Elections in Chhattisgarh

This democracy and this Union needs urgent deep-going transformation

Elections to the Chhattisgarh state assembly are being conducted in two phases on 11th and 19th November. The monopoly media, reflecting the interests of the biggest monopolies, is viewing the elections in Chhattisgarh through the prism of how it will impact the General Elections in 2014. The concerns of the working class, peasantry and tribal people of Chhattisgarh find no place in this viewpoint. The two main parties of the bourgeoisie, the Congress and BJP are battling it out for power. Since Chhattisgarh attained statehood in 2000, the state was ruled by the Congress till 2003 and by the BJP since then.

Apart from the Congress and BJP, a united front of various political parties such as the CPI, Chhattisgarh Swabhiman Morcha, Loktantrik Samajwadi Party and Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha have come together under the banner of the Chhattisgarh Samyukta Morcha. The CPI (Maoist) has appealed to the voters to boycott the elections.

These elections are once again being held under the shadow of the gun and the jackboots of the armed forces. In the name of ensuring “free and fair elections”, the armed forces have been deployed in many areas of the state, especially in the areas going to the polls on November 11. In regions of the state like Bastar, they are planning to post one heavily armed soldier for every 30 citizens. The armed forces have been carrying on so called “combing operations” in several districts, looting and plundering and forcing the villagers to flee their homes. The Chief Election Commissioner has announced that the commission is considering the option of moving some polling stations to convenient places tens of kilometres away from the villages where the electors resided. On November 5, the Election Commission announced that the location of polling booths in “sensitive” areas would be revealed only two days before the elections! Air Force helicopters will be used to airlift polling teams!

What does this “free and fair” elections mean for the affected tribal people of Chhattisgarh? It does not matter how many times the election commission and the monopoly media repeats the lie that it is organising “free and fair” elections, this is nothing but a travesty of truth. Elections held under the gunpoint of the armed forces cannot be “free” let alone “fair”. According to press reports, villagers are supposed to have said that if they do not vote, they will be considered Maoists by the armed forces, and if they voted, they would be targeted by the Maoists. Press reports have also quoted villagers as “requesting” the army not to put ink on their fingers after voting, as they did not allegedly want to be identified as having voted. In other words, these elections will be conducted like similar elections have been held in the past in Kashmir, with the armed forces conducting them, rigging them openly.

The manner of conduct of elections in Chhattisgarh puts a big question mark over the recent Supreme Court ruling that the right not to vote was a democratic right that must be as much respected as the right to vote. On this basis, the Election Commission was asked to provide the None of the Above (NOTA) option in the Electronic Voting Machines. It stands to reason that neither the right to vote nor the right not to vote are being guaranteed in Chhattisgarh, and this is happening in broad daylight under the nose of Supreme Court. Such is the “free and fair” elections that is being conducted by the Election Commission, and heralded as such by the national media.

Over 80% of the population depends on agriculture with paddy, wheat and groundnut being the major crops, and the central region of the state is also known as the rice bowl of India. Nearly 30 % of the population comprises tribal people. Forests, rivers, and mineral resources of all kinds abound. The state is a major producer of steel and cement. Apart from the Bhilai Steel Plant, there are numerous other steel plants in this state. Skilled workers and technicians from all across India have made the state their home over the past few decades. Chhattisgarh is a power surplus state and its potential to generate power is immense. Located in the heart of India, it is easy to supply power to any of the four national girds. All this has made Chhattisgarh the favourite destination of Indian and foreign monopolies.

Most of the investments (68.9 %) were in the electricity sector. On November 3, 2012, the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh claimed to have received proposals amounting to Rs. 1.22 lac crores during a two-day ‘Global Investor Meet’. According to the planning Commission the state economy grew at over 10 percent for two consecutive years since 2010. On the other hand, the UN Human Development Index ranks Chhattisgarh 18th of 19 states. The standard of living of the masses of people in Chhattisgarh is not only extremely low, but that there are also huge disparities due to inequality in respect of income, access to health, education and social services. The life expectancy for Chhattisgarh is again one of the lowest among Indian states - only 58.0 years - against the all India average of 63.5 years. There are many villages without power and proper roads.

Capitalist development in the state has not showered prosperity, but disasters on the working class, the peasantry and the tribal people. The wealth of the people has been plundered by the Indian and foreign capitalists in typical imperialist and colonial fashion, taking out much more than what has been put into the economy. Labour laws are openly violated. The forest produce belonging to the tribal people are systematically robbed by the forest officials and the contractor mafia. The biggest Indian and foreign capitalists have been permitted to take over the rich lands belonging to the tribal peoples to extract the minerals, while the people have been forcibly displaced.

 The workers, peasants and tribal people have refused to take these attacks lying down. They have fought heroically to assert their rights, in the face of the most savage state repression. The state has seen major struggles of workers and of the tribal peoples against the efforts of the monopolies to sink their claws into this rich land endowed with so many resources.

The Indian state is ruling over Chhattisgarh through unbridled state terror. The notorious Salwa Judum was created here to organise civil war amongst the tribal population and clear the land of more than 150 villages. The fascist Chhattisgarh Public Safety Act has enabled the state to arrest and torture all those who oppose the onslaught on the people. Both Congress and BJP justify this state terror in the name of “wiping out the Maoists” and ensuring “development”. In fact, their target is the people’s struggles, and their aim is to ensure maximum profits for the Indian and foreign monopolies through the most savage exploitation and plunder of the labour and resources of the people.

No matter which party comes to power in Chhattisgarh, the problems facing the people will not be resolved. The root of the problems facing the people of the state lie in the economic and political systems in place in our country. Capitalism is the motor driving the economy, which is preserving the remnants of feudalism, as well as the imperialist plunder of the land and labour of the people. The Indian Union is a prison house of nations and peoples. Within this prison house, the rights of the different nations, nationalities and tribal peoples are brutally trampled under the ground. The system of democracy merely ensures that one or the other party committed to preserving the capitalist system and the imperialist domination, and to the suppression of the human, democratic and national rights of the people will be allowed to come to power.

The people of Chhattisgarh have a proud history of fighting against exploitation and injustice, both during the anti colonial struggle, and in the sixty six years since independence. Our Party is fighting for an immediate end to state terror, for the revocation of all fascist laws including the Chhattisgarh Public Safety Act, and for the release of all political prisoners. Our Party is committed to replacing the present system of democracy with one in which people will be empowered, and will be able to set the orientation of the economy to fulfill the needs of all. Our Party is fighting for the reconstitution of the Indian Union as a voluntary union of nations and peoples, based on relations of mutual benefit. Taking political power into its own hands, carrying out the renewal of democracy and the reconstitution of the union, the working class of our country along with the peasantry and the tribal peoples can and will put an end once and for all to the system of exploitation of oppression in our country and open the path to a bright future for all our people.

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Chhattisgarh Public Safety Act    salwa judum    Nov 16-30 2013    Political-Economy    Political Process    

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