The Bihar State level Party workshop was held at Ram Manohar Lohiya College in Muzaffarpur on 20-21 September. In this important 2-day workshop, the Bihar State committee of the Party decided to launch a people’s rights movement under the central slogans of “Badlo gaon, badlo Bihar, haasil karo apne adhikar” and “Loot Jhoot ki chhoot nahi, haq chahiye, bhik nahi” (Change the villages, change Bihar — Achieve your rights”, and “No room for lies and loot—We demand rights, not alms” based on the issues that came to the fore through the 2-month long “Gaon ka sach, logon ka haq” (Truth about the villages, people’s rights) survey conducted by the Party. Party General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya, Politbureau member Com. Swadesh Bhattacharya, Bihar State Secretary Kunal, PB member and UP State secretary Com. Ramji Rai, central and state committee members and about 200 Party activists from Bihar attended the workshop and had in-depth discussions on the experiences during the survey, the people’s issues the survey brought to the fore, and the future strategy for agitation.

The proceedings were conducted by a 5-member Presidium consisting of PB member Com. Dhirendra Jha, AIPWA General Secretary Com. Meena Tiwari, Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Mahasabha General Secretary Com. Rajaram Singh, CCW member Com. KD Yadav, and State committee member Com. Niranjan Kumar. In the first session tributes were paid to late and martyred comrades, after which the 28 July Party invocation and the central committee review of the election results were read out. Introducing the main topic for the session, Bihar state secretary Kunal reported that though the survey had aimed to reach out to 5 lakh families across Bihar, till now only 2 lakh families had been surveyed. He pointed out that the survey revealed the real face of governmental schemes in Bihar. Concrete facts, figures and statistics collected through the survey show that whether in the matter of education, health or sharecroppers, the government’s boast of ‘development’ is completely shallow. In the first session, general secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya also detailed the political need of the survey and the intension to establish a strong dialogue and connection of the Party with the people of Bihar through the survey.

Reports from the districts were presented in the second session. Bhojpur district secretary Com. Jawahar Singh as well as RYA State President Raju Yadav and Manoj Manzil presented the results of the survey from Bhojpur. They informed the convention about the peoples’ concerns emerging – such as lack of land and homes, access to electricity and toilets and specific concerns of the youth regarding educational facilities in Bhojpur. They also stated that the Party had started working on the demands and issues emerging from the survey, particularly in booths where the Party had performed poorly in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Gheraos and youth sabhas were conducted by the Party, where issues of employment, expectations from the govt, development of Bihar and expectations from the CPI-ML were brought up. In the context of Siwan Com. Indrajit Chourasiya brought up the issue of missing names in the voter lists and migration. Following up on these demands, jansunwai programmes were held at 94 places. RYA national president Amarjeet Kushwaha and Sohila Gupta also narrated their experiences. Presenting the Patna rural survey, Com. Amar said that the survey clearly shows a structural change in the villages as workers in rural areas do not want to work in MNREGA as they get very low wages. Where on the one hand agricultural labour is turning into construction labour, many are also turning to sharecropping. Rambali Yadav presented the report of Maner (urban). He said that shortage of housing land was a big problem in urban areas also, but there is no law for the poor. Gopal Ravidas also shared his experiences of the survey during the workshop.

The Jehanabad survey report pointed out that whereas traditional employment was on the wane, new means of employment are also not being generated. Here too, junsunwais had been conducted in several centres. It was reported that at Arwal, after the survey, jansunwai and people’s agitation on various issues had already stared there. Nalanda district secretary Mitranand said that the survey programme has broken the disunity among the people, who are now enthusiastically taking part in this programme. Junsunwais had been organized, and at Kariyana in Silaw block Yadav farmers participated in good numbers under the Party banner protesting against corruption in electricity connections. On the same day that the janpanchayat was held at Berthu in Karai block, the BDO had organized a vikas shivir (development camp). Women in thousands got up from the jansunwai and went and surrounded the vikas shivir. They told the BDO that the government should stop propagating lies and he should come to the janpanchayat and answer the people’s questions. Finally the BDO had to come to the janpanchayat to answer the people’s questions. The Aurangabad survey showed that the domination of feudal forces over Bihar’s development schemes is still very powerful. Reports also came in from Rohtas, Darbhanga and west Champaran. Giving the closing speech for the second session PB member Com. Swadesh Bhattacharya said that clearly the old methods will not work for the new kinds of peoples’ issues which are coming up. He added that our inspections have placed new kinds of responsibilities in front of us and we need to work for this systematically and continuously.

The third session was devoted to discussion on the main issues that emerged from the survey. Speaking about the possibilities of agitation on the question of sharecroppers, Com. Sudama Prasad said that a part of agricultural labour is getting converted into sharecroppers, but as there is nothing in writing the fear always plagues the sharecroppers that they can be evicted at any time by the landlord. The time has come to remove this fear from their minds and to strengthen their struggle and their organization. Com. Arun Singh pointed out the need for the kisan sabha agitations to pay special attention to this group. State secretary Kunal spoke about the sharecroppers’ agitations in several parts of Bhojpur and Patna rural. He said that in Bahrawa panchayat of Punpun our mukhiya distributed grants of diesel among sharecropper farmers, after which the government was forced to make changes in its earlier rule, according to which the government was giving the grant to the landlords instead of the sharecroppers. In Bhojpur, land owners in Mansar were forced to bow down on the issue of sharecropping. Raising issues like usury, migration, moneylenders’ debts etc, Com. Virendra Gupta put forward suggestions regarding migration allowance, connecting MNREGA with farming and animal husbandry, making laws for non-resident workers, etc. Com. Ranvijay, Abhyuday, Naveen Kumar, Markandey Pathak, and Com. Vishveshwar Yadav placed their thoughts on construction workers’ problems, building AISA, building youth sabhas, teachers’ agitation, and pax elections respectively.

Speaking about women’s questions, AIPWA general secretary Meena Tiwari raised the issue of health centres. She said that no health centre in Bihar has availability of lady doctors or proper medicines, due to which the death rate of women during childbirth is very high. There is also a great shortage of workers at sub-centres. On this issue AIPWA state committee organized protests in front of district headquarters. They raised the issue of proper honorarium and dignity of midday meal workers, rights of ASHA workers, freedom, equality, and right to education for girls, opening graduate colleges for women at the block level, immediate closure of liquor shops, and other issues. Saroj Choube, Renu Yadav, Madhuri Gupta, and other women leaders also expressed their views on this topic.

The fourth session was devoted to discussions on increasing Party membership up to 1 lakh, organizing booth level branches, doubling the number of branches, increasing the membersip of Lokyudh, Adhi Zameen, Shramik Solidarity, and Janmat. The valedictory address of the workshop was given by the General Secretary, after which the workshop concluded with the singing of Internationale.