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In Focus

July, 28

Time for a shift from BJP’s Anti-Poor Policies to INC’s Rights-Based Empowerment to End Naxalism!

BJP rule in Chhattisgarh is responsible for 1.2 crore people being multidimensionally poor in terms of education, health and living conditions! Little wonder that the 51 year naxal insurgency thronging even after 13 years of the Raman Singh government.

The UNDP in 2008 found Chhattisgarh to have the lowest Human Development Index (HDI) of 0.358 out of 23 states. Its dismal track record is down to BJP’s anti-poor development model, given Chhattisgarh produces the most coal and tin in India and benefits from abundant natural wealth owing to its 40% forest cover. Many in Bastar take up naxal insurgency as a form of violent protest when their poverty is rendered unbearable by political violence, corruption and dispossession.

So how does BJP’s development model create the conditions for naxalism? How do its security measures feed insurgency? And how can this be salvaged by INC’s rights-based empowerment?

BJP displaces a large number of tribal families in favour of its private sector cronies, arbitrarily revoking collective rights over jal, zameen and jungles.

Chief Minister Raman Singh’s anti-tribal and misogynistic policies have accounted for 35.14% of the loss in Chhattisgarh’s HDI. BJP’s amendments to the Forest Rights Act, Mines and Minerals Act and the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act have diluted protections afforded to forest dwelling families during land acquisition for government and private sector projects.

Ease of doing business has come at the cost of voiding property rights and community resource ownership, as in the case of the Rajasthan Government and Adani Minerals Pvt Ltd’s coal mining projects in Ghatbarra. Forest dwellers and gram sabhas can no longer refuse to sell their land.

In cases where companies like Tata have closed operations, the Raman Singh government has failed to return the land to the original owners as per the law.

Tribals should be paid dividends as traditional owners of coal rich lands and be involved in conservation, especially as coal mining projects have failed to restore land following extraction.

BJP gives farmers a raw deal while pocketing relief funds in times of drought.

BJP’s agricultural policies can no longer be trusted. Every day four farmers commit suicide in Chhattisgarh despite it being the paddy bowl of India. 27-28 kgs of vegetables fetch only Rs. 25-40.

Not only did it refuse to implement UPA II’s Minimum Support Prices, it has also not honoured its pre- assembly election promise to provide farmers with bonuses and an increased MSPs.

The BJP administration neglected to provide any loan waivers during back-to-back drought between 2014 and 2016. It pocketed Rs. 820 crores from the Rs. 1200 crore drought relief funding.

Chhattisgarh’s farmers have not benefited from an increased agricultural growth rate as the state government has neglected to provide storage facilities and trade linkages that are vital to export.

Because BJP has failed to create infrastructure essential to equitable regional development.

INC strongly believes the creation of infrastructure is the archimedean point from which balanced and equitable regional development can be achieved. Only 12% of people in the high poverty zone have access to improved sanitation facilities compared to 40% in the rest of the state, showing balanced and equitable development is not a BJP priority.

It is unsurprising that Bastar is a breeding ground for violent naxalism, given the Raman Singh government has done little to address the isolation of this 40,000 square kilometer district. 130 roads damaged by insurgents have not been repaired. Large swathes of Dantewada, Bastar and Sukma remain unelectrified.

BJP’s Public Distribution System is designed to exclude the poorest from their Right to Food.

39.9% of Chhattisgarh’s population are Below the Poverty Line, more than anywhere else in India. That Bastar has been ravaged by naxalism is unsurprising given 51.4% are below the poverty line and the PDS system fails to provide.

The promise of rations is used to bait vulnerable voters. It is alleged that the BJP made 70 lakh ration cards while contesting the 2009 elections only to cancel them after they had won.

The poorest are excluded from the inalienable Right to Food given to them by the previous Congress-led government just because their Aadhar Cards are not linked to their ration cards.

BJP’s Counter Insurgency strategy violates International Laws and Boosts Naxal Recruitment

The BJP’s counter-insurgency measures in Bastar fail to discriminate between naxals and civilians. Within two years of the BJP coming to power, rape became a regular part of anti-naxal operations by the special forces. BJP has failed to stop this war crime. Adivasis and activists lobbying against corruption and land-grabbing are falsely labeled naxalites and murdered in fake encounters.

INC’s model of rights-based empowerment and inclusive grass root governance is the only antidote to naxal insurgency.

In order to eliminate violent insurgency, Bastar must be allowed to enjoy the full measure of the rights rendered inalienable by previous UPA administrations like the Right to Food, Education, Livelihood (MNREGA) and Information. Freedom of choice and individual property rights must be respected and their interests integrated into all developmental efforts.

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