With the approaching Parliamentary Elections in 2014, the major political formations of the ruling capitalist class, the Congress and BJP along with their fronts have gone into election mode. Each of them is using and will use their time tested methods of muscle and money power and divisive politics based on caste, language and religion to try to come to power.
Neither of them has any solution to the problems facing the working class and people, but on the contrary is sworn to implement the anti-worker and anti-people agenda of the capitalist class once it comes to power.
Meanwhile the working class continues to face deteriorating living and working conditions. In this situation MEL interviewed several of its leaders. We asked them what they think the class and its leaders should do in the forthcoming Lok Sabha Elections in 2014.
We thank each of these leaders for expressing their views so forthrightly. We are printing their views below.
Com Deven Yadav, Chairman of Joint Action Committee , Western Railway Motormen’s Association (WRMA) and Central Railway Motormens Association (CRMA).
The working class should put up its own candidates and fight the big political parties on the agenda of price rise, unemployment, food security, malnutrition and corruption. We should tell the people that they are the rulers and hence they should ask for accountability from whoever gets elected. On our part our manifestos should pledge that we will give account to the people on whatever money is spent in the area. We should warn the people against bartering away their rights for a few hundreds or thousands of rupees offered by the big political parties, which will not last more than a few days. On the contrary we should ask them to join us, who are fighting without any money power, but with the cause of justice on our side.
We should tell the people how the present day rulers, the politicians, bureaucrats and industrialists have looted this country. Previously one US dollar was equivalent to Rs 4. Now it is equivalent to more than Rs. 60! India was known as a “Sone ki Chidiya”, but now it has become a “loot ki chidiya”. These are the biggest terrorists of India who are looting and destroying our country. They are the Kaale Angrez and they are even worse than the Gore Angrez.
Our Manifesto should demand a repeal of all anti-people laws that have been enacted. A lot of these laws were made by the erstwhile British rulers, but continued even after the British Left. The new rulers have enacted some laws that are even worse than those of the British. Today we cannot even assemble peacefully, as we are always threatened with Section 144, which is permanently in force in Mumbai!
However with patience and united struggle, we can win. In May 3rd and 4th 2010, the motormen of Central and Western Railways completely paralysed rail traffic by our united action and the Railway Minister, Ms. Mamata Bannerjee, was forced to announce in the Lok Sabha that she would solve our problems. Even though dismissal notices were served on the leaders of the motormen, 10 each from Central and Western Railway, because of our united stand they were forced to withdraw the dismissal letters and reinstate all the leaders on the evening of the second day. It was only after this that we withdrew our agitation.Change will come and nothing can stop it. The Zamindari system existed in the past. This gave way to Capitalism and this will also change and a system where working people are the rulers will take its place. We should always be positive.
Com A.K Srivastava, General Secretary, All India Guards Council (AIGC)
We should open a new front, a Workers’ Aghadi in opposition to all the existing political parties, be they Congress, BJP, SP, TMC, CPI or CPM. We should strictly exclude the old type of politicians who seek votes by dividing the people. Our Agenda should be to give justice to all people. Today women are raped, workers are cheated and innocents are murdered. A few people are making so much money that they themselves do not know what to do with this money and the existing parties want to make these same people even richer!
We should not export food stuffs which are in short supply in the country. For example even in spite of the recent shortage of onions, they were exported. When we sell sugar on the international market, it is sold at a price lower than our own people are offered. It is sold at Rs.20 per kilo whereas we have to buy it at Rs.40 per kilo.
Many small scale units have had to close down due to imports from abroad. Our whole export-import policies should be changed.
We should carry out an abhiyaan all over India for electing a people’s government. We should abolish all reservations based on caste, gender, religion, etc. and the only criteria should be economic. We should fight to ensure accountability from the government. Even Rajiv Gandhi had famously remarked that out of every rupee spent by the Government, only 10 paise fulfills the purpose and 90 paise is eaten by middlemen.
We need to make changes in the Constitution to ensure that those elected are accountable to the people. If I make a mistake in my job, I am immediately punished, but these elected representatives cannot be touched for 5 years. We should achieve complete literacy. An educated worker is much more productive and similarly an educated peasant will know how to use fertilizers, pesticides and farm machinery, thus increasing the nation’s produce.
Today there are many parties and the members of each can be bought by the highest bidder after an election, in order to form a government. There is a ruling party or front and an opposition one. But why should this be the case? Once elected, every representative has the responsibility to look after the welfare of the people of his constituency.I will be retiring in 2016. The next day of my retirement, I will commence an all India Tour. I will launch a “Berojgar Party”. I will visit all the universities across the length and breadth of India and ask the youth why you are taking all this education as the majority of you will not find employment suitable to the education you are being imparted. I will exhort them to join my Party and together we will overturn the system and bring about fundamental changes, including in the Constitution.
Vishwas Utagi, Vice President, All India Bank Employees Association(AIBEA)
After Independence, the capitalist class did not have the finances to run the heavy industries such as mining, power supply, oil refining, etc. or the infrastructure industries such as railways, shipping, air transport, telephone and postal services and road. Hence according to their own Bombay Plan, they made the government invest in them. This was touted as the socialist sector. The capitalists themselves invested in light industry and services, where returns were quicker. Under this system they prospered. However the working class had its bargaining power because it was organized and collective action won for it many rights.
But in the last twenty years, major technological changes have taken place. Where previously 10 workers were required, now only one worker is enough. Hence while the strength of the working class got reduced, production increased and the profits increased. The capitalist has changed the nature of the way he runs his business. He may have his office in one place and production from ten different countries. The final product is assembled at one place. Hence the bargaining power of the workers in each country reduces.
Now we find that capital has shifted to stock market gambling and speculative investments instead of productive investments. See the enormous rise of Finance Capital both in India and in the World. The working class is not aware of these changes that have taken place. We are all to blame for this. As a result we have educated financially illiterate people. Somebody in the financial or IT sectors may be earning Rs 1.5 lakhs per month and thinking that he or she is well off, but after six months when he or she is on the road he or she will wake up. This has happened in India. See the condition of the IT workers. The hold of world Finance Capital is very strong and it dominates the economy. However I had warned in 2007 itself, before the global financial crises that the bubble will burst. We need to educate people against the stranglehold of finance capital and develop the anti-capitalist vote. I and my Union have gathered a lot of information about how public money is being looted by the capitalist class and we are carrying out a massive propaganda campaign against this.
Another problem we must warn the people about is the machinations of international capital. They want to destroy and dismember India, just as they want to destroy China, Pakistan and even Japan. See what they have done in Iraq, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan. They want to divide the people and integrate the markets. They want to divide the states and put their own dictators as rulers who will facilitate their capture of these markets.We need to carry out seminars and conferences to educate the working class about these dangers.
Com Mangesh Parab, Vice President, National Federation of Postal Employees (NFPE)
Twenty to thirty years ago the working class was a strong force in Mumbai. We could get working class leaders elected from South and South Central Mumbai. Com Dange, Com George Fernandes, Com Datta Samant were elected from these constituencies. But now the numerical strength of the working class has reduced with a parallel increase in the numbers of unorganized workers. The industrial zone from Kurla to Mulund has disappeared. Shopping malls, commercial complexes and luxury apartments are being built on the mill lands. Workers are not strong enough to oppose these changes.
See the example of Maruti, where the Japanese multinational is not even allowing the workers to choose their own union. New workers are also emerging in the IT sector, who think they are actually middle class or higher middle class. Also due to outsourcing, the numbers of the workers in any one location is reduced, weakening them further. We have the experience of workers being organised under the red flag in the factories but in the chawls and housing colonies, they march under a different flag. We communists have not managed to rectify this anomaly.
In the postal sector the Government wants to introduce the Postal Amendment Bill, under which the courier services will get official recognition. So far they did not have this recognition and hence important documents could only be sent by post. This is a further move to privatization and towards shutting down the postal services.
Hence we should campaign in the coming elections to build a working class front. We should demand for a) an end to the contract system and b) Minimum wages of Rs 12,000 per month among many demands that we should draw up.The Congress has ruled this country so far by “Divide and Rule”. My father who was a communist and was in the CPI died a few years ago. I hope to see a change in this country before I go. We all together must work to bring this change to our country and use the coming elections also for this purpose.