Hyderabad : An indefinite hunger strike by leaders of two Left parties over land reforms in Andhra Pradesh entered the second day Monday, mounting pressure on the Congress government to distribute surplus land among the poor.
Demanding immediate steps to free land allotted to the poor from the clutches of the rich and distribute them among the landless for house sites, the state secretaries of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and Communist Party of India (CPI) as well as seven other leaders of the two parties continued their fast at Indira Park here.
Intensifying the 80-day old statewide agitation, the communist parties are asking the authorities to initiate land reforms. The district-level leaders of both parties also began an indefinite fast Monday.
The Left parties are demanding an assurance from the Congress government that it would implement the Koneru Ranga Rao Committee recommendations on land reforms and distribute surplus land among the poor and landless.
The leaders began the fast at a time when the assembly is debating land related issues. The debate has been marred by angry exchanges between Left parties and the ruling Congress and its allies.
CPI-M state secretary B.V. Raghavulu and CPI secretary K. Narayana announced that they would continue the fast unless the government accepted their demands. CPI-M MP P. Madhu and six other leaders are also on hunger strike.
They criticised the government for sparing the rich and influential in illegal possession of land belonging to the poor, ignoring the demands for its distribution among the poor. They pointed out that the Ranga Rao committee had said that about seven million acres of land could be distributed to the poor.
In the last three months, the activists of the two parties as well as scores of poor have encroached government and private lands across the state.
Though the agitation was more symbolic as the encroachers left after every police intervention, it led to clashes at several places. Many were arrested.
Protestors including top leaders of the two parties were also arrested during the agitation. The Left parties alleged that the government was trying to suppress the protests.
Several rounds of talks between the Left parties and the government failed to break the deadlock. The government maintains that it had taken up housing schemes for the poor on a massive scale and was also distributing surplus land among the poor.