[CPI(ML) is fielding 44 candidates in the elections to the 16th Assembly of Uttar Pradesh. Below is an overview of the main issues and agenda outlined by the party, based on in its election manifesto.]
CPI(ML)’s election campaign in UP has a solid foundation of consistent movements for the rights and dignity of the poor, for democracy against state and feudal repression, and a glorious legacy of struggles and sacrifices.
During the Mayawati Government’s tenure, several party leaders and cadres have been subjected to custodial torture, false cases under Goonda and Gangster Acts, jail, and expulsion from the district (zila-badar) for leading struggles of agricultural workers, landless, dalit peasants and youth from Ghazipur in eastern UP to Pilibhit in the west of the state.
The Party conducted a powerful anti-corruption campaign, demanding an effective Lokpal Bill with strong provisions to curb and punish corporate plunder. Struggling against land grab, the party has demanded enactment of a law to protect agricultural land, in place of any law to facilitate land acquisition. The party has been at the forefront of struggles against violence against women, which has grown steeply in the past few years. The party has raised a consistent voice against the witch-hunt of minorities in the name of fighting terrorism, in Azamgarh and all over the state.
The BSP came to power promising a crime-free, corruption-free state, development, and dignity for the dalits and the poor. But the Mayawati Government is now known for its loot of governmental funds, land grab from farmers, and for Ministers deep in crime and corruption.
With the announcement of elections, the total of Ministers sacked by Mayawati in an image-makeover has reached 20. Even after that, 16 of her Ministers, including her close aide Naseemuddin Siddiqui, and several BSP MLAs are facing enquiry by the UP Lokayukta in various scams. Two of the Ministers dismissed by her following Lokayukta charges have found a place in her list of candidates. Babu Singh Kushwaha, the former Minister implicated in the NRHM scam, was known to be a close confidant of Mayawati’s. Mayawati resorted to the dismissals as a desperate face-saving exercise when the scandals of corruption, rape and murder made these leaders too hot to hold.
The BSP Government’s claim of being a savior of dalits and the poor was exposed by the loot rampant in welfare schemes meant for these sections. BSP Ministers, bureaucrats, and middlemen openly looted thousands of crores of funds meant for NRHM, food-grain rations, MNREGA, etc. While the UP Ministers looted funds meant for rural health, children kept dying of encephalitis in eastern UP. The NRHM scam led to the serial killings of CMOs, including the killing of a deputy CMO inside Lucknow jail. This ministry was also looked after for some time by the Chief Minister herself, and later two of her cabinet ministers had to resign in the wake of the CMO murders. Eventually the court had to intervene to order a CBI inquiry.
The total amount looted in the food-grain scam exceeds the amount of the 2G scam, and is estimated to have crossed Rs 2 lakh crore. Lakhs of tonnes of foodgrains meant for BPL, Antyodaya, JRY, Mid-day Meal, etc were siphoned off to the open market. The Government’s promise of providing employment for the whole year was betrayed; on the contrary, MNREGA was turned into ‘corruption guarantee scheme’.
Mayawati govt broke all records of land grab in favour of the builder-corporate lobby, using the emergency clause of the Land Acquisition Act of 1894. The farmers had no option of appeal, while the Government clandestinely changed even the land use pattern and sold the land to the builders. Yamuna Express Way, Ganga Express Way are synonymous with land grab and repression, and farmers resisting land grab at Mathura, Tappal, Bhatta-Parsaul and other places have had to lose lives in police firing. Movements resisting land grab are underway in Chandauli and Varanasi too.
Debt-ridden farmers are committing suicide. In Bundelkhand, farmers are forced to sell grains at much cheaper rates in the absence of government procurement centres. There is a crisis of fertilizers, seeds, electricity and water; and fertilizers are being black-marketed while police is charging lathis on the protesting farmers. Potato farmers facing losses as there is no proper procurement and storage mechanism. Foodgrains rot in the warehouses, while poor starve.
The Mayawati cabinet became a virtual rogues’ gallery. MLAs and Ministers committed crimes such as kidnapping, rape, loot of government funds, extortion, and capture of village lands. BSP MLAs were implicated in the murder of a dalit girl student in Faizabad, of engineer Manoj Gupta in Auraiya, the rape case of a young girl in Banda were order of the day. Police gang raped and killed a young girl inside the police station in Lakhimpur-Kheri.
From Bahujan, Mayawati made a strategic shift to ‘Sarvjan Sukhaya,’ giving prominent positions to the representatives of feudal leaders in the government. Dalits inevitably paid a heavy cost for this political nexus with feudal forces. Mayawati’s ‘Sarvjan Hitaya’ and Brahman Bhaichara (brotherhood with Brahmins) resulted in increased injustice and oppression of weaker sections. The Mayawati government has made the process of filing complaints of dalit oppression even more cumbersome and daunting.
In matters of human rights violations, UP leads the nation. Custodial deaths, curbing the democratic rights of the students, batons, bullets and jail for ASHA-Anganwadi workers, Sikshamitra, employees, farmers, who struggled for their rights – these have been the hallmark of BSP-ruled UP. Leaders of CPI(ML) and other mass movements faced barbaric repression. The workers’ movement was crushed brutally in Kanpur, and many workers arrested under NSA. Mayawati tried to strangle every democratic protest, and in a manner reminiscent of Emergency, she imposed restrictions on peaceful protest in the state through a government order in April 2011.
Mayawati had promised lands to the landless poor. But this promise too proved to be a gimmick. On the contrary, many dalits already living on gram panchayat lands were denied regularization of land in their names, thanks to the pressure from strongmen and feudals. At many places they were evicted by force. In many cases, dalits were not allowed to occupy the lands for which they had been given pattas. In Ghazipur many dalit and musahar families were jailed for demanding lands for which they had already got pattas. The Vanwasi community is still being treated by Mayawati’s police and administration as a criminal caste, exhibiting a colonial mind-set. In Rahul Nagar of Pilibhit, hundreds of poor peasant families are struggling to get their names on land records, but the administration and land-mafia nexus are trying to evacuate them, in collusion with a whole array of parties, ranging from BSP to Congress. Defying the Forest Act blatantly, forest and land mafia are openly plundering forest resources and lands under Mayawati’s patronage.
Some of the most social, economic and educationally deprived castes like Kol, Biyar, and Musahar have not been included in Scheduled Tribe list, and some dalit castes given status of SC are still deprived of contesting elections, even at Panchayat level, because no seats are reserved for them! Adivasis’ demand of reservation of ST seats in proportion with their population is always ignored.
Mayawati was thrice in power in coalition with the communal forces, and she had also campaigned for Narendra Modi in Gujarat. She utterly failed to imbibe confidence among minorities in the state. In Azamgarh, minority youth are still being witch-hunted by the police.
The BSP Government passed a resolution in the UP Assembly, in favour of dividing the state in four smaller states, and sent it to the central government. People’s aspirations for separate states must be respected in a democracy, but the demand being raised just before the elections by the UP government, when there is no movement anywhere in the state on this issue, is clearly an election stunt.
All the ruling class parties are desperate to capture power in UP – but they are all tarred by the same brush of corruption and crime. In fact, the BJP, SP, RLD have become a laughing stock for rushing to take on board the criminal leaders jettisoned by BSP in the last minute. SP’s tenure in UP – synonymous with rampant crime - has not yet faded from memory. The Congress is desperate to better its fortunes in UP. But its promises to fight corruption and usher in reservation for minorities are blatantly hypocritical when one recalls the scams in which the Central Government is mired, and the same Government’s failure to implement the recommendations of the Sachar and Ranganath Mishra committees for minorities. Congress leader Digvijay Singh shamelessly tried to strike a ‘secular’ posture by terming the Batla House encounter as fake – but the sheer cynical mask was soon exposed when the Home Minister promptly defended the encounter and ruled out any enquiry!
The CPI(ML) is going to the polls with the promise of a voice of revolutionary opposition within the Assembly, that would reflect people’s opposition and resistance on the streets.