this sounds excellent. But as we proceed to later pages, for instance, page nos. 12, 14 and 18, the language seems to be that of some powerless people. “This should be done, that should be done” — this must not be the language of a government. A government proclaims its firm determination to do something and puts forth a time-bound planning.
The basic flaw in the address is the fact that it does not tell us as to what will be the criterion of prosperity that is to be attained within 5 to 15 years in order to get ranked among prosperous states. Even after 10 years there would be scope for claims of prosperity and for a criticism of the same. The equality that is found in the Jharkhandi society is unparalleled in the world. But the foremost culture of power is favouritism. The mention of “impartiality” on page 18 is music to the ears. But I want to know why Mr. R.K. Srivastava is sitting here along with the Chief Minister and the Chief Secretary. I want to know what post Mr R.K. Srivastava is currently holding in this state, and under which notification? He is very close to the Chief Minister. If this is not favouritism, what else could it be?
The culture of power is sycophancy. The culture of a political party too has a slot for decadent culture. If you go around Ranchi town you will find a certain newspaper has put up more than 50 hoardings greeting the new government. Greetings are being painted over other concerns’ hoardings as well as well as on vehicles. This is really the height of sycophancy. Government officials pass through these areas and so does respected Dubeyji. To grab another’s property is a criminal offence. Many people must be facing cases for such offences. Press is fourth pillar of democracy; its subordination to the executive is really disgraceful.
People talk about extremism. What is its fountainhead? Go to any country, you will find that terrorism and extremism owe their rise to the decay of democratic institutions, when the outlets for expression get closed.
You did mention about Panchayat elections but that was just like an astrologer. No time limit has been fixed there. Mere proclamations will not work. There ought to be a specific mention that Panchayat elections will be completed by March 2001.
Large parts of the state are under the Fifth Schedule, where the gGovernor has special powers regarding backward and poor sections and tribal people. For centuries these tribals have been fighting for self-rule. But what have you given to them? Aliens’ rule. There are provisions of self-rule in the Fifth Schedule. Those provisions must be utilized. Bring blocks, subdivisions, and districts in the tribal-dominated areas under this schedule so that they may get their right to self-rule.
It is said in the address that power stations will be installed in the blocks and there will be an expansion of primary schools. I say whatever you propose to do, first fix a time limit to start the same. Nothing of that sort we find here. Exactly this has been the language of Laloo Prasad and the government in New Delhi. With all humility I would like to say: please express your resolve to open a minimum of 25 primary schools with two teachers each in every block every year, and teachers will not be supposed to do all sorts of miscellaneous jobs. Let teachers remain teachers only, don’t make them government slaves.
You have mentioned about development blocks and electrification, linking villages through roads. But all these things are without any specific objective and time limit. Everything depends on your whim. Fix a time frame for all these things. Don’t carry on things as they have already happened. Don’t make prophesies like Pundits. The government is no astrologer. It must speak about the present and must have a definite workplan for the future.
You have discussed about the anomalies in Bihar. I do agree on this score, but there is no mention of the fact in this address, that the restructuring of blocks and districts that had taken place was done under political pressure, and what steps are you plan to take to set right the anomalies that have cropped up in social life. You talk about a new culture but follow the pattern set by the old culture.
So that this government becomes a good government in this newly constituted state, it is essential that accountability be fixed for everything. The government must make policy declarations. Yesterday the chief minister said in the Assembly that he will talk to the extremists; but one finds no mention of that resolve in the address. In a political system, there must be dialogue with your opponents. However we find in newspapers that the police have put up a proposal to declare more districts as disturbed area. Sir, this is not an attitude of negotiations. It is a drama and please stop it.
Two more things are completely missing in the address and both are related to the common man. One of them is displacement and the other is eviction of weaker sections from their land.
The same people for whom the great sons of the soil, to whom we are paying tribute, sacrificed their lives are being driven out from their lands. There is no mention of all this in the Governor’s address. The government must look into the irregularities in the Chhota Nagpur Tenancy Act and Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act. There is no room for sharecroppers in the Acts. Most of the sharecroppers are Adivasis and Dalits. This is the only province in our country where a sharecropper gets only one-third of the produce whereas the landowner gets two-thirds. Whereas, as per the provisions of the law, the sharecropper must get two-thirds and only one-third will go to the landowner. The government must pay due attention to this fact.
The government has said that in case tribals are driven out of their lands, they will be given it back if they lodge a case. This is pleasant to hear. However, in reality most of the tribals don’t have pattas of their lands. Neither they can fight a case nor their lands will be restored to them. This is a novel way to usurp their land. Mr. Speaker Sir, it is my suggestion that the C.O. and D.C. together must bear the responsibility of listing such lands and lodge cases for those lands. If the land is not restored to Adivasis, the C.O. and the D.C. should be punished.
Mr. Speaker Sir, just for one seat, the government in New Delhi waived the total debt of Punjab government. Here we have 14 MPs. Therefore the house must propose that the Central government should waive all the debt of the state so that this state can start its work anew. The government of Jharkhand is supposed to represent poor peasants. We would like that the CM makes efforts to get all the debts of the state waived off by the Centre.