Sanjay Sahani: Single man behind mobilising thousands of MNREGA workers in Bihar
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Sanjay Sahni: Single man behind mobilising thousands of MNREGA workers in Bihar

Samaj Parivartan Shakti Sanghatan (SPSS) popularly known as Bihar NREGA Watch situated in Mahant Maniyari Ratnauli village of Muzaffarpur district, Bihar is an organisation floated by Sanjay Sahni way back in 2013. Samaj Parivartan Shakti Sangathan (SPSS) began with the electric passion of one man Sanjay Sahni, a class 7 drop-out and then an electrician in the streets of Janakpuri in South-West Delhi vowed to expose corruption in the Mahatma National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA also MNREGA) in his panchayat.

Sanjay Sahani: Single man behind mobilising thousands of MNREGA workers in Bihar
Sanjay, Sahni, the founder of Samaj Parivartan Shakti Sanghatan

Mahant Maniyari Ratnauli, steeped in poverty is having majority of people belonging to scheduled caste Paswans.

NREGA work here mostly involves digging up the ground and expanding narrow village roads. It is physical labour of a very basic kind and that is all the villagers are capable of doing.

Mass mobilisation on NREGA employment: The core strength of the SPSS is of 25 members with numerous volunteers working individuals unconditionally for people’s welfare. As a phenomenon, it has spread, from a man to a village, from village to panchayat, panchayat to block and finally all over Muzaffarpur district and is spreading further to neighbouring districts of Darbhanga, Vaishali, Samastipur encompassing approximately 60-70,000 labourers of more than 300 villages.

Women at an awareness camp on 100-day work

The aim behind starting this ground phenomenon was to create large scale awareness among village population on the 100 days’ work under the MNREGA act which was enacted in 2006 under the UPA-I government. Most workers were (and continue to be) women, they were trained to demand work from the state – a right under the NREGA – both orally and through applications. The workers worked on the scheme and on doing so, demanded payments within 15 days, as was stipulated in the Act. This became a model of employment demand in the hinterland of Muzaffarpur district.

We need 100 days employment and this was possible only after getting in touch with Sangathan (SPSS). I came along with few other women in 2013. We have benefitted from this as now we are economically independent. Women in large numbers from neighboring villages have turned up towards this movement with immense hope says Indu Devi, a daily wage labour and active member of SPSS movement.

Sanjay Sahani: Single man behind mobilising thousands of MNREGA workers in Bihar

The backlash from the Unholy Nexus: On the other hand, this movement was a big blow to corrupt nexus between level between the administration and elected representatives existing at the panchayat level. Earlier, workers forcibly had to pay commission to mukhiya, officers in block but now the case is just opposite.

The social movement empowering the MNREGA workers led by Sanjay Sahni’s SPSS had to face backlash from all sides.

Be it Mukhiya at local level or the administration at the district level. These repercussions started in 2014 when the first FIR was lodged against Sanjay Sahni. As the public money loot was hindered, the heat against the social activist and his team members became frequent. Last year, he was arrested while protesting outside the office of the Muzaffarpur district’s deputy development commissioner.

Continuous intimidation in form of death threat, violence and false FIR against the head and members of the organisation at the hands of local bureaucracy and elected representatives is increasing day by day. To resist the attack, a protest has been planned in the city of Muzaffarpur. Below shared notification is about the protest-

Sanjay Sahani: Single man behind mobilising thousands of MNREGA workers in Bihar

A Social Revolution: The chronic joblessness and worst plight in the village made Sanjay think and act in spreading the significance of Mahatma National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. The ongoing for improvement stands with a remarkable and simple message: We will know, We will live. The movement is a unique blend of dharna, petition, campaign, march engrossed with modern technology. Die-hard efforts of Sanjay Sahni has practically resulted in people’s movement which is enlarging geographically and has brought a social revolution paving path for the last standing man-women to have a say in society.

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