The result of the recent elections in five states has ended the winning streak enjoyed by the BJP during most of the past five years.
The BJP has lost its position of power in Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh, where it had been the ruling party for the past 15 years. It has also been voted out in Rajasthan, after 5 years. It has been replaced by the Congress Party in these three states. The Congress Party has been voted out in Mizoram, replaced by the Mizo National Front. It is only in Telengana that the ruling party, Telengana Rashtriya Samiti, managed to retain its position of power.
The voting pattern in these elections shows that more and more people are angry with their deteriorating conditions and the empty government promises, such as “sab ka vikaas”, jobs for all and doubling of farm incomes. The decline in vote shares of the erstwhile ruling party in four out of the five states is one indicator of the people’s mood. The other is a significant increase in the number of people who voted for “None of the Above” (NOTA).
Lakhs of peasants have found themselves growing poorer and falling deeper into debt, both when crops fail and when there is a bumper crop. When they produce more, the market price crashes.
Youth make up a large proportion of new voters. Anger among the youth has been rising because of the lack of adequate job opportunities. Rival parties of the capitalist class have been trying to manipulate the anger of unemployed youth and channelise it along caste lines.
The class anger of workers, peasants and their sons and daughters has had an impact on the voting pattern, despite the efforts of the main contending parties to use religion and caste to divide voters.
While the anger of the exploited classes is reflected to some extent in the vote shares, it is the ruling capitalist class which has used these elections to install governments of their choice. People of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chattisgarh are now saddled with Congress-led governments, committed to implement the same liberalisation and privatisation program. This once again exposes the truth that elections in the existing political system do not lead to any real change of course.
Whenever the anger of people rises, the ruling capitalist class organises a change in its management team. One party gets replaced by another but the basic orientation of the economy and of government policy remains unchanged.
The newly formed Congress-led governments have announced farm loan waivers to pacify the angry peasants. However, such loan waiver schemes will at best offer temporary relief to some among the peasant farmers. They are not going to address the underlying problem of livelihood insecurity facing the peasants.
Neither BJP nor Congress Party has any solution to the peasants’ problems or to the problem of widespread unemployment and under-employment. They are both committed to implement the agenda of the capitalist monopoly houses to enrich themselves as rapidly as possible, through the most ruthless exploitation of the working people and plunder of natural resources.
The capitalist class in our country is divided into numerous sections and political parties. In addition to the BJP and Congress Party, which are the principal parties backed by the capitalist monopoly houses, there are other parties which represent regional propertied interests. The Telengana Rashritya Samiti is one such party. The recent election result there shows that the propertied interests in Telengana are united behind this party at the present time.
The regional propertied interests of different states strike deals with the capitalist monopoly houses to advance their own interests, while pretending to be working for the wellbeing of the people of their region. They do not have any alternative orientation for the economy. They cannot and will not go against the interests of the monopoly houses.
What then is the real alternative? The only real alternative is for all parties and organisations of workers and peasants to unite and fight for a complete reorientation of the economy and of government policy towards fulfilling human needs, instead of fulfilling capitalist greed.
The recent state elections have thrown up some positive examples of united communist intervention in the electoral process. There were some places where communists of various parties cooperated and supported a single candidate, with a proven track record of leading mass struggles for people’s rights. It was possible to achieve victory in such cases, in spite of the unequal money power and media exposure enjoyed by the major capitalist parties. Such united election campaigns have opened the path to further develop the united struggles of the people for their rights, against the capitalist offensive.
These elections have also shown that when communist parties form an electoral alliance with the Congress party, or with parties of regional propertied interests, it does not help to advance the class struggle.
We communists must boldly put forward the alternative to the privatisation and liberalisation program, which is the program for human-centered economic reorientation. Workers’ unions and peasants’ organisations have already raised the demand for a universal public distribution system and for guaranteed remunerative prices. The platform of demands around which massive all-India protest actions of workers and peasants have taken place forms an excellent starting point for developing the program for human-centered economic reorientation.
While participating in elections, we communists must not merge with the existing political process. We must not create any illusions about it. We must use the electoral arena to campaign for proletarian democracy – the alternative system and political process in which the will of the toiling majority of people will prevail.
We must fight for the principle that the executive must be accountable to the legislature, which must be accountable to the people. People must not only enjoy the right to vote but also the right to select the list of candidates before electing one of them. They must have the right to initiate legislation and the right to recall their elected representative at any time. We must demand and fight for the principle that the entire electoral process must be financed by the State and all other sources of funding must be banned.
In conclusion, the way forward is for communists to unite and build a broad alliance of workers, peasants and progressive intelligentsia, around the program of empowering the people and reorienting the economy to fulfill human needs instead of fulfilling capitalist greed.