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Party man warns Nitish against land reforms

IANS
Mar 27, 2010 at 08:38pm IST

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Patna: An upper caste leader of Bihar's ruling Janata Dal-United (JD-U), Prabhunath Singh, has warned Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to reject a new law that would protect sharecroppers in the state.

The state will be pushed to the brink of a civil war if the law is passed, he has threatened.

Singh also wants Nitish Kumar to reject the recommendations of the D Bandopadhayay Commission on land reforms.

MORE TROUBLE: Nitish Kumar has been facing rebellion by a section of his party colleagues.

"The state would be pushed to the brink of a civil war if the recommendations of the Bandopadhayay Commission were implemented," Singh warned Nitish Kumar.

He said millions of farmers in the state were in a dilemma as the state government was reviewing sharecropping recommendations.

Singh added that Opposition leaders were telling people that if the JD-U was voted to power again, land reforms would be implemented immediately. "Such a canard will harm the party's poll prospects," he said.

Targeting the Chief Minister, Singh said: "Such baseless claims can gain credence when Nitish Kumar privately says that the sharecropping law would be a historic step, indicating his desire to become a historical person without realising that it would cause massive unrest.

"By doing so, you would be simply betraying the faith, trust and aspirations of the people who voted you to power and made you the chief minister," Singh said.

Last year after a hue and cry by upper castes over much-publicised land reforms in the state, Nitish Kumar assured that his government had no plans to enact a new law to protect sharecroppers.

The Chief Minister then alleged that his political rival and Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad was instigating upper caste people against him and his government over land reforms.

In Bihar, members of the upper castes, particularly the powerful Bhumihar and Rajputs, own large tracts of land in rural areas till date despite the rise of backward castes since 1990.

In July, the D Bandopadhayay commission on land reforms suggested bringing in a new act to protect sharecroppers, besides having land ceiling and computerisation of land records.

Soon after the commission report, a powerful lobby mostly comprising upper caste and some backward caste people opposed the move that would give legal rights to sharecroppers.

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