Political developments in Tamilnadu: Complete bankruptcy of parliamentary democracy

Political developments in Tamilnadu reveal the complete marginalisation of people in this system of parliamentary democracy.

Two major factions of the AIADMK, one headed by the current Chief Minister, V Palaniswami, and another led by ex-Chief Minister, O Panneerselvam, recently merged. A third faction owing allegiance to its present General Secretary Sasikala has demanded a confidence vote.

Timeline of political developments
in Tamilnadu

May 16 2016

Elections to the Tamilnadu Assembly held. Open and blatant use of money power results in petitions for countermanding of elections. The Election Commission countermands elections in only two constituencies. Movement for people’s empowerment vigorously develops.

May 19-23, 2016

AIADMK front wins 134 seats, the DMK front 98. All other fronts get no seats. J Jayalalitha is again sworn in as the Chief Minister.

December 6, 2016

Jayalalithaa passes away after being hospitalized for many weeks. In the interim period, the government is run from the hospital. O Panneerselvam (OPS) sworn in as interim Chief Minister.

December 21, 2016

Income Tax department raids homes and properties of Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary P. Rama Mohana Rao, a close confidante of Sasikala. It announces that it has unearthed unaccounted wealth.

December 29, 2016

AIADMK general council unanimously passes a resolution appointing Sasikala as General Secretary.

February 5, 2017

OPS resigns as Chief Minister. Sasikala elected as the leader of the AIADMK legislature party, paving the way to her becoming the Chief Minister. Governor C Vidyasagar Rao accepts OPS' resignation, but asks him to continue until a new Chief Minister is appointed, amid speculations that Sasikala’s arrest is imminent.

February 7, 2017

OPS announces revolt against Sasikala. AIADMK splits.

February 10, 2017

More than 120 AIADMK MLAs taken to a resort to prevent any defections to the OPS camp.

February 14, 2017

Supreme Court convicts Sasikala setting aside the Karnataka High Court verdict acquitting her in a 19-year-old disproportionate assets case where she was a co-accused along with Jayalalithaa. This conviction means not only a jail term, but also bars Sasikala from becoming Chief Minister. AIADMK (Amma) faction of party appoints K Palaniswami as leader. OPS expelled from AIADMK and forms AIADMK (PTA).

February 16, 2017

Palaniswami sworn in as Chief Minister.

February 18, 2017

Palaniswami wins confidence vote in Assembly amid high drama. Members of DMK thrown out during the voting for demanding a secret ballot.

March 8, 2017

OPS-led AIADMK faction organizes protest action demanding probe into the death of Jayalalithaa.

March 15, 2017

AIADMK (Amma) nominates TTV Dhinakaran, Sasikala’s nephew, as the party's candidate for the RK Nagar bypoll scheduled for April 12. This was the seat held by Jayalalithaa until her death.

March 22, 2017

The Election Commission issues an interim order freezing the 'two leaves' election symbol of AIADMK; says the two rival camps cannot use the party symbol as well as its name for the bypoll.

April 8, 2017

Income Tax officials announce they have documents proving that Chief Minister Palaniswami, five other ministers and an MP were distributing money for votes in the byelection. The IT department hands over the documents to Election Commission.

April 9, 2017

EC cancels RK Nagar bypoll over alleged use of money power to influence voters.

April 18, 2017

Ruling AIADMK (Amma) faction announces team to hold talks with Panneerselvam camp on possible patch up. Palaniswami cabinet decides to keep Dhinakaran and his family out of the party and government.

April 25, 2017

Delhi police arrests Dhinakaran for allegedly trying to bribe an EC official to get the 'two leaves' poll symbol.

May 2, 2017

Enforcement Directorate registers a money laundering case against Dhinakaran and others in connection with the Election Commission bribery case.

August 10, 2017

Ruling AIADMK faction says Dhinakaran's appointment as Deputy General Secretary was against party rules. Soon after, Palaniswami announces a Commission of Inquiry to go into the death of J Jayalalithaa.

August 21, 2017

Both AIADMK factions merge. OPS sworn in as Deputy Chief Minister.

August 22, 2017

18 AIADMK MLAs owing allegiance to Dhinakaran meet Governor and express no confidence in government. They demand a vote of confidence in the Assembly.

The nine months since the passing away of Jayalalitha have witnessed high political drama. (See box on time line of political developments in Tamilnadu). The Central government has been working overtime in this entire period, to weaken the AIADMK party and the government in Tamilnadu. Its aim has been to place the government of Tamil Nadu completely at the mercy of the government and party ruling at the centre and completely aligned to the latter. This is in line with the aim of the big bourgeoisie to remove all roadblocks to its anti-worker, anti-peasant and anti-national program, as seen in the recent developments in Bihar. It must be noted that the AIADMK government of Jayalalitha had opposed the GST, reflecting the interests of sections of the propertied classes in Tamilnadu. The hand of the BJP-led central government is clearly visible, both in the factional fights within the AIADMK for control over the party and the government, as well as the unity that has been brokered between two factions of this party recently. The present crisis is also being used by BJP to strengthen its foothold in the state.

All the institutions of the Indian State – the Governor, Supreme Court, IT Department, CBI, Election Commission and the prison establishment — have played their role in this diabolical game according to a script dictated by the central government.

The Income Tax department has been used to threaten both the former Chief Minister Panneerselvam (his Chief Secretary was raided in December 2016) and the current Chief Minister Palaniswami and his ministers (documents were allegedly found of a plan to bribe voters during the cancelled April by-election). The Election Commission cancelled the bi-election to the RK Nagar Constituency. The CBI trapped Sasikala’s nephew and Deputy General Secretary Dhinakaran in a case of alleged attempt to bribe the Election Commission. Earlier in the year, the Supreme Court reversed the verdict of the Karnataka High Court on a 21 year old corruption case in which Sasikala was a co-accused with Jayalalithaa and convicted her with a jail term, effectively debarring her from becoming the Chief Minister.

Simultaneously, the central government has also used various means to lure the AIADMK politicians. It is reported that the AIADMK will now join the ruling NDA as an alliance partner and some of their MPs will be given portfolios in the central government. The central government has used the entire apparatus under its control to ensure that the Tamilnadu government will dance to its tune.

People are utterly disgusted by the arbitrary actions of the factions of the ruling AIADMK and the interference of the central government. At the same time, they feel helpless in this system which does not allow them any role beyond casting their vote on Election Day.

What is happening in Tamilnadu has once more revealed the reality of parliamentary democracy before the masses of people. It has once more underscored the fact that the present system of democracy only serves the bourgeois class, which is a tiny minority.

At the heart of the problem is that India is a class-divided society in which the political system and process ensures that the party that comes to power in the center or in the states to run the government is strictly committed to serve the ruling bourgeois class headed by about 150 big monopolies. Parties of the ruling class are funded by different sections of the bourgeoisie. They vie with each other for people’s votes during an election.

The so called elected representatives are not selected by the people. They do not have to render accounts to the people. They cannot be recalled by the electorate if they do not perform. The Constitution of India is founded on the premise that the people are unfit to govern themselves. During elections, people are provided a choice only between one or another trusted party of the bourgeoisie backed by its money and media power. The existing system of representative democracy is designed to marginalise the vast majority of people. It ensures that political power is concentrated in the hands of an executive formed by the party that wins the majority. The executive is not accountable to the legislature. The legislature, in turn, is not accountable to the electorate. Decision-making power is vested exclusively in the Cabinet formed by the ruling party. Such a system ensures the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie over the toiling masses.

The ruling class tries its best to keep this truth hidden by constantly spreading the false impression that people are exercising their will through elections. The fate of the people of Tamilnadu is not determined by which party runs the government or which individuals are in power. People can change their fate only by establishing their own rule in place of the rule of an exploiting minority.

Tamilnadu has seen the rise of an initiative for the empowerment of the people. The demand that people must have the right to select the candidates prior to any election, to hold their elected representatives to account and to recall their elected representatives, is gaining ground. People are demanding that all private funding of election campaigns by individual candidates or parties must end. The State must fund the entire election process.

All political forces in Tamilnadu who are fighting for the rights of the people need to unite and take up the cause of the empowerment of the people. We need a new system in which people will set the agenda and not surrender all their political rights when they cast their vote. The role of a political party must be to provide people with a leading force so that they can govern and exercise their sovereignty. The struggle for the empowerment of the people needs to be waged with the perspective of establishing a new State on the basis of a new Constitution with a new political process that will ensure that sovereignty is vested in the people.


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Tamilnadu    parliamentary democracy    exposed    Sep 1-15 2017    Voice of the Party    Political Process     Popular Movements     2017   

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