All-India Council of Lok Raj Sangathan charts out the path for the movement for people’s empowerment…
The All-India Council of the Lok Raj Sangathan convened on March 1st 2009. It dealt with the major concerns of the people of India — the impact of the economic crisis on their lives and livelihood, the escalating attacks on the rights of people and the intensified war mongering against Pakistan in the name of "war against terror". It deliberated on how the movement for empowerment of the people was being deliberately blocked by the ruling class through the party-dominated political system and terrorism. It discussed the strategy of the ruling class and its main political parties in the upcoming General Elections. The AIC concluded with putting forth the people’s alternative in the 2009 elections, around which the masses of Indian people will be rallied.
The Report presented by the Convener, Prakash Rao, reflected the wide range of activities of the LRS across the country and its increasing popularity and influence among the people. The activities of LRS were carried out among all sections of the people – workers, peasants, women and youth, as well as amongst the masses of people who are victims of state terrorism in different regions of India. All the issues that were discussed in the report were issues of real concern to the people showing that LRS is an organization which had its finger on the pulse of the people. The interventions of AIC members from several regions of the country on the Report enriched it further.
The Report as well as interventions which followed highlighted the valuable experience that the organization gained by actively intervening in the Delhi Assembly elections. The candidates for the Okhla and Tughlakabad constituencies were selected and elected by the local Lok Raj Samitis establishing a people-centered selection process and breaking away with the practice of political parties selecting candidates without the consent of the people. During the course of propaganda, members of the Samitis met thousands of people and explained the alternative vision of Lok Raj Sangathan, the vision of direct democracy where the people and not parties dominate the political and electoral process. Samiti members gained first hand experience of how actually the party-dominated system marginalizes the people and how political parties run their writ using money and muscle power, how electoral rules favour only the big parties and how people’s candidates get marginalised. The significance of this propaganda and its impact on the electorate cannot be measured merely in terms of votes gained but in the sea change that the candidates brought about in the mindset of people of these constituencies.
Following the report, a presentation was made on the economic crisis and the response of the Indian capitalists and their government to the crisis. The presentation made it very clear that the crisis was not the result of lack of regulations or the bankruptcy of a few banks. It was the inevitable outcome of an economic system where a handful of big business houses and multinationals appropriate the fruits of labour of millions of workers and peasants. In India, the government is bailing big business houses out of the crisis by handing out peoples monies to them. With callous disregard for the workers and peasants, women and youth whose livelihood is being devastated by the crisis, government measures are actually leading to shifting the burden of crisis on to the backs of the people. The presentation brought out that Indian monopoly houses have become big global players. These houses are seeing in militarisation as well as in strengthening the internal security apparatus, a space for maximum profits. The "war against terrorism" and the warmongering is a profitable business, apart from its political role in assisting the ruling circles in lining up the people behind their own agenda. The presentation helped to dispel the blanket of fog that the ruling class has created to fool the people about the real cause of the economic crisis, as well as what are the economic and political aims of the "war against terrorism" and warmongering against Pakistan.
The AIC meeting discussed the developments in Israel and Gaza. It condemned the Israeli government for its genocidal crimes against the Palestinian people.
This was followed by a presentation on “Crisis in Election Commission, proposals for reforms of political process”. The presentation explained that the political system we have today, the system of parliamentary democracy, is dominated by the main parties of the ruling class who usurp power in their own hands in the name of the people and prevent people from exercising their legitimate role in deciding the affairs of the country. The Election Commission turns a blind eye to the criminal activities of the parties of the ruling class and strives to legitimize the present political system and process. The crisis in the Election Commission has clearly shown that the EC is not a neutral body above political parties but actually a puppet of the big parties of the ruling class. Its role has been to sort out contradictions between big political parties of the ruling class and provide them with a level playing field. The presentation proposed that election commissions should be accountable to the people at the constituency level and above and ensure that people play a decisive role in the political process. However, any reform of the Election Commission has to be an integral part of the thoroughgoing overhaul of the political system and process, to actually guarantee the empowerment of people.
In this connection the AIC noted the proposals raised by LRS over the years for reform of the political process are actually gaining increasing acceptance amongst different sections of the disempowered masses. These proposals include that right to select candidates should belong solely to the people of the constituency, the need to ensure right to recall of unsuitable representatives, and mechanism to ensure that people can initiate legislation, and that this power is not completely delegated to parliament and the legislatures, as it is the case now. The AIC noted that there are various other proposals being discussed amongst the political circles, including the possibility of rejecting all candidates. The AIC called for vigorous intervention in the discussions taking place in political circles and the people at large on reforms of the political system and process in favour of the empowerment of the people.
The presentation on “Approach of LRS to the general elections” spelt out clearly that LRS should actively intervene in the coming elections to expose the current political system and process and put forward a clear alternative to this system. Activists of LRS should use the opportunity provided by the elections to fight for bringing people to the centre stage of the political process. They should build and strengthen Lok Raj Samitis wherever they live and work to defend the rights and livelihood of the people and defend the right of the people to select and elect their candidates, the right to recall, the right to initiate legislation, and demand for various other fundamental reforms such as state-funding of elections, equal media time for all candidates. LRS should build links and alliances with all organizations working for genuine reform of the political and electoral process. At the same time it should expose the fraudulent political and electoral reforms put forward by the ruling class with the aim of further strengthening the domination of political parties. Where possible it should support candidates who uphold these principles and who are ready to fight for a transformation of the current political process.
Several resolutions were presented and discussed very thoroughly and passed.
The AIC meeting concluded with a call by the president of LRS, Shri S. Raghavan, to step up the work of the organization among the people in the coming period, actively intervene in the coming elections and boldly put forward a people’s alternative. While the parties of the ruling class are busy working out a strategy for two-timing the people, LRS should go with the clear perspective of enabling people to take power in their own hands. The experience of LRS in the earlier elections will go a long way in conducting a mass campaign among the people for a real alternative.