With the ongoing nationwide protest against the newly amended citizenship law, the mainstream left parties in Bihar are leaving no stone unturned in terms of addressing the people of Bihar. The left parties have been constantly creating awareness about the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act, the proposed National Population Register and the imminent National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC), more than any other opposition party in Bihar.
Towards the end of last month, several parties in the state including the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) and Communist Party of India, supported by other opposition parties and civil society organisations gave a call to form a human chain. Thousands of people, including large number of women and children, participated in the human chain to protest against CAA-NRC-NPR across Bihar. To carry forward the protests, the left front comprising three left parties, are attempting to reach out to the people in a number of ways.
CPI(M) Bihar threw its weight behind mobilising the masses against CAA-NRC-NPR when the party’s veteran leader, politburo member and former parliamentarian from West Bengal, Mohammad Salim was roped in to hold public meeting in the districts of Madhubani, Darbhanga and Samastipur. Salim’s Hindi oratory skills attracted a mass gathering with participation of people from across faiths. On February 10, Salim reached north Bihar region of Bihar to interact with people from Madhubani, Darbhanga and Samastipur.
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The first gathering at Bisfi in Madhubani district was a huge turnout where Salim said that “the newly amended citizenship law is not just a threat to Hindu-Muslim, Bangalee-Bihari, etc, rather it aims to destroy our diversity, turning our independence into colonialism.” Reciting couplets of revolutionary poet Kazi Narul Islam – bishwoi jaa kichu mahan, chiro kalyan kor, ordhek ta sriji aache naari ordhek ta nor (If there’s anything great in this world- half contribution is of women and half by men), he emphasized the leading role of women in creating thousands of Shaheen Bagh across Bihar, following the protests in the national capital where thousands of women have been observing a 24x7 sit in for over a month and half.
He made an appeal to the audience to recognise and appreciated the efforts of women in standing firm against CAA-NRC-NPR.
After addressing two public gatherings in Madhubani, the veteran leader joined in Shaheen Bagh-inspired protests in Darbhanga and Samastipur town.
Speaking with NewsClick, Mohammad Salim said, “Modi government is deepening the religious divide by constantly scratching up the Partition wound after seven decades of the tragedy. They are doing this to divert people’s attention from the failure of its economic policies be it inflation, unemployment, steep fall in GDP, frauds in banks, farmers’ distress, etc. But nationwide protests against the anti-people citizenship act has put the government on a backfoot and the first credit must go to the students of this country who are on toes opposing this law.”
He further added, “The Citizenship Amendment Bill was tabled in Lok Sabha in 2016 by the then Home Minister Rajnath Singh. Last year in January, when I was MP, I submitted a crucial dissenting note against the lapsed Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016, to the Joint Parliamentary Committee appointed, which included points on violation of citizenship provision (Articles 5 to 11), Assam NRC and Refugee policy.”
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Talking about the steps taken by his party, CPI(M) state secretary Awadhesh Kumar said that the party has been reaching out to different districts of Bihar and extending unconditional support to Shaheen Bagh-inspired protests statewide with an aim to expose the anti-people character of the citizenship law. “We have been getting good response in terms of participation. In Samastipur district, we are undertaking a long march (jatha) reaching out to masses on same issue.”
The Communist Party of India (CPI) also launched a similar statewide long march last month under the banner ‘Jan Gan Man March’ led by former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) president and CPI leader which commenced on M.K.Gandhi’s martyrdom day on January 30, from West Champaran in Bihar. Apart from large crowds and mass gathering in different districts, incidences of attack on the youth leader have also been reported. The march is being supported by ‘Joint Forum Against NPR/NRC/CAA’ which will end at Patna’s Gandhi Maidan with a ‘Samvidhan Bachao, Nagrikta Bachao Maha Rally’ on February 27. People from various fields of art, civil society, representatives from JNU, Jamia Millia Islamia and leaders from various Left parties are expected to attend the event.
Talking to NewsClick, CPI state secretary Satnarain Singh said that lakhs of people are pouring out to listen to Kanhaiya Kumar, which shows that they are not ready to accept the regressive, divisive politics of BJP. He added that along with left parties, entire Opposition (i.e. Rashtriya Janata Dal, Congress, Rashtriya Lok Samata Party, Hindustan Awam Morcha and Vikassheel Insan Party) have been requested to come together on the day of mega rally at Gandhi maidan to take on the ruling alliance of Bihar.
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CPI (ML) has also announced its move against the citizenship law by staging protest in every block of the state and called for a march towards Bihar Assembly on February 25. The party has also been exposing Nitish Kumar’s double speak on CAA.
The state’s largest opposition party, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), however, has not been keeping an amicable relationship with the left parties within Bihar. This can be traced when a friction was reported before last year’s Lok Sabha polls, as left parties were not included in the Grand Alliance on issue of seat arrangements.
Nitish Kumar’s flip-flops and stand on the CAA, NPR and NRC have been confusing and his supporters within also concede that he has compromised on his ideology and has been acting against his better judgment. The ruling Janata Dal (United) had supported the Citizenship Amendment Bill in Parliament which had led to friction among party leaders. However, prior to that, he had said that implementation of NRC in the country was “unnecessary”.
The writer is an independent journalist and researcher based in Bihar.