Bihar Assembly Elections 2010
As we go to press, comrades in Bihar are right in the midst of a most vigorous election campaign in the 104 constituencies we are contesting under a seat-sharing arrangement with the CPI and CPI(M). Here we publish our election manifesto and list of candidates.

CPI(ML)’s Appeal and Commitment
to the Bihar Electorate
New Road to New Bihar

Dear Electors,
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 power was 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 nor has 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 investment?
7. 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 to promote a wide network of liquor shops down to every panchayat.
11. 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. The fact 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. The social 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 rights of 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 caste politics and move along the bold course of change. Let us take the New Road to a New Bihar.