In a move to placate upper castes, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday assured them that their lands were safe and his government has no plans to enact a new law to protect sharecroppers.
He also 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.
"Lalu has no work these days, except instigating upper caste people against me and my government by saying that the Nitish government will take away all your lands and hand it over to bataidars (share-croppers)," Nitish Kumar told newspersons in Patna.
Kumar alleged that Lalu Prasad was making at least a 100 calls daily to upper caste people in different villages across the state to instigate them.
"Lalu has been warning upper caste people that Nitish Kumar will snatch all your lands after coming to power in the 2010 assembly polls," the chief minister said.
Kumar made it clear that his government has no plans to enact a new law to protect "bataidars". "We are not going to enact a new act to protect bataidars in the state," he said, adding that "it has not been enacted in a state like West Bengal which is known for radical land reforms then how can it be done in Bihar."
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 to the state government to bring in a new act to protect share-croppers, besides capping the land ceiling and computerisation of land records.
Soon after the commission report, a powerful lobby mostly comprising of upper caste and some backward caste people, opposed the move to give legal protection rights to sharecroppers.
It is said that upper caste people voted against Nitish Kumar in the by-elections last month to teach him a lesson over the issue. The ruling alliance (JD-U and BJP) got just 5 seats, in comparison to the opposition RJD-LJP alliance bagging 9 seats. The Congress won 2 and the BSP and an independent one each.