Two rallies were held recently in the historic Gandhi Maidan of Bihar. The first one was the ‘Adhikar Rally’ of the ruling Janata Dal (United) (JD (U)) on 4 November and the second one was the ‘Parivartan Rally’ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) CPI (ML) on 9 November. The background, the legal system and the grand arrangements for both the rallies were the main topic of discussion among the public. The first rally was of the JD (U) which Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had been propagating from city to city for months. Not only this, 2-3 days before the rally, Legislators also went to every house to invite people to come to the ‘Adhikar Rally.’ Before the rally, at the time of the ‘Adhikar Yatra’ that continued for months, many disputes came forward. The people of the State have seen Ranvir Yadav, husband of the current Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) of Khagaria, Poonam Devi, threaten teachers with a carbine in his hands. Just 2 days before the ‘Adhikar Rally’, it was heard that Munna Shukla, husband of JD (U) MLA Annu Shukla, was asking for Rs. 7 crores as tax in the name of the rally.Obviously, the ‘Adhikar Rally’ had reached to its final destination after many disputes.
Significantly, on 4 November, the ‘Adhikar Rally’ was completed in a grand fashion with the arrival of lakhs of people. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was overwhelmed after seeing the huge crowd and has announced a much bigger rally in the Ramlila Maidan at Delhi next year. Weeks before the rally, the whole of Patna was decorated with banners and posters. With the help of posters, strong Legislators and ex-Legislators like Anant Singh, Munna Shukla and Sunil Pandey dominated Patna. However the number of people who arrived for the rally was a booster for the JD (U). There were luxurious arrangements for transportation, lodging and food. The arrangement of ‘pandals’ and cooking of delicious dishes at the residence of the Ministers and the Legislators were getting more priority than other news in the local newspapers. In between all these, many important incidents were not relevant for the Government, the Administration and the media. Acid was poured on two girls of Paswan caste and when the activists of the All India Progressive Women Association (AIPWA) requested a discussion with the District Magistrate (DM) regarding this issue, they were refused on the plea that the DM is busy with the preparations of the ‘Adhikar Rally.’ On the day of the rally, 3 tribals were killed in Purnia and a colony of ‘Musahars’ was destroyed in Vaishali, but all these incidents were irrelevant.
Crores of rupees were spent and hordes of people arrived who were quite disciplined and in which the number of middle class families was more. It was clearly visible that the people who came for the rally were not able to connect with the issue of a Special State. That is why there was lack of passion and enthusiasm in the crowd. Later on, news also came that it is being calculated who among the Ministers and the Legislators came for the rally with how many people and cars ? The purpose behind these calculations can be easily understood.
The ‘Parivartan Rally’ of the CPI (ML) also took place in the same week on 9 November, just after 5 days of the ‘Adhikar Rally.’ Soon after the date of the rally was decided, people started to comment that it is an overzealous initiative of the CPI (ML) to decide the date of the ‘Parivartan Rally’ immediately after the ‘Adhikar Rally.’ CPI (ML) was turning out to be a matter of joke. But by giving strong answers to all the speculations and statements, the CPI (ML) held an incredible rally. The people started to gather in Patna from the day prior to the rally. The party also made some arrangements at the Gandhi Maidan. The number of people was huge, but they were at ease spending the night out in the Maidan despite the cold weather. Around 2:00 a.m. in the night, the General Secretary of CPI (ML), Dipankar Bhattacharya was found eating ‘sattu-thekuya’ with the people. There was no lack of enthusiasm amongst the people who came to Patna for this rally. They brought harmoniums and ‘dholaks’ with them and were singing and to the music from the instruments. The lyrics of the songs were, “rahiye major n milihe majoori, chalva de ae Nitish gardniye pe chhuri” and “aave palatniyan, hilela jhakjhor Duniya.” All these types of songs were echoing throughout the entire night at Gandhi Maidan.
This rally of the lower class people of the society was also very disciplined, like Nitish’s rally. Yes, there was lots of enthusiasm among the people in the rally and the people who came to the rally knew very well why they had gathered for this rally. Knowledgeable persons said that there was no doubt that the rally was phenomenal. But the CPI (ML) often organises such rallies. This ‘Parivartan Rally’ of the CPI (ML) reminded one of the 1990 Rally at the Boat Club in New Delhi. This rally was considered to be the biggest rally of that time. At that time, the CPI (ML) shouted slogans like “daam baandho kaam do nahi to gaddi (throne) chor do.” The main slogan in the ‘Parivartan Rally’ was “parivartan ki bahi bayaar, naya Bharat naya Bihar.”
The number of people who arrived for the Adhikar Rally was a booster for the JD (U). There were luxurious arrangements for transportation, lodging and food. The arrangement of ‘pandals’ and cooking of delicious dishes at the residence of the Ministers and the Legislators were getting more priority than other news in the local newspapers. In between all these, many important incidents were not relevant for the Government, the Administration and the media. Acid was poured on two girls of Paswan caste and when the activists of the All India Progressive Women Association (AIPWA) requested a discussion with the District Magistrate (DM) regarding this issue, they were refused on the plea that the DM is busy with the preparations of the ‘Adhikar Rally.’
An opportunity for a new Front got enough force from this rally. The State Secretaries of both the main leftist parties of CPI (ML), the Communist Party of India (CPI) and Communist Party of India (Marxist) CPI (M) were present at the rally. Apart from the leaders of the Leftist parties, the major faces of the Samajwadi Party (SP), like ex-Minister of the Bihar Government, Ramdev Singh Yadav and ex- Union Minister Devendra Yadav were also present at the rally. Some intellectuals of the State also participated in the rally. The Leftist leaders of other States also participated in the rally. This rally of the CPI (ML) was not decided suddenly or with a competitive attitude. This rally had been planned since the verdict of the Bathani Tola massacre came in the month of April this year. Since then, the CPI (ML) started its ‘Justice Yatra’ in the State and it began to get the support and attachment of the people who were dissatisfied with Government. In 2005, it had 5 Legislators and in 2010 they were devoid of Legislators. Nevertheless, this Opposition party always raises its voices on every issue in favour of the common people. CPI (ML) was been a chief Opposition party during the murder case of the Mukhiya of Aurangabad district, Chhotu Kushwaha, the murder case of Comrade Bhaiya Ram Yadav, the killing of four innocent minorities in Forbesganj and the increasing issue of gang rape in the State.
SP Minister and ex-Union Minister Devendra Yadav said ‘today it is necessary that both the Socialists and the Communists should come together’. He also said that ‘sludge’ cannot be washed with ‘sludge.’ The Congress and the BJP are fighting among themselves whereas they have the same strategic point of view. Now the time is right when we should give an alternative to the public in the form of a Left Democratic Front. By targeting Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar, he said that “in the 15 years tenure of Lalu, ‘Tari’ (an intoxicating drink) became free and during the tenure of Nitish, wine became free. ‘Adhikar’ can be achieved through this Parivartan Rally, the request is to Get United.” All the speakers who attended the rally advocated uniting the Leftists and the other democratic parties. This rally has raised hope among the common people. Senior CPI leader U.N Mishra by confirming this statement said that ‘this is by far the biggest rally of the CPI (ML). Due to this rally, the chances of the United Left in which there will be other democratic forces also are getting stronger.’ When speaking about democratic forces, Mishra said ‘don’t confuse them with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Lok Janshakti Party (LOJPA); we are trying to unite those who are fighting against the ruling party and the energies which are scattered’. However, the Leftists have been talking about unity for a long time. But due to several reasons this has not happened so far. The CPI and the CPI (M) were partners of the Congress and the RJD for a long time too, but this time both the State Secretaries of the parties spoke about a new alternative of separating from the Congress and the RJD. That is why an opportunity of a new Left Democratic Front is plausible.
On all these issues, political analyst Mahendra Suman said that the main reason behind the lack of enthusiasm in the ‘Adhikar Rally’ was that the issue of a Special State is an issue which has been coined by Nitish Kumar and for which it is necessary to stir up the masses in the son-of-the-soil context , which is not possible. Mahendra added that the way in which the system and the media have been used in the ‘Adhikar Rally,’ from that perspective, crowds are bound to gather. But after all these efforts, there was no real appeal seen in the Adhikar rally. On the other hand the enthusiasm in the ‘Parivartan Rally’ seemed to have touched the seventh Heaven. Slogans like Inquilab-Zindabad, Lal Salaam were echoing in the entire Gandhi Maidan. Dipankar Bhattacharya, the General Secretary of CPI (ML), has not only trampled the State Government and the Central Government, but also the RJD. By referring to the State Government as a Government of bullets-sticks, he said that the countdown of the State Government has already begun.
Now it will be worth seeing when this hope of a new alternative is able to take a concrete form. After all, the efforts for uniting the Leftists have started from the time of two veteran CPI leaders, Vinod Mishra and Chaturanan Mishra.