PROFILES OF SOME CONSTITUENCIES
This constituency of Assam is composed of five assembly segments falling in two hill districts: Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills. The whole district of North Cachar Hills constitutes a single legislative constituency named Haflong and Karbi Anglong has four assembly segments: Diphu, Bokajan, Howraghat and Baithalangso.
In this constituency of North East the CPI(ML) has been conducting a novel experiment of leading a nationality struggle. This is the only tribal region of North East where the secessionist militancy gave way to democratic movement for autonomy in the 80s and Autonomous State Demand Committee (ASDC) formed by CPI(ML) won the Karbi Anglong District Council in 1988. The powerful movement for securing Autonomous State under Article 244-A of the Constitution in the hill districts of Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills made earned this constituency the distinction of being the first to send a tribal MP of revolutionary left stream. Present Central Committee member of CPI(ML) Comrade Jayanta Rongpi won this constituency in 1991 under the banner of Autonomous State Demand Committee (ASDC) polling 1,39,785 votes (47.13%) defeating the sitting Congress MP by a margin of over 56,000 votes. In 1996 he retained his seat improving the performance by getting 52.68% votes. In 1998, he was again reelected. And in 1999, Comrade Jayanta Rongpi contested the elections under the CPI(ML) banner and got the maximum votes so far – he polled 2,08,789 (53.98%). This victory earned a state recognised party status for CPI(ML). At that time, the ASDC had its legislators from all the five segments of this parliamentary constituency.
But situation of this constituency has undergone drastic and complicated changes since then. The Party and the ASDC suffered a vertical split on the question of orientation of the autonomous state movement in 2000. The renegades in the name of ASDC(U) entered into alliance with AGP and BJP and compromised the struggle for autonomous state. They started hobnobbing with militant outfits like UPDS and even with Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT). Unprecedented violence by the militant outfits against non-Karbis in Karbi Anglong created a split in the unity of the people of Karbi Anglong. In the assembly elections that took place in May 2001 our candidates were defeated in all five constituencies of the hill districts, the renegade ASDC(U) got two seats and the Congress won three. Later the Congress captured both District Councils of Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills. We could win only two seats in the District Council of Karbi Anglong.
Our Party opposed stood firm on the path of struggle to achieve autonomous statehood, and launched agitation following the Centre’s decision to create three new states leaving hill districts in the lurch. The Party also opposed any attempt of encroaching upon the rights enjoyed by Autonomous Council, and submitted a memorandum to the Centre opposing the Assam Government’s conspiracy to dismember Karbi Anglong transferring part of it to Meghalaya. They also opposed the Clause 8 of Memorandum of Settlement with BLT to confer Hill Tribe ST(H) status to Bodos living in Karbi Anglong whereas the Congress and the renegade ASDC led by Holiram covertly agreed to support the Bodo demand. It was the outcome of the intrigue by renegade Holiram led ASDC and Congress to woo Kuki Revolutionary Army (KRA) that killing of Karbis at the hand of KRA took place in December 03. Our Party exposed this treachery and demanded that KRA terrorists must be flushed out of Karbi Anglong and KRA be declared a banned outfit. We also demanded that negotiations should be opened with anti-talk UPDS.
At present there is an urge of unity among the Karbi people to defeat both Congress and BJP in the parliamentary elections so that the cause of autonomous state is not compromised. Comrade Jayanta Rongpi is indeed the most popular leader among the Karbi people. But because of the split in the autonomous state movement engendered by the renegades there are much difficulties ahead in the election battle.
Arrah parliamentary constituency is the first constituency in the whole India which sent a CPI(ML) representative to Parliament. It has four assembly segments of Bhojpur district (headquarter situated at Arrah), namely Arrah, Sahar, Sandesh and Barhara, and two assembly segments of Patna district, namely Maner and Paliganj. From 1952 to 1971 the name of this constituency was Shahabad, and in 1977 it was renamed as Arrah constituency.
In 1989 CPI(ML) contested from this constituency for the first time under the banner of Indian People’s Front (IPF) and secured 178211 votes (32.65%) to win this seat. Party candidate Rameshwar Prasad defeated the Janata Dal candidate as well as the sitting Congress MP Baliram Bhagat, who had earlier been the Lok Sabha speaker. All the social (caste) equations were shattered in this elections and Bhojpur thus became the new experimental ground for CPI(ML). However, the Party could not retain the seat in 1991 elections and polled third with 1,17,262 (17.17% of votes). This election saw a polarization of votes on caste basis and with unprecedented booth capturing by Dhanbad coal mafia Surajdeo Singh of SJP on the one hand and Ram Lakhan Singh Yadav of Janata Dal on the other. In 1996 elections CPI(ML) improved its votes by more than 5%, getting 1,46,398 (22.97%), but the seat went to JD’s candidate Chandradev Prasad Verma. In 1998 elections CPI(ML) increased its votes to 1,63,945 but the percentage marginally fell to (22.57%). This time the seat was snatched by HP Singh of SJP from Chandradev Verma of RJD. And in the last general elections held in 1999, while Ram Prasad Kushwaha of RJD won this seat back for RJD from HP Singh, now a JD(U) candidate, our Party suffered a decline in votes to 1,41,929 votes (20.82%). In this election, for the first time the banned outfit Ranvir Sena also put up its own candidate as an independent who secured 12.8% votes.
The Bhojpur part as well as Patna part of this constituency is mostly Sone irrigated zone. Around 70% of the land is irrigated. But the modernization of Sone canal system has not been taken up in the past decade. Other canal projects like Dedhua Pump Canal Project have also not been started despite tall promises by the MPs from Arrah. There is also problem of land erosion at the banks of Ganga. Unemployed youth in Arrah have no avenues of employment because of lack of industrial development. Due to electricity crisis, whatever small industries are there are on the brink of closure. In most of the schools there are no buildings and despite the claims of alternative education there is no improvement in literacy, which is 59.71% at present. Government hospitals do not provide medicines and there are no doctors in the primary health centers in the villages. Roads are in miserable condition.
Arrah constituency has 18% Dalit and 8% Muslim voters. Here, 80.75% of the labour force is constituted of agrarian labourers. Booth capturing is a predominant phenomenon in this constituency from the very beginning. It is in Sahar segment of this constituency that in 1967 Comrade Ram Naresh Ram, the present CPI(ML) legislator, contested on CPI(M) ticket. In that election Comrades Ram Naresh and his election agent Jagdish Prasad (Master Sahib) were attacked by the upper caste ruffians. Following the spread of Naxalbari spark they joined CPI(ML) and since then the political assertion of the Dalits and other rural poor reached to a point in 1989 where armed clashes took place to secure voting rights to Dalits. In reaction to the CPI(ML) victory, the upper caste feudal goons massacred 24 Dalit women and children.
Both Bagaha and Bettiah parliamentary constituencies are part of West Champaran district. Dalits and adivasis together constitute 15.7% of the population. West Champaran, one of the most backward districts of Bihar, is infested with estates, sardars and landlords, where land reforms or ceiling provisions have simply not reached. Landlords, administration, criminal gangs and bourgeois parties have formed an unholy nexus against the rural poor. Whoever dares to rise against them is either gunned them down or implicated in false cases. Since 1988-89 CPI(ML) has been persistently rousing and organising the agrarian labourers of this district, and has sacrificed dozens of its best comrades. We have seized hundreds of acres of land and distributed it among agrarian labourers. Utilising the mukhiya post won by the Party, we established a model by raising the wages to Rs. 58 per day out of the money allotted to the Panchayat under Antyoday scheme and Jawahar Rojgar Yojana. This led to pressure on other mukhiyas of the block for paying minimum wages. Also due to a successful strike launched on the issue of rebuilding a broken barrage on River Oreeya with government funding, and also to ensure minimum wages to the labourers working on this project, the wages were increased. Wages have also been increased in several other blocks due to our struggle.
We also exposed the corruption in red cards distribution scam in which a case was registered against the state Food and Supplies Minister Purnamasi Ram. For all this the Party has also paid in terms of life of several comrades. Ruthless attacks have been launched by goons and police on our mass base. In several cases of police firing a number of our comrades and poor people have been killed. In the last year almost 400 people have been put behind bars. Presently a large number of our leaders including the Incharge of the region, Comrade Birendra Gupta, are in jail. Comrade Birendra Gupta is now Party candidate from Bettiah constituency. From Bagaha (SC), Comrade Nandji Ram is the Party candidate. He polled 28,208 votes (4.95%) in 1999 elections.
Both from the angle of peasant movement as well as parliamentary politics, Jahanabad is considered an important constituency in Bihar. Feudal forces in their attempt to retain the status quo and suppress the class struggle have formed one after another senas, e.g. Bhoomi Sena, Lorik Sena, Brahmarshi Sena, Savarna Liberation Front, Kisan Sangh and Ranvir Sena. Led by CPI(ML), the most downtrodden rural poor, backward and dalits on the other hand have resisted their onslaughts and often scored victories.
The constituency has around 11 lakh voters including Ghoshi, Jahanabad and Makhdumpur assembly segments from Jahanabad district, Kurtha and Arwal of the newly constituted Arwal district (erstwhile Jahanabad) and Masaurhi assembly segment from Patna district. The constituency includes 10 panchayats of Khijarsarai block of Gaya district also, falling under Ghoshi assembly segment.
In terms of caste-based parliamentary politics, from the very beginning the constituency has seen a polarisation between two powerful castes –Bhumihars (16.3%) and Yadavs (19.1%). Party banners and political alignment took a back seat to this caste mobilisation. Since the constituency came into existence in 1962, there have been 11 parliamentary elections, among which Yadav candidates have won it 8 times and Bhumihars 3 times. Party-wise, CPI has won it 6 times, Congress twice and Janata Party, RJD, and JD(U)-Samata combine once each.
In 1989 CPI(ML) fielded its candidate from Jahanabad for the first time. Then onwards the parliamentary politics of the constituency became multi-polar. Fighting under the banner of IPF, Party bagged 1,59,212 votes which earned it a new recognition. Dalits constitute 20% of the population in this constituency and Muslims are 8%. While rural poor welcomed Party’s assertion, it worried feudal and casteist elements. By means of launching state repression, perpetrating massacres through private armies, implicating CPI(ML) leaders and activists in false cases to put them behind the bars and even killing some of the leaders – all the backward and forward feudal forces got united in the attempt to nip this political assertion of the rural poor in the bud. And since then, from Congress to RJD government – all have supervised this game of the ruling classes in Jahanabad.
Jahanabad constituency has also been the most emphatic one in telling the story of opportunist left’s downslide in Bihar. CPI, which has won this constituency 6 times and stood second twice (in the total 11 parliamentary elections seen by this constituency), lost its primary image of a struggling party. It had become a part of the caste-mobilisation game. With the advent of Mandal wave, CPI almost became non-existent. It was for the last time the CPI won this constituency banking on Janata Dal votes in 1996, but in 1998 when CPI contested alone it got only 46862 (5.61%) votes, whereas CPI(ML) got 132594 (15.84%) votes. In 1999 CPI did not even field a candidate and the seat was won by JD(U) defeating RJD candidate.
Booth capture has been a general feature of elections in Jahanabad. According to a newspaper report, 40% of the voters do not vote due to booth capturing whereas the polling percentage here goes as high as 70-80%. Ruffians from among Bhumihars and Yadavs excel in this heinous act and it is votes of rural poor which are snatched by them. A determined struggle against booth capture is a form of struggle by the rural poor for their political assertion.
The feudal lords of Jahanabad have been trying to strangulate the voice of change from the very beginning. In 70s decade Shakti Paswan and Jagdev Prasad, the leader of Shoshit Samaj Dal, were murdered in the broad daylight. Till now these dark forces have murdered over 500 leaders and activists or common people supporting the forces of change. In Jahanabad there is no CPI(ML) leader who does not have more than half a dozen cases on his or her head. Today Shah Chand, the mukhiya, Tribhuvan Sharma and 12 other CPI(ML) leaders are in jail under TADA. Recently Ranvir Sena killed CPI(ML) leader Comrade Manju, who had become a powerful voice of the rural poor in the area. Cultural worker and CPI(ML) leader Comrade Virendra Vidrohi, who had dared to blacken the face of the then chief minister of Bihar Bhagwat Jha Azad after Damuha-Khagri massacre, was killed by MCC criminals. Dozens of gory massacres including Bathe and Shankar Bigha have been perpetrated by Ranvir Sena. Despite all this, this bastion of feudal forces is sliding down the path of collapse.
An unfortunate aspect of Jahanabad is that on the one hand it is Ranvir Sena which targets Maley leaders, activists and mass-base, on the other it is MCC-PWG who proclaim that CPI(ML) leaders are in their hit list. CPI(ML) State Committee member Comrade Mahanand, AIPWA leader Kunti Devi, Kisan Sabha leader Dr. Ramadhar Singh and other CPI(ML) leaders like Ashok Verma, Yogendra Bind (mukhiya) and Ram Kumar Verma are also in the hit lists of both Ranvir Sena and PWG-MCC. The vote boycott slogan of PWG-MCC has turned into a device of selling votes on caste basis. Last time, whereas PWG had openly favoured JD(U)-Samata candidate, MCC supported RJD candidate. Both of them were against CPI(ML).
Following Arwal massacre in 1986, an amount of around Rs. 1600 crore has been allocated to this small district. However, the chunk of it went to the pockets of corrupt politicians, bureaucrats and mafia contractors. Jahanabad continues to remain one of the most backward districts in terms of roads, education, irrigation facilities, communication, industry and employment. Therefore CPI(ML) has made the question of overall development of Jahanabad as its main slogan along with land and wages, social dignity and social justice.
In Jahanabad, the present JD(U) MP Arun Kumar, State Health Minister Akhilesh Sharma, Bihar Congress Chief Ramjatan Sinha, legislator Jagdish Sharma – all patronise Ranvir Sena. And so does the Laloo-Rabri government. It is the rock like unity of rural poor that can defeat this nexus, and those who favour change have cast their lot with CPI(ML).
Lying in the North Chhota Nagpur region of the newly created state of Jharkhand, Koderma parliamentary constituency has six assembly segments: Bagodar, Rajdhanwar, Jamua and Gandey falling in Giridih district and Koderma and Barkattha falling in the newly constituted Koderma district.
We contested this constituency for the first time in 1989 (then part of Bihar) and got 30,788 votes (5.74%). Ritlal Prasad Verma of BJP won this seat. In the assembly elections held after a few months, it was for the first time that we registered a victory in Bagodar assembly constituency. In the 1991 parliamentary elections, when due to newly developing Mandal wave in Bihar everywhere our votes suffered a decline, we marginally improved our performance to 31805 votes (6.49%). In that election Mumtaz Ansari of JD defeated Ritlal Prasad Verma. But in the subsequent parliamentary elections held in 1996 and 1998, BJP won this constituency defeating RJD candidates. In 1999 RJD-Congress combine fielded Congress candidate and defeated Ritlal Verma, who subsequently joined the JMM. He has recently died. Although in Jharkhand this time JMM has entered into alliance with Congress, JMM has announced to field Ritlal’s wife from this seat and have a friendly fight.
In the assembly segments of this constituency, we have won Bagodar consecutively for three times, in 1990, 1995 and 2000. In the 2000 assembly elections we polled 31000 votes in Rajdhanwar, another segment, and lost narrowly to BJP. Following the creation of Jharkhand, RJD is losing its relevance in North Chhota Nagpur region, particularly in Giridih and their mass base has been shifting towards us. In another development the whole CPI district unit along with the district leader Comrade Ibnul Hasan Basroo has already joined us, which has given us a strong footing in Jamua assembly segment and widened our reach in Gandey as well. Our influence in Koderma has spread fast and the Markachcho firing incident shows that the administration has taken fright at our growing militant mobilisation there. Our struggles for the interests of the rural poor have earned us a recognition throughout this constituency and our resolute and fearless fight against the communal BJP has established our secular credentials among the minority community. In view of this change in the situation in the past five years we have emerged as a strong contender in this constituency. It is due to this region that the government has launched systematic attacks over our leaders and a number of our cadres have even been killed by police. Even our candidate from this constituency, Comrade Rajkumar Yadav, a State Committee member, is presently in jail on false cases.
Koraput (ST) is one of the parliament constituencies of South Orissa, bordering A.P, covering two districts – Rayagada and Koraput. It is part of KBK (Kalahandi, Bolangir, Koraput. Region – one of the most backward region of our country. This constituency is comprising of 7 assembly segments viz. Gunupur, Bissan Cuttack, Rayagada, Lakshmipur, Pottangi, Koraput and Jeypore. The first three assembly segments belong to Rayagada district. The last three are of Koraput. Lakshmipur segment falls in both districts.
The uniqueness of Koraput (ST) is that it is a really tribal-dominated constituency with nearly 53% tribal and 13% dalit population. Overwhelming majority of tribals and dalits are rural poor or unorganised labourers. With a limited irrigated land, agriculture in this region is very backward. Despite so-called legal protections, illegal transfer of tribal lands to the landlords or different vested interests a growing phenomenon. Development in some pockets of commercial crops like cotton or tobacco by landlords or neo-rich only contributed to this. Poor tribals have been turned into cheap, if not bonded, laborers in their own land. A few industrial units like a Defence Plant, NALCO or paper mill make no difference in the backward economy of the region other than displacing tribal people in a big way without compensation or rehabilitation. Severe drought has become a regular feature and a callous administration contributes to starvation deaths. The latest center of such deaths in Orissa –Kashipur – falls in his region, where, according to Navin Patnaik, tribals died not because of starvation but due to their food habits.
Koraput is a traditional stronghold of Congress where the Party won in crucial 1967 and 77 elections and managed to win even in 1999 when Congress was almost routed in Orissa. Unlike western Orissa, BJP is yet to make an effective dent among tribals here. Still BJP has improved its performance. In the last assembly elections it won most of the seats in this region. Emerging kulaks – contractors and neo-rich – are the main forces backing the BJP and the dissatisfaction against the domination of a few elite tribal families of Congress has been cashed by BJP to project a few new aspirants among tribals.
Among the Left, CPI(ML) has relatively strong presence, particularly in Rayagada. It banks on land struggles of rural poor with particular emphasis on seizure of illegally occupied tribal land and ceiling surplus land. Poor people, particularly tribals, were mobilized in a big way in mass resistance and protest campaigns to the attacks of landlord goons and police repression. On the other hand, PWG’s operation based on sensational military actions utterly failed to mobilize tribals in mass resistance. CPI(ML)’s political campaigns against state terror in the name of crushing the PWG have motivated people under PWG influence to come to our fold.
The CPI(ML) has contested this seat since 1996 and got 15,023 (3.03%) votes in 1998, thus emerging as the third important contestant in this constituency apart from Congress and BJD. It has strong presence in Gunupur and Rayagada assembly segments and is developing in Bissam-Cuttack. In other segments it has a general influence. In the election battle, the Party would focus on the question of food security against starvation, distribution of land to poor, protection of right and dignity of tribals particularly on land and forest, and development on the basis of assertion of poor people. It will emerge as the struggling voice of tribals and rural poor.
Situated in northeast Bihar, this constituency has turned into a terror field of history-sheeter mafia Shahabuddin by the mid-90s, who won this seat on a JD ticket in 1996 organising an unparalleled booth-capture operation. This parliamentary consitutency is composed of assembly segments Goreakothi, Siwan, Mairwa, Darauli, Raghunathpur and Jeeradei. In 1995 elections we had won Darauli and Mairwa assembly seats and in 2000 we retained Mairwa while lost Darauli by a slender margin.
In 1991 we fielded our candidate from Siwan for the first time under IPF banner and got 20688 votes (3.36%). The seat was won by Brishin Patel of JD. In 1996, we again this seat under CPI(ML) banner and got 109358 vote (17.61%). This time the seat was won by the notorious gangster Md. Shahabuddin of Janata Dal defeating the BJP candidate.
In 1998 our votes increased to 112223 but the percentage fell to (16.88%). In 1999 we greatly increased our votes to 2,25,229 (36.34%) and came second.