In an attempt to reclaim lost political ground in Bihar,the Communist Party of India (CPI) has launched a movement to free government and Bhoodan land from the possession of musclemen and newly-rich people and give it to poor and landless farmers.
The Jhanda Gaado Andolan so called because the CPI plants its flag on the vacated land has so far freed and distributed about 1,000 acres. The movement was launched on August 12. At its recent state executive,the CPI resolved to intensify it and conduct the second phase between September 27 and October 2.
The party has assessed that 35,000 to 40,000 acre government land,agricultural and residential,is in the illegal possession of the rich and the musclemen owing allegiance to different political parties. We plan to free 5,000 acres in districts where we still have strong support base, CPI national council member Satyanarain Singh told The Indian Express.
Some two lakh acres of Bhoodan land have also been in illegal possession for years and successive governments have failed to free it,Singh added.
So far,CPI workers,assisted by thousands of villagers,have freed 565 acres in Begusarai,330 acres in Khagaria and 76 acres in Samastipur,and distributed them among farmers,Singh said. Unlike Bihar governments scheme to give three decimal land to a landless Mahadalit family,we are following Bandhopadhyay Commission recommendation and are giving 10 decimal land each to a family for raising a house, Singh added.
He estimated that about 5.84 lakh families in the state need plots to build homes. Some farmers have had pattas (possession slips) to the illegally occupied land,in all about 10,000 to 12,000 acre,since 1975.
Though the CPI claims that the aim of its movement is to implement recommendations of D Bandhopadhyay Commission,many see it as a bid by the party to revive its fortunes in Bihar. The CPI had 28 legislators in the state in 1995,now it has just one.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his JD-U leaders have supported the Left partys activism but sources said the ruling party fears the movements success would help the CPI make inroads into its Mahadalit constituency,comprising about 12 per cent of Bihars population. JD-U spokesperson KC Tyagi said,Time is not ripe for any movement that begets a caste struggle in Bihar. As for making a dent into the Mahadalit segment,we have nursed that constituency by antagonising many people.