Lucknow: Hitting hard the feudal mindset of the landed, represented and other powerful classes, the Uttar Pradesh government has stated that it does not have any scheme to allot land to legislators. The matter had come up at the State Assembly on Wednesday.
Housing minister Suresh Pasi made the remarks during the Question Hour in the Vidhan Sabha. He was replying to BSP member Mohammad Aslam Raini, who sought to know from the government whether it will allot land to legislators.
“The question does not arise… Uttar Pradesh Housing Development Board and development authorities do not have land banks,” Pasi said.
Leader of Opposition Ram Govind Chowdhury also asked the government to consider the demand and provide lands to the legislators in the state capital.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Suresh Kumar Khanna said the priority of the government is to provide land to poor and homeless and it is not considering such demand.
Chowdhury said “legislators too are poor and the demand is genuine” and requested Speaker Hriday Narain Dixit to look into it.
The Speaker later said the matter will be discussed in a meeting.
Why Uttar Pradesh legislators feel they are entitled to such state donations can be understood from authoritative reports about the State.
Feudalism in Uttar Pradesh
Observer Research Foundation has noted in an article, “The resource-rich State has the habit of being on the national agenda and grabbing substantial media attention by virtue of its geopolitical positioning. UP-wallahs are boastful of the political supremacy that the high number of Lok Sabha seats bestows upon their State. The ‘king-making’ State is often brazen and authoritarian, yet with such ‘power’ has come zilch responsibility.”
The article continues: “The zamindari system in Uttar Pradesh may have been abolished more than six decades ago but feudalism has stayed: The biggest feudal lord being the State itself. This feudal lord lords over cattle, women, the marginalised communities and minorities alike.”
A report of 2013 in Hindustan Times reads: “Feudalism is not just alive but flourishing in India, its economic and social progress notwithstanding. And proof of this, if any were needed, came in the form of a horrific incident that has left people shell-shocked. A couple was arrested on Tuesday by the Delhi Police for beating their 35-year-old maid to death.”
The story says further, “They are no ordinary couple: Dhananjay Singh is a BSP MP from Uttar Pradesh and his wife is a doctor. Both have been booked for attempt to murder, murder and employing a minor (their other domestic help). The MP took a day to report the case and tried to mislead the police by saying that the maid, Rakhi Bhadra, had slipped and fallen down the stairs. Yes, Bhadra did fall from the stairs but only after she was pushed by his wife. Their other domestic help, a teenager, has told the police about the abuse he and Bhadra had to face daily.”
A feature dated 2006 in India Today says, “The Awadh region of Uttar Pradesh, spread over 13 districts, continues to have a hangover of its feudal past. The area still has 430-odd talukdars or feudal lords who trace their history to the Mughal period.”
What is a feudal society?
Wikipedia says, “Broadly defined, it (European feudalism) was a way of structuring society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour. Although derived from the Latin word feodum or feudum (fief), then in use, the term feudalism and the system it describes were not conceived of as a formal political system by the people living in the Middle Ages.”
“In its classic definition, by François-Louis Ganshof (1944),” the article continues, “feudalism describes a set of reciprocal legal and military obligations among the warrior nobility revolving around the three key concepts of lords, vassals and fiefs.”
“A broader definition of feudalism, as described by Marc Bloch (1939), includes not only the obligations of the warrior nobility but also those of all three estates of the realm: the nobility, the clergy, and the peasantry bound by manorialism; this is sometimes referred to as a ‘feudal society’,” says the article.