Daily Surprises - Sept 22, 2014 Bharat Ratna First Recipients

The Tebhaga movement was a militant campaign initiated in Bengal by the Kisan Sabha (peasants front of Communist Party of India) in 1946. At that time share-cropping peasants (essentially, tenants) had to give half of their harvest to the owners of the land. The demand of the Tebhaga (sharing by thirds) movement was to reduce the share given to landlords to one third.

In September 1946, the Bengal Provincial Kisan Sabha gave a call to implement, through mass struggle, the Flood Commission recommendations of tebhaga -- two thirds’ share to the bargardars, the share-croppers also known as bagchasi or adhyar, instead of the one-half share. The bargardars worked on lands rented from the jotedars. The communist cadres, including many urban student militias went to the countryside to organise the bargardars. The central slogan was “nij khamare dhan tolo”-i.e., sharecroppers taking the paddy to their own threshing floor and not to the jotedar’s house, as before, so as to enforce tebhaga.

The storm centre of the movement was north Bengal, principally among Rajbanshis- a low caste of tribal origin. Muslims also participated in large numbers. The movement dissipated soon, because of the League ministry’s sop of the Bargardari Bill (which provided that the share of the harvest given to the landlords would be limited to one third of the total, but the Act was not fully implemented.), an intensified repression, the popularisation of the Hindu Mahasabha’s agitation for a separate Bengal and renewed riots in Calcutta which ended the prospects of sympathetic support from the urban sections.