The forthcoming elections to the Assembly of Bihar are taking place in the shadow of the Covid-19 epidemic with major restrictions on election campaigning and gatherings of people. Huge parts of Bihar are still reeling under floods. Bihar will be the first state in India to undertake a major electoral exercise amid such restrictions. We had requested the Election Commission of India to schedule the polls keeping this abnormal situation in mind so the participation of the people did not get adversely affected. The EC has however announced the dates as per the regular schedule. We appeal to the people to ensure their energetic participation while observing necessary Covid-19 precautions and regulations.
Development and good governance are still loudly proclaimed as the guiding goals of the Nitish Kumar government, but these goals have been starkly delinked from the fundamental premise of democracy and now these much touted phrases have turned into empty rhetoric or a cruel joke much the same way as Modi's 'achchhe din'. The 2015 elections had given an emphatic mandate for a non-BJP government, but the BJP’s limitless lust for power and total control coupled with the unabashed political opportunism of Nitish Kumar made a complete mockery of that mandate and meted out an unprecedented insult to the electorate. The power-grabbing machinations of the BJP have now even split its own coalition with the LJP moving out of the coalition and dozens of BJP leaders taking the LJP route to take on the JDU.
The governance model of Nitish Kumar has all along been dominated by the bureaucracy with little role for elected people’s representatives on various levels and absolutely no respect for the legitimate demands and agitations of different sections of the people. Over the years this bureaucracy-centric arrangement has turned increasingly arbitrary and dubious, with cliques calling the shots in many departments and regions, and officers not toeing the line being harassed and victimized for not being loyal to dominant leaders and interests. The fabled 'sushasan' of Nitish Kumar is now marked by scams like Srijan, horrific state-led crimes like the Muzaffarpur shelter home rapes and murders of girls and riots across the state from Chhapra and Madhepura to Aurangabad and Jahanabad.
The BJP, which has been steadily increasing its penetration and tightening its grip by using Nitish Kumar as its face, is now desperate to appropriate all power for itself. Concentration and centralization of power has emerged as the hallmark of the Modi regime. And the power it is amassing is being used entirely for the benefit of the Adani-Ambani empire at the cost of India’s farmers and workers and the common people. Nitish Kumar has waxed eloquent about getting special state status for Bihar, but the Modi government has been systematically demolishing India’s federalism. A constitutionally recognized special state like Jammu and Kashmir has in fact been stripped of not just its special status but its very statehood and reduced to two Union Territories. The rhetoric of cooperative federalism can no longer camouflage the bulldozer of coercive centralization. Looking at the Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar regimes we can well rephrase the famous saying ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely’: ‘with absolute power comes absolute arrogance and absolute aggression’. The ‘double engine’ government which is bulldozing Bihar must now be voted out.
In the 1970s, Bihar was a key battleground for democracy. The 1974 student movement mentored by Jayaprakash Narayan played a big role in reclaiming democracy and ending the Emergency regime. In the early 1990s, Bihar again led the battle for social justice and secularism against the feudal-communal aggression of the Sangh brigade. Today Bihar will again have to pool all its strength, energy and resolve to stop Modi’s fascist bulldozer, save the Constitution, reclaim democracy and win the rights of the people. CPI(ML) in Bihar arose as the party of the most oppressed and marginalized sections of Bihari society, and has since its inception five decades ago continued to brave feudal violence and state repression to hold high the banner of democracy, dignity and social transformation. CPI(ML) MLAs in Bihar Assembly have been tireless in their campaign for justice and people’s rights. At this critical political juncture in the history of Bihar and India, CPI(ML) is determined to pour all its energies into strengthening the emerging broad-based unity against the fascist offensive of the Modi government and the Sanghi conspiracy to hijack Bihar and turn it into a laboratory for feudal-communal-patriarchal violence, bigotry and hate as it is doing in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh.
Despite tall claims of economic growth and infrastructural development, Bihar still remains trapped in chronic poverty, persistent economic backwardness and abysmally weak public education and public health facilities. The pain suffered by millions of migrant workers and students of Bihar in the lockdown has revealed before the whole world the reality of jobless growth and the continuing migration of workers and students in search of better employment and education opportunities. The agenda of development in Bihar cannot be reduced to an assortment of sundry schemes that do not even impact the surface and shy away from addressing the roots of any major and persistent problem. The agenda of development must be firmly anchored in the context of people’s empowerment and social transformation and guided by the constitutional commitments of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity. With this forward-looking vision of hope and change, CPI(ML) presents its 2020 poll manifesto as a charter of the party’s enduring commitment to a better deal for the people of Bihar.
CPIML Charter For Change
The charter presented by CPIML in the 2020 Bihar Assembly polls is in continuity with demands raised in the course of long struggles by the people of Bihar. Our charter reflects Bihar’s aspirations and determination to struggle for change. We hope that a new Government will be elected in the 2020 polls, which will work in the direction of this change. The CPIML is committed to struggling for the implementation of this people’s manifesto for change.
Land And Agrarian Reforms
Implement the recommendations of the D Bandopadhyay Commission report in order to:
- i). lower and standardise the land ceiling, strictly enforce ceiling laws so as to redistribute ceiling-surplus land to every landless family
- ii). protect all poor households from eviction from Bhoodan and other lands on pretext of lack of pattas; immediate regularization of all settlements of the poor and the oppressed
- iii). restore Bhoodan Committees which the Nitish Government disbanded
- iv). provide 10 cents of homestead land for all those without shelter
- v). ensure registration of all tenants/sharecroppers, regulation of rent and protection of the right to cultivate and extension of necessary assistance to tenants/sharecroppers to help them develop their agriculture.
Agricultural Development and Farmers’ Welfare
- i). Enact a law through the state legislature to counteract the worst effects of the anti-farmer Farm Laws passed by the Modi regime. State law must mandate government procurement of produce at Minimum Support Price at one and half times the outlay costs in state agricultural markets; and introduce penalties for actions by corporations that hurt farmers’ interests or food security.
- ii). Increased public investment in agriculture and allied sectors
- iii). Cheap credit
- iv). Assured power and water at affordable rates
- v). Assured and affordable irrigation facilities
- vi). Timely supply of subsidized inputs
- vii). Procurement centres at every panchayat
- viii). Improving and expanding cold storage facilities
- ix). Veterinary hospitals at every block
- x). New agricultural universities to be set up
- i). A special package to ensure reopening of closed mills and revival of sick units in the public sector
- ii). promotion of employment-intensive agro-based and other small- and medium-scale industries
Right To Employment
- i). Fill all pending vacancies in government jobs without delay
- ii). Improved MNREGA with 200 days of work per person instead of per family, at an assured minimum wage
- iii). Urban Employment Guarantee Act providing 300 days of work at a living wage to all adults
- iv). In the backdrop of Covid-19, immediately introduced a Decentralised Urban Employment and Training scheme under which the state government issues 'job stamps' to public institutions which provide work to workers, who can then exchange the stamps for a minimum wage provided by the government.
Migrant Workers’ Rights
- i). Robust arrangements including a permanent helpline on part of the Bihar Government to ensure safety, dignity, care for Bihar’s migrant workers working in other states and countries
- ii). Registration of all migrant workers from Bihar
- iii). Bihar Assembly should pass a resolution demanding a new stringent Central legislation in place of the present toothless Inter-State Migrant Workmen Act.
- i). Bihar Government must struggle to get the 2005 New Pension Scheme scrapped, and to restore the Old Pension Scheme
- ii). Regularise all scheme workers, contract-honorarium-outsourcing and daily wage employees and teachers, and make permanent appointments on all vacant seats
- iii). Recognise “jeevika” (livelihood) workers, ASHA and anganwadi workers, mid-day meal workers as government employees and ensure monthly minimum wages of Rs 18000
- iv). Permanent appointments and promotions on all long pending seats
- v). Release the dearness allowance and dearness relief amounts that have been stopped in the name of Covid-19
- vi). Restore payment of bonuses for state government employees
- vii). Retirement Benefits & Service Rule: No employee will be retired before his/her scheduled time; order mandating retirement for employees above the age of 50 to be scrapped. All institutions to have service book rules, all retirement benefits to be given on the day of retirement
- viii). Welfare boards to be constituted in different industries/occupations to ensure housing, healthcare, education and pension benefits for unorganized workers and their families including domestic workers and agricultural labourers, and adequate compensation for all accident victims.
- ix). Enact a Domestic Workers’ Welfare and Social Security Law, fix minimum wages for domestic workers
Right To Equitable And Quality Education For All
- i). Complete implementation of the recommendations made by the Muchkund Dubey Commission on Common School System in its report submitted in June 2007 to ensure free, equitable and compulsory education for all within the 0-14 years age-group
- ii). In keeping with the CSS commission recommendations, ensure 60,000 additional schools in Bihar (26,000 primary schools, 15,500 middle schools and 19,000 senior secondary schools). Also restore the schools closed down by the Nitish Government.
- iii). Bring the teacher-student ratio to 1 teacher for every 30 students in primary school and 1 teacher for every 35 students in middle school.
- iv). Scrap the contract-honorarium model of teacher recruitment, ensure equal pay for equal work, regularise all teachers, providing job security and adequate training to improve the quality of teaching.
- v). Regularization and upgradation of Madarsas and Sanskrit Vidyalayas
- vi). Introduce teachers for fine arts, computers, and sports in all schools
- vii). Introduce constitutional morality classes at every level in schools, including age-appropriate curriculum teaching students to recognise and resist gender, caste, and communal prejudices and discrimination.
- viii). Absorb Shiksha Sevaks (Tola Sevaks and Taleemi Markaj) in the concerned schools, pay them wages instead of honorarium, compassionate appointments of family members on the death of an employee
- ix). Recognise mid-day meal workers as full-time government employees
- x). Rectify the existing anarchy in Bihar’s higher education: ensure regular sessions, fill vacancies in teaching and staff positions, hold regular students union elections
- xi). Investigate higher education scams and punish the guilty
- xii). Pursue the demand to make Patna University a Central University
- xiii). Bihar Assembly must pass a resolution against the New Education Policy 2020
- i). Make the right to healthcare a justiciable right through the enactment of appropriate legislations at the State level for the people of Bihar. Such a legislation should ensure universal and free access to good quality and comprehensive health care including the entire range of primary, secondary and tertiary services for the entire population of Bihar.
- ii). Bihar’s current Government Health expenditure per person per year is the lowest of 20 states in the country according to the National Health Accounts Estimate. The Total Health Expenditure per capita in Bihar is Rs 2047, out of which Out of Pocket Expenditure is Rs 1685 – constituting 82% of Total Health Expenditure. Government of Bihar spends only around Rs 14 per person per year on drugs and diagnostics: ensure free drugs and diagnostics in government health facilities to all people in Bihar by increasing this expenditure to Rs 50. Allocate 10% of the budget for healthcare
- iii). Abolish user fees in all government hospitals
- iv). There is shortfall of 91% in Community Health Centres, 48% in Health Sub Centres and 39% in Primary Health Centres according to Rural Health Statistics Bulletin of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. Develop a time-bound road map to meet the shortfall in physical health infrastructure in Bihar.
- v). Equip PHCs to provide experienced emergency care, to prevent maternal and natal/neonatal mortality.
- vi). Fill all the vacant posts of medical officers, specialist doctors, nurses, ANMs, pharmacists, radiographers and other frontline health workers at various government hospitals and health programmes within a stipulated time. Make appointments through permanent recruitments, not short-term contractual appointments.
- vii). Recognise ASHAs, anganwadi workers as Government employees and regularised.
- viii). Institute a protocol and comprehensive measures for ensuring the safety of all health, sanitation and relief workers during Covid-19 and other disasters and epidemics.
- ix). A participatory system of community-based monitoring, grievance redressal and planning needs to be implemented to ensure that people in Bihar would be able to access appropriate health services as their right with accountability mechanisms, seek effective action on complaints, and have a strong voice for improved functioning of health services.
- x). Open fully staffed and equipped Urban Primary Health Centres at every 30000 population in towns and cities of Bihar. Appoint USHA (Urban Social Health Activists) on the pattern of ASHA in each Urban PHC to ensure effective linkages between the community and the health facility. In addition, set up mohalla clinics in urban bastis and slums in all towns and cities
- xi). Stop all forms of privatization of Public Health Services, eliminate Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) which weaken public health services
- xii). Universalise ICDS programme and expand it to cover under-3 children through community based management of malnutrition and day-care programmes
- xiii). Scrap the unconstitutional requirement for mandatory Aadhaar link to access health or health-related services or schemes
Welfare and Amenities
i) Flood-control, Water Management and Disaster Management
- Immediate implementation of short-term and longer-term measures for flood-control, water management and rehabilitation of flood victims.
- Construction of elevated roads and elevated platforms in flood-prone areas
- Safe storage of foodgrains
- Flood-resistant housing
- Provision of fire brigades at every block
- District-level disaster-management planning and availability of trained personnel for prompt execution of such plans
- Rejuvenate and protect Bihar’s traditional water bodies (aahar, pokhar, pyne, wells etc)
ii) Electricity and Internet
- No privatisation of power
- Increased production capacity of electricity
- Promote decentralized renewable energy
- 100 units of electricity free to rural poor households
- Subsidised power for irrigation purposes
- Free WiFi in all educational institutions including schools, colleges, and hostels, and creation of village libraries with WiFi
- Free laptop scheme for students
iii) Roads and public transport
- Construction and regular maintenance of rural roads
- Comprehensive network of all-weather motorable roads throughout the state, with provision for timely and regular maintenance
- Safe, affordable public transportation systems providing connectivity all over Bihar
iv) Safe Drinking Water, Hygiene and Sanitation
- Free and universal access to safe drinking water and sanitation
- End water pollution; free drinking water from dangerous effluents and chemicals
- Stop coercion and mob violence in the name of Swacch Bharat: instead, adopt a policy of persuading people to give up caste-based prejudices about toilet-use, and on building eco-friendly toilets that people are actually willing to use.
- End manual scavenging, ensure the safety, wages and rights of sanitation workers
v) Debt Relief
- Loan waiver for farm loans
- Loan waiver for SHG members (mostly women)
- Make clusters of SHGs as required and ensure means of livelihood; guarantee procurement of SHGs’ products
- Interest-free group loans for SHGs
- Relief on repayment of MFI loans, government may make arrangements with companies for repayment of loans as needed
- Moratorium on entry of MFI agents into villages and/or demands for debt repayment pending economic revival post Covid-19 and lockdown
- Regulation of Micro Finance Institutions to prevent extortion and harassment by their agents
- Strict penalties for any kind of public humiliation, coercion or extortion against loan defaulters
vi) Rations and PDS
- End Aadhaar linkage for rations and any other welfare schemes
- To tackle the widespread hunger and malnutrition caused by Covid-19 and the lockdown, universalise PDS, provide 50 kgs of food grains at Rs. 2 per kg and 5 litres of kerosene oil at Rs. 2 per litre to all, expand commodity coverage under PDS to include all items of essential consumption including pulses, edible oil, as well as soaps and detergents, as is provided in southern states
- Door to door delivery of rations
- No urban slum demolitions, or demolitions of rural settlements
- No evictions of urban poor and street vendors; provide permanent housing and shops/space for handcarts to urban poor and street vendors
- Ensure independence of bureaucracy: end social discrimination, political victimisation, punishment transfers
- Janlokpal to end corruption
- End to extortion and violence against shopkeepers, traders
- A community based, participatory public health model to tackle alcoholism; freeing the thousands of poor incarcerated under the draconian prohibition law; provide free de-addiction care for alcoholism and drug addiction; and strict regulation of the production and sale of alcohol
- A transparent sand policy, sand mining to be brought under government control, cracking down on sand mafia
- Six-monthly social audit of all shelter homes, old age homes, JJ (juvenile justice) homes, protection homes, beggars homes, observation homes, schools and hostels to prevent abuse
Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes
- i). A robust system of monitoring the implementation of the Prevention of Atrocity Act
- ii). Expanded provision of scholarships to SC/ST students
- iii). A time-bound white paper on the condition of Ambedkar Hostels, Kasturba Vidyalayas and SC/ST hostels and schools, towards all-round overhaul of infrastructure and amenities
- iv). Protect and fully implement SC/ST/OBC/PH reservations, fill all vacant reserved seats without delay
- v). A government-run campaign to counter discrimination and oppressive practices against SC and ST communities
- i). Effective and time-bound implementation of the recommendations of Sachar Committee and Ranganath Mishra commission
- ii). Time-bound expansion and execution of the ongoing multi-sector development programmes for minorities with special emphasis on the community’s education, healthcare and employment needs
- iii). Senior bureaucracy and police officials will be held accountable for timely action to punish communal hate speech, and prevent violence against minorities
- iv). A government-run campaign to counter communal prejudices and promote inter-faith harmony and unity
- i). Helplines providing advice and immediate legal help and social support for victims of sexual abuse, domestic violence, and “honour” crimes respectively
- ii). Short stay homes for survivors wanting to escape abuse conditions, and for inter-caste or inter-faith couples facing violence
- iii). A government-run campaign building public support for women’s autonomy and rights, and inter-caste, inter-faith marriage
- iv). Nutritious meals for pregnant women, health checks for pregnant women, supply of medicines and health care for pregnant women and provisions for safe deliveries
- v). Compensation and rehabilitation of victims of sexual violence
- i). All manner of protections and welfare measures for transgender persons as mandated by the NALSA judgement will be implemented while respecting the right of trans persons to self-determination and self-identification, without having to submit any kind of proof of identity to the District Magistrate
- ii). Bihar Assembly must pass a resolution demanding a rollback of the regressive Transgender Persons (Protection Of Rights) Act, 2019
Persons With Disabilities
- i). Time-bound plan to make all public places and institutions in Bihar accessible to Persons with Disabilities (PwD)
- ii). Free of cost aids and appliances, medicine and diagnostic services and corrective surgery to persons with disabilities
- iii). 5% reservation in higher education and 4% reservation in jobs for PwDs
- Monthly pension of Rs 3000
- free healthcare facilities
- provision of old-age homes and special care centres in every block for all senior citizens from low income communities
- No Aadhaar requirement for accessing pensions or any other wezlfare measure
- Survey of all child labour and street children in Bihar towards their urgent rehabilitation
- supplement the income of families of child labourers or street children by at least Rs. 3000 per month, and ensure their enrolment and retention in schools.
Justice and Human Rights
- i). Commitment by Bihar Government not to implement the unconstitutional National Population Register NPR (which is nothing but a prelude to the NRC and CAA which threaten the citizenship rights of the poor and minorities)
- ii). Demand the release of students, activists, and intellectuals unjustly arrested by the Modi regime and various BJP State Governments; no use of UAPA to implicate dissenting voices in Bihar; protect innocents in Bihar from persecution by NIA, police and other agencies; free all political prisoners and innocent people in Bihar
- iii). Bring the perpetrators of massacres of Dalits, oppressed castes and Muslims to justice.
- iv). Compensation and rehabilitation of victims of communal and caste violence, as well as disasters
- v). Strengthen the scope and powers of the various State Commissions: for women; SC/STs; minorities and human rights
- vi). Implementation of the 11 Supreme Court directives to prevent mob lynchings: including appointing a senior police officer as a nodal officer in each district to take appropriate measures; broadcasting warnings against mob violence; appointing designated courts for lynching cases; preparing a lynching/mob violence victims and their families compensation scheme.
- vii). Police reform to hold the police force accountable to the Constitution; cleansing policing in Bihar of the scourge of custodial torture and arbitrary violence; implementation of Supreme Court directions in the case of every custodial death
- viii). Time-bound plan to release under-trial prisoners on bail in as many cases as possible, ensuring that “bail not jail” remains the norm, release of poor and destitute under-trials on Re 1 bail amounts.
- ix). Comprehensive prison reform, ensuring basic human rights of prisoners. Ensuring that the detailed observations and recommendations of the “Prisons of Bihar: Status Report-2015” for every prison in the state, are addressed and implemented. Medical facilities for all prisoners. Special emphasis on conditions of women and transgender prisoners, including medical and psychiatric help. Prevention of discrimination and violence inside prison against vulnerable minorities, especially under-trials in terror cases. Free legal aid and counsel to under-trials.
Culture, Language, Sports, Tourism
- i). Protection and development of Bihar’s languages including Bhojpuri, Magahi, Maithili, Angika and Bajjika.
- ii). Auditoria and cultural centres should be set up in all district headquarters as a tribute to eminent poets and writers like Nagarjun, Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, Phaniswarnath Renu, Bhikari Thakur, Rahul Sankrityayan, Gorakh Pandey, Noor Fatima, and Vindhyavasini Devi.
- iii). Adoption of a sports policy to encourage rural sports; ensure availability of sports teachers and training facilities at every school and spot and groom budding talents at the grassroots level. A properly built sports stadium in every block and a well-equipped sports complex in every district/subdivision headquarter.
- iv). A comprehensive tourism development plan for Bihar to protect and promote places of historical importance and natural beauty
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