The Bihar government has to take back its condition of mandatory toilet for fighting panchayat elections. It should be noted that the CPI(ML) and AIARLA had taken up a campaign demanding revocation of the ‘toilet’ condition, conducting panchayat elections on party basis, and against giving cash instead of food grains. On 25 January different gram panchayats had taken out mashal juloos and on 29 Jan dharnas were held at block offices.
Bihar State Secretary, Com. Kunal said that the taking back of the condition of toilets was a people’s victory, as this condition was imposed with the aim to keep out marginalized sections from the election process. Victory marches were taken out in various panchayats from 3 to 9 February. However, the fight for party-based panchayat elections and against cash-for-food would continue. In this regard, CPI-ML and AIARLA jointly held district level dharnas on 9 Feb across the State.
In Patna a dharna was held at Gardanibagh. Speakers at the meeting said that 3-phase panchayat elections have been announced in Bihar, but these elections are not party-based, thus giving the ruling class parties the opportunity to run pocket panchayats with dominant-bureaucrat-middlemen nexus and remain free of accountability to the people. Thus the panchayats have become mere agencies for implementing government decisions. Such a non-party based panchayat model holds no future for the people; they must be party-based in order to have strong panchayats which strengthen the political claim of the poor. However, the government is deaf to this demand and is encouraging the use of money, power, and wheeling-dealing in the elections. They further said that the cash-for-food scheme is nothing but a route for corruption and a plan to avoid paddy purchase from the farmer. This is part of the government’s anti-poor pro-corporate policies. They also pointed out the anti-people policies of the State and Central governments, such as cut in MNREGA and Indira Aawas funds, and plans to close the red and yellow card schemes. They warned that the people would strengthen their agitation if the government does not take back its anti-people policies.
Protest dharnas and meetings were also held in Bhojpur, Buxar, Rohtas, Kaimur, Jehanabad, Aurangabad, Darbhanga, Arwal, Muzaffarpur, Beguserai, Bhagalpur, Jamui, Motihari, Purnea, Nawada, Nalanda, Gopalganj, Samastipur, Gaya, Sitamarhi, and other places.