The political and economic system needs to be changed, not merely the party in power
The schedule for the Assembly elections to the states of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Mizoram and Delhi has been announced by the Election Commission. These elections will be held in November and December 2013.
Three of these states are ruled by BJP and the other two by Congress Party. Both these parties are resorting to massive distortion of facts in their dogfight for control over Executive power, singing one tune where they are in power and the opposite tune where their rival is in power.
These elections are taking place in the conditions of severe attack on the livelihood, well-being and rights of the people.
Skyrocketing prices of onions, vegetables, pulses, rice, wheat, petrol and diesel, electricity, cooking gas, road and rail transport, have made life a living hell for the vast majority of people of the country, including the people of these states. Unemployment and underemployment is soaring, with youth being the most vulnerable victims. The Food Security Act passed by the UPA government in the monsoon session of Parliament is forced to acknowledge that 90% of the people in rural areas and 50% of people in urban areas cannot even afford to purchase wheat and rice from the market. This is the state of our country, 66 years after independence, as people of these states go to cast their votes.
The working people of these five states are extremely concerned and angry about their deteriorating conditions and the attacks on their livelihood and rights. (See box on the situation in these states)
The ruling class of India, headed by the capitalist monopolies, and including the principal parties of the bourgeoisie, is concerned only about how these elections will impact the contest for the Lok Sabha in 2014. This colonial and imperialist mindset dominates the way these elections are talked about in the major TV channels. People’s concerns are subordinated to the so-called big fight between the parties of Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi.
Even official statistics are unable to hide the extreme poverty and miserable living conditions of the people. The 2011 comparative Human Development Index (the measure of well-being of the people with respect to income earned, status of education and health services provided to the people and other social indicators) covered 19 of the 29 states in the country, (the ten states excluded are seven North Eastern States, Jammu &Kashmir, Goa and Delhi). Rajasthan ranked 13 out of the 19 states, while Chhattisgarh ranked 18 and Madhya Pradesh ranked 19. In terms of multidimensional poverty, the figures in terms of the percentage of the population were 62.8, 69.7 and 68.1 in 2009-2010. The corresponding All India figure was 53.7, which reflects how much worse off the people of these three large states are.
The question arises, why even after 66 years of independence, our people are still living in conditions far less than what is worthy of human beings in this modern day. The glaring fact is that whether they are small or big, whether they are richly endowed with natural resources or not, the conditions of the people across these 5 states are terrible. There is one reality for the majority of the people of all these states – the reality of poverty and deprivation, while there is one reality for the bourgeoisie which rules in these states, whichever be the party that forms the government – the reality of affluence and amassing of wealth. This is the fundamental orientation of the economy.
Root cause of the problems
The root cause of the problems of the people in all five states lies in the existing economic and political systems, which have not fundamentally changed in character even 66 years after colonial rule came to an end.
The means of production are concentrated in the hands of the bourgeoisie, and the economy is geared to enrich this class at the expense of the toiling majority. Land and other natural wealth that belongs to different nations, nationalities and peoples in our country are being plundered for the benefit of Indian and foreign monopoly capital.
The political system and electoral process are all geared to ensure that only parties backed by the economically dominant class are entrusted with political power. Such parties speak in the name of the people while acting strictly in the interest of the bourgeoisie, the class of exploiters. They are committed to one and the same program of so-called reforms. This is the program of globalisation, through liberalisation and privatisation. It is an anti-worker, anti-peasant and anti-national program aimed at maximum loot and plunder of the land and labour of all the peoples of India. It is a program driven by the narrow interests of a class that cares more about its money-bags than about the fate of our country and her people.
Parties and organisations that are fighting against this program and in defence of the livelihood and rights of workers, peasants and other oppressed masses are marginalized by the existing political process. They face a highly unequal contest in the electoral process, which is designed to bring to power only such parties that are committed to implement the program of the bourgeoisie.
A massive propaganda is being carried out to confuse and divert the people from recognizing and addressing the root cause of their problems. The impression is being created that the problem lies with some corrupt politicians, and the solution lies in replacing them with honest politicians. This propaganda is aimed at covering up the fact that the problem lies in the very nature of the existing system. The political system is corrupt at its very foundations, as it defends an economic system of exploitation and maximum plunder by the bourgeoisie. The problem cannot be solved merely by replacing one set of politicians or parties by another.
The exposure of one corruption scandal after another, both at the centre and in the states, has brought into the lime light how the biggest monopolies wield power, place their own people in positions of power as ministers and officials, and make sure government decisions favour them. They have provided a glimpse of how the biggest monopolies have enriched themselves by plundering the land, labour, and natural resources of our people using their control of the state machinery. This is not an aberration, a problem with one or another party or one or another capitalist group. This is the way the capitalist system works today not just in our country, but throughout the world. There is an urgent need to put an end to the capitalist system itself.
The solution lies in carrying out a revolutionary transformation of the economic and political system. The first and immediate task to be taken up for solution is the forging of political unity of all those who want to change the present dangerous course of our country, around one common alternative program. Such political unity is essential to prevent the bourgeoisie from strengthening its position and forging ahead with its anti-social program.
The Communist Ghadar Party calls upon all parties and organisations of workers and peasants, of oppressed nations, nationalities and peoples, of women and youth, to unite around the alternate program, agitate for it, and make it happen.
Immediate measures to reorient the economy, guarantee people’s rights and empower the toiling majority include:
- Halt to privatisation of essential services; these services must be provided in full to the entire population by the state;
- Reversal of open door policy towards imports of commodities and capital, and its replacement by the principle of self-reliance, with imports and exports playing a secondary and complementary role;
- A modern universal public distribution system that covers not only food grains and sugar but all essential consumption goods at affordable prices, to be established through nationalisation of foreign trade and domestic wholesale trade, with public procurement of peasants’ produce at stable and remunerative prices; and
- Prohibition of all land acquisition and private land transactions pending the enactment of a new law that recognizes land as national property, protects the rights of the users of land, in harmony with the general interest of society;
- Enhanced public investment to fulfill the basic needs of nutrition, health, education and housing for all, to be financed by cutting back unproductive government spending, withdrawing tax concessions to capitalists and confiscation of black money.
In order to implement such measures, the toiling majority of people who stand to gain from it need to acquire political power in their hands. This requires fundamental changes in the system of democracy and the political process, so as to empower the people.
The people of our country need to elect a new Constituent Assembly to draft a Constitution that will ensure that our people are indeed the rulers, the decision makers. We need to draft a Constitution that will guarantee human, democratic and national rights for all our people. We need enabling laws and enforcing mechanisms to ensure these rights are never violated, under any pretext.
The new Constitution must ensure that instead of placing political parties in power, people must be able to exercise power themselves, with political parties playing an enabling role.
The right to select candidates for elections must lie in the hands of the electorate. Political parties as well as non party organizations of the people will have the right to propose candidates before the electorate, but they will not be able to impose their candidates over the electorate.
In each constituency, there must be an elected Cnstituency Committee which supervises the process of selection and election, and this process must be funded by the state. No party or individual candidate must be permitted to spend any money on the election process. The Constituency Committee must ensure that all the candidates who have been selected would have equal opportunity to present their platform before the electorate. Such a committee would also be the mechanism by which people would be able to exercise the right to recall, the right to initiate legislation, as well as to ensure regular accountability of those elected.
The Indian Union must be reconstituted as a voluntary union of nations and peoples. It is not acceptable that the Central Government can ride roughshod over the State Governments and plunder the precious natural resources of all the peoples. We need a union where all the constituents benefit from the union.
Communist Ghadar Party calls upon all progressive political forces to unite around this program.
Dangerous and divisive politics
The course pursued by the Congress and BJP, has ensured that the vast masses of our people are deprived of Sukh and Suraksha. Now openly, day in and day out, the leaders of the Congress Party accuse those of the BJP of organizing the demolition of the Babri Masjid, and the Gujarat genocide, while the leaders of the BJP accuse the Congress of organizing the genocide of Sikhs. Both are telling the truth. But they are using this truth not to punish the guilty, not to ensure justice, but to threaten the people with more genocides if one or the other comes to power. People are becoming increasingly conscious of this. As a victim of the Muzzaffarnagar communal riots said bitterly following Rahul Gandhi's comments that the ISI of Pakistan was trying to recruit the victims, " we lost everything to the riots and have been living in relief camps in awful conditions for more than 50 days. Instead of helping us, they are linking us with the ISI". A Muslim leader said "The statement underscores the Muslim's fears that they are used like bay leaves, which are used to flavor vegetables and meat, but are thrown away after use".
To come to power, or retain power, these parties are openly inciting divisions on the basis of religion, language, region, caste etc. Their election campaigns are organised on the basis of depoliticizing the people, making them fight each other. These are not only anti worker and anti peasant parties, they are anti national to the core.
The cynical organizing of the Muzaffarnagar communal riots, Rahul Gandhi's assertion that he could be assassinated, the bomb blasts accompanying Narendra Modi's Patna Rally, the deployment of the army in Chhattisgarh to allegedly crush Maoist insurgency before the elections, are indicators of the disasters in store for our people.
As long as power remains in the hands of the bourgeoisie, the future of the vast majority of our people will remain dark. Replacing one party in power with another will change nothing. What is needed is a change in the political and economic system.
The Communist Ghadar Party of India calls upon the people to reject the divisive politics of the Congress and BJP. The times are demanding that we organise the people to take power into their own hands. All political forces, which are for the empowerment of the people, must come together under one platform to replace the present system with one wherein we the people, the workers and peasants and working people of our country, will actually become the rulers, orient the economy to fulfill our needs, ensure security and prosperity for every Indian no matter his or her religion, caste, language, or nationality, and reorient foreign policy in order that India becomes a bulwark against imperialism, a factor for peace in this region and the world.
Rajasthan is the biggest state of the country in area. The problem of being a border state (Central Government has followed policy of not investing in large scale industry, and only the recent efforts at oil and gas exploration mark a departure from this policy) and a largely desert state, has meant that opportunities for livelihood have been very meager. In industrial towns like Kota and Jaipur, the rights of workers are blatantly violated. In Kota, thousands of workers of closed enterprises have decided to exercise the NOTA option in the coming elections, to protest against the fact that neither the Congress, nor the BJP, is bothered about the rights of workers. In fact, neither of these two parties who have been ruling the state alternately have bothered to address any of the issues of the people when their government has been in power. Water shortage for agriculture, for drinking and for industry is acute. Every year, the farmers whose lands are supposed to be irrigated by the Indira Gandhi canal, have to wage mass protests, to ensure that the meager water in the canal is not diverted for industry. Meanwhile, in dozens of cities of the state, people get drinking water only once in 4 days. The system of water distribution in these cities is largely in private hands and the majority of working people cannot afford to pay the exorbitant rates charged for the water they need. Electricity supply is erratic for the farmers, as well as in the cities. In this state, the major source of steady employment for youth is government. However, in all sectors, including education, health care and rural services, the government has been resorting to contract labour, hiring youth at the lowest possible wages with no job security. This is further fueling the anger of the people.
Madhya Pradesh is another very large state, endowed with a fertile land irrigated by many rivers. However, the farmers of this state are suffering from high prices of electricity and diesel, the diversion of the Narmada waters to Gujarat and a volatile market for agricultural produce. Here too, the government has handed over distribution of water supply to private parties in several towns of this state, allowing them to charge exorbitant rates for water. Madhya Pradesh also has regions like the North, in the Gwalior belt where people are mired in poverty for decades. In this state too, like in Rajasthan, the government is one of the main employers. The cutback in government recruitment in education, health care and other social sectors as well as contractualisation of employment has greatly affected the future of youth.
Chhattisgarh is one of the richest states of India in terms of natural resources — it abounds in minerals like coal, iron ore and bauxite, enormous hydel and forests wealth. The state is a major producer of steel and cement. The biggest multinationals, Indian and foreign, have been digging their claws into this bountiful land. The state ranked 5th among all states in terms of investment in 2008, according to the RBI. On November 3, 2012, the Chief Minister of the state claimed, during a two day global investor meet, to have received proposals amounting to Rs.1.22 lakh crore. To provide a "favourable climate" to these investors, the Chhattisgarh government in league with the central government, has been attacking the rights of workers viciously. Workers struggles are crushed brutally by the police. In the name of crushing Maoists, the state has been turned into an armed camp, with tens of thousands of armymen, CRPF and special police hounding workers, peasants and tribals, and arresting, torturing, killing and raping young boys and girls in the cities and countryside. This is a state whose central region is known as the rice bowl of India, a state that has hydro electric potential to supply power to the rest of the country for a hundred more years. But the conditions of the people belie the richness of this state. There is an acute absence of road connectivity and power supply in many parts. This is why communities in several panchayats have decided not to vote in the coming elections. They have raised the question: when the MLA can come to our homes asking for votes once elections have been announced, why cannot they bring rice to our homes?
In the state of Delhi, nearly half of the population has to live in unauthorized colonies, slums, as well as on the streets. They have no drinking water, live with extremely poor sanitary conditions, and those with electricity connections have to pay unacceptably high electricity bills to ensure the profits of the private distribution monopolies, the Tatas and Reliance. Land use laws have been amended in the past month, to ensure that the lands of the villagers can be taken over by private corporate developers easily. While these developers make unbridled profits from the construction and sale of mammoth housing colonies, the government does not take any responsibility for the provision of infrastructure – water, power, roads, transportation services for the residents, who are left to fend for themselves. The livelihood of working people has been under attack, with several parts of the city being declared out of bounds for small traders and hawkers.There is rising anger about the extreme insecurity faced by women on the streets, a product of the increasing criminalization of politics and social life in this city that was once known for its high standards of culture.
Many new political parties and non-party organisations are preparing to contest the elections, while massive money power is being deployed to ensure that power remains in the hands of parties trusted by the Indian and international bourgeoisie.
The state of Mizoram is one of the smallest states of the Union. Bordering Myanmar and Bangladesh, the people of this state still have no rail connectivity with the rest of India. The road routes are extremely long and unreliable. For higher education, the youth have to go over a thousand kilometers away to Assam, or to Kolkata, Delhi, Pune and other far off cities. There, these boys and girls are treated as second class citizens, forever the target of ethnic violence, organised by the state. This is what happened a year ago, when youth from the North East were forced to flee from their jobs, from as far away as Bengaluru, following state sponsored targeting of people of the North East.
There is little or no industry and the educated youth of this state have no other option but to seek government jobs which do not exist, or migrate to other parts of the country. Like other states of the North East, the people of Mizoram have faced extreme neglect from the Central state. In the decades of the sixties and seventies, the demand for self determination rose amongst the Mizo people and took the form of an armed insurgency. The Central government treated the people of Mizoram as a typical colonial power. It used the Air Force to strafe the villages, and forcibly moved the people of hundreds of villages into concentration camps, and destroyed their agriculture, as "punishment" for asserting their rights. Eventually, the insurgency was crushed. However, decades later, the people of this state are still suffering from the utter neglect of the Central government.