Resolution on Agrarian and other Rural Struggles

by the Bandyopadhya Commission. The much trumpeted Forest Rights Act 2006 is not really a piece of land reform legislation; it only extends legal recognition to land held by tribals and other forest dwellers settled for at least 75 years. But even this Act is being more violated than implemented.

11. While redistributive land reforms remain abandoned, a veritable campaign is on to reverse whatever land reforms had actually taken place whether officially or through decades of land struggle and rob poor peasants of whatever gains they had made. The revolutionary peasant movement must boldly defend the gains of land struggle and advance the agenda of land reforms by pressing for strict implementation of all existing land reform laws, redistribution of all ceiling-surplus, benami and illegally occupied land, lowering of land ceiling, abolition of absentee landlordism and usurpation and concentration of land in the name of temples and trusts, and the securing of homestead land rights.

12. The question of tenancy reform and tenancy rights must figure high on the agenda of the revolutionary peasant movement. Instead of granting ownership rights to tenants, the official model of tenancy reform limited the agenda to the issue of security and improvement of terms of tenancy. But the governments have even failed to ensure minimum rights for tenants like mandatory registration, inheritable cultivation right and subsidies and facilities that are granted to the owners of land.

13. Forms and practices of tenancy have undergone considerable changes in the last few decades. The system of share-cropping is increasingly giving way to money rents and the tenure of lease is also becoming increasingly seasonal. Tenants, often dependent on land-owners for not only land but also credit and other inputs, end up getting trapped in various forms and degrees of bondage. Managers of temples and religious trusts often behave like cruel landlords and treat tenants as their ‘subjects’. In Bihar and many other states where tenancy laws remain virtually unimplemented tenancy remains oral and concealed. There is no system of regulation of rent and tenants are denied access to credit, subsidies, sale of their crops at rates fixed by the government, or benefits like crop insurance and compensation in case of any major crop failure.

14. The feudal forces in Bihar succeeded in stalling the Bandyopadhyay Commission’s recommendations regarding tenancy registration and reform by creating a scare among small landowners while tenants were also not organized and confident enough to beat back the feudal offensive. Tenants must be organized systematically around every issue affecting their interests and pressure mounted on the government to fulfill their demands and recognize their rights. If we can inspire confidence among tenants through sustained and painstaking propaganda and agitation, tenants display great enthusiasm and tenacity in struggles. The revolutionary peasant movement must make it a point to beat back feudal offensives and state indifference by effective mobilization of tenants in determined struggles.

15. The formation of the All India Kisan Mahasabha in May 2010 marked an important step towards reinvigorating the peasant movement on a countrywide scale to defend small-peasant agriculture in the face of the all-pervasive agrarian crisis and growing corporate-imperialist invasion of agriculture. The AIKM has begun to respond to various dimensions of the agrarian crisis, propagating and agitating against forcible land acquisition and for securing land rights for forest-dwellers and the landless and on issues like irrigation, electricity, diesel, seeds, fertiliser and procurement of crops and milk from direct producers at remunerative prices and free from the clutches of middlemen.

16. While launching periodic campaigns on a national level, we must pay the greatest attention to the task of building powerful and vibrant local struggles involving the broad masses of the aggrieved peasantry and organizing poor and middle peasants and tenants around their specific demands. Whether it is the issue of timely availability of inputs like fertilizer, water and power, fixation of crop prices or sale of crops at minimum support price fixed by the government, peasants are erupting in protest all over the country and we must intervene effectively and promptly to compel the administration