The reversal of land reforms?
There are some international news that catches our eyes here inside India.
Taiwan’s new President is a lady. Name: Tsai in-wen is alleged to practise ’emotional’ and ‘extreme politics’. Why? Because she is single woman without children! This was said by the rival and nearby country, China! Of course it is a motivated criticism and yet this is said by a member of China’s organisation overseeing relations with the island nation. Can we say the same type of criticisms in India? We can’t.
But then, wherever women are in politics and also prove a success they face some extreme criticism or other.
In West Bengal where Mamata Banerjee had won a decisive vote in the latest elections, the new CM says she has fulfilled 99.99% of the promises she has made in her 2011 manifesto. (Times of India, (May 26, 2016) what do us to make of such statements. No way except you falls in line or get into trouble.
Such is the state of state’s politics.
The state governments, or for that matter, the Central government too, doesnt follow some objective criteria, some international bodies or some independent experts views of criticism and comment.
There are so many such reports. Take for instance the Human Development Index. Each state is supposed to have prepared such index.
If you take such Index, where does West Bengal comes in? Very pathetic in sectors like education and health, not to speak of industry.
So too TN where the state ranks 7th or 8th in industry.
But then who cares for such fine points, for truth and reality.
It is all about propaganda and populism of a virulent kind.
The TN government has abolished repayment of the co-operative loans for farming. There is a plea that the PSU banks loans to be abolished, No one cared to say the PSU banks are owned by the Central government and a state government can’t touch those loans. From this basic fact to other claims, we are not in a position to bring to the public attention because the media, both and the electronic have their own priorities.
There is no atmosphere in the country to educate the voters, the public.
We are in a transition state where the media, specially the local language media is evolving.
Already in TN, there are now multiple channels, each trying to experiment features like debate where we see new faces, independent faces, of course party spokesmen and also journalists and experts who bring in new information and new point of view for some government claims and programmes.
Previously, there are not many channels nor there was any interest in TV news channels going for such public debates.
All that was available was tow party-owned channels and they were just plain false propagandas!
This time the trend in the TV news channels is to draw independent viewers and they too seem to be growing.
So, we find here in West Bengal, inspite of what the intrepid CM is claiming there is news that she had really failed to fulfil some of her more controversial promises on which she had miserably failed.
One is the promise of returning the agricultural land the previous CPI (M) government acquired for the Tata Nano Car project.
After 5 years over we see still in Singhur the taken-over land is still with the government and a rusting lock is still hanging in from of the gate in Singhur.
A field level report narrates how in villages in Bengal’s Medinapur district at Jamirarah village the Ghosh family owns lots of agricultural land and now the Ghosh family on the other side of the road they are trying to ‘reclaim’ land that was(forcibly)given to the poor peasants by the CPI(M) government long ago. One local resident says, to the visiting journalist, “Some people still don’t have pattas (title deeds) and the Trinamool Congress, ever since it came to power five years ago has been grabbing the land to its supporters! The Ghoshs have gone to court claiming that the land is theirs and they own the lands!
The share croppers, who go lands from land lords by a programme called Operation Barga, introduced by the CPI(M) government in 1978 and land was taken over and handed over to bargadars, a very sensitive term in Bengalis rural side and now this ‘unrealistic’ process is being reversed!
Yes, in the beginning, the agricultural production increased and everyone lauded the Left type politics. As it happened in Kerala too.
Also, in other states like, say, TN again, but over the years this sort of assigning land to tenants whose lives also changed now.
New prosperity in the villages, urbanisation, and education spread had all changed the rural scene.
Tenancy lands are now bones of contention and the courts are loaded with such tenancy cases. Is true now in almost all states.
The end result is unviable small holdings, rising debts of farmers and also rising suicides.
Surely, the time has come to debate the land rights, tencies, ceiling laws etc.
Though SC/STs and some minorities benefitted by land reforms, in TN, it was the Dalits/OBCs, some castes benefitted, the scene today is changed.
Dalit identity doesn’t pay for the Dalit leaders. All the Dalit leaders unseated in these Assembly elections. OBCs too are changing. Farming is becoming unviable.
In the Bengal rural side people say ‘frankly’. People are returning their lands on their own. Now, muscle power is also common in grabbing the agricultural lands.
Trinamul Congress is charged with violence and muscle power.
In TN too we can see that party heavyweights used muscle power and at one time, there was separate police to deal with land grabbers! One heavyweight party enthusiast in the Bengal rural country says:”It is my land and I forcibly got it back”. The Hindu, April, 22, 2016).
There are some detailed statistics about the number of bargadars evicted and the number of acres of land taken over by the owners and others.
The larger point here is that the resounding victory of the Trinamool Congress also tells another side of the reality.
The tenancy laws are being reversed owing to several new factoeas, the new socio-economic changes and the further fragmentation of the land holdings making farming unattractive to the new generation. The charges of Mamata’s party using muscle power and violence has to be seen in this light.