Vesting Sovereignty in the People is the Only Way Forward!
- India is said to be the largest democracy in the world, but the Indian people do not enjoy the right to set the course for Indian society and shape its destiny. The majority of Indian people have neither secure livelihood nor the power to do anything about their miserable conditions of life. They are not treated as human beings. They are humiliated and oppressed on the basis of caste, gender, class, race, religion or nationality.
- The workers and peasants who toil all day to produce the material needs of society are not sure whether their families will get enough to eat. Millions of toilers have neither a secure roof over their heads nor safe water to drink. Women are not treated as equal human beings, nor are their special needs as women taken care of by the state. Dalits face discrimination and oppression on a daily basis. Religious minorities face persecution and are frequently made the victims of communal violence. Tribal and other peoples in different parts of the country have been deprived of control over their traditional resources and are threatened with destruction of their livelihood and way of life.
- People in the north east and other parts of the country suffer both racial discrimination and national oppression. The peoples of Kashmir, Punjab and Bengal remain divided and victims of the communal partition of 1947 and its legacy. Movements of the people in many regions face brutal suppression by the police and armed forces in the name of “law and order” or “defence of national unity and territorial integrity”.
- In short, the majority of Indians feel like second or third class citizens in this “world’s largest democracy”. This is the situation more than 50 years after the end of colonial rule. It has been crying out for resolution for a very long time. It is high time that the 100 crore Indian people take their destiny in their own hands, get to the root of the problem in our country, and bring about the all-round renewal of this great land.
The Root of the Problem – disempowerment of the people
- The existing system of Indian democracy excludes the majority of people from the exercise of power. This is the root cause of the ills affecting our society. The concentration of political power in the hands of a small elite supports and enables the further concentration of wealth and economic power in fewer and fewer hands. As a result, the majority of Indians are deprived of their basic needs and human dignity.
- The supreme decision making power, sovereignty, is not vested in the people, even though the Constitution of India states in its preamble that “We, the people of India, have given to ourselves this Constitution.” It is not the people who are sovereign. It is not they who make the key decisions affecting the fate of society.
- The power to make and implement decisions that affect the course of society lies in the hands of the Executive power — the Cabinet of the ruling party or coalition of parties. The Legislative power — the Parliament and the state assemblies — exists only to legitimise what the Executive does. The executive power is not subordinate to the legislative power nor are those elected to the legislature subordinate to the people. They render accounts to their respective parties and follow the party whip when it comes to voting in the legislature. The Judiciary is appointed by the Executive and is not accountable or answerable to anyone.
- The existing political party system also serves to keep the people away from power. The party or coalition of parties that commands the support of a majority of MPs or MLAs forms the government and has a mandate to rule as it sees fit during its term of office. The electoral law guarantees the domination of the electoral process by the parties of the status quo and ensures that governments are formed only from among their ranks. Once in power, such parties act in the service of the most powerful economic interests that stand behind them and finance them. People have no role in governance within this system. Their only role is to vote once every few years to choose which party of the establishment will rule for the next few years.
- The existing system of Indian democracy has its origin in English political theory and practice of the 18 th and 19 th centuries, which was aimed at defending and promoting the interests of the capitalist class in England. It is designed to exclude the masses of working people from governance. The British colonialists implanted this system of representative democracy in India, when they first allowed a limited franchise to establish provincial assemblies of Indians elected only by educated men of property. This system of representative democracy was superimposed on the foundation of the highly repressive administrative structure, including the armed forces, prisons and courts, established by the colonialists to defend their rule. It was this political system, established and developed by an oppressive and alien ruling power in conditions of deepening revolt of the Indian people, that was adopted as the political system of independent India under the 1950 Constitution.
- The system of democracy existing today, just as in colonial times, is based on the fundamental premise that the Indian people are not capable of governing themselves and hence need some force standing above them to rule over them. This premise is outdated and unacceptable, because the Indian people are, on the contrary, most capable and eager to rule and govern themselves.
- The majority of Indian people have no rights. An intricate system of privilege and patronage distribution substitutes for the clear definition and affirmation of rights. The 1950 Constitution of India does not ensure human rights or democratic rights; neither does it recognise national rights, women’s rights, minority rights or the rights of labour. The “fundamental rights” listed in the Constitution can all be negated through the convenient provision of a “reasonable limits” clause. On this basis, the Government of India has constitutionally enacted draconian laws and used military and paramilitary force against its own people in many parts of the country. On the other hand, the need for livelihood and human conditions of existence for all citizens are not even recognised as fundamental, being relegated to the status of “directive principles of state policy”, i.e., as noble objectives on paper with no enabling laws or mechanisms to guarantee their enforcement.
- Despite talk of “equality” and “secularism” in the Constitution, a citizen in India continues to be identified on the basis of his or her caste or religion. This is hypocritically done in the name of affirmative action (reservation) to uplift “weaker sections” or in the name of protecting minorities. In fact, this has served neither to uplift or defend the dalits from continued savage discrimination and oppression, nor to ensure the security of religious minorities. It has at best only served to accommodate a small elite from these sections among the ranks of the privileged, and provided weapons in the hands of the power-seeking parties to expand their vote banks and to disrupt and divert the struggle against caste and other forms of oppression.
- When it comes to national identity, on the other hand, the Constitution does not recognise the existence, let alone the inviolable rights, of the various nations, nationalities and tribal communities that have inhabited this land from ancient times. The existing Indian Union is based on the territorial definition of India and its administrative division into provinces, as laid down by the colonial conquerors. The paramount power to create new states or merge existing ones, to redraw the boundaries of states or change their names, still resides with the Centre. Hence, over 50 years after the end of British colonialism, different peoples within the Indian Union are still waging a life and death struggle to affirm their distinctive identities and rights. This is a major source of tension and conflict in India today.
- Because of the denial of the rights and aspirations of the people over so many decades, and because the vast majority do not have the political power necessary to change their conditions, India today is a seething cauldron of discontent, from one corner of the country to the other. However, the existing system legitimises the arbitrary and brutal use of force by the State to deal with mass movements of peoples within India for their political demands. It allows the State to convert political problems into “law and order” problems, be it in Kashmir or the North-East or elsewhere, thereby blocking the path to their peaceful resolution.
- Such a political process as exists in India, that has been designed to impose the interests of a self-serving minority over the vast majority of people, is outdated and unacceptable at this time. A political process that is designed to facilitate maximum plunder suited the needs and interests of the colonialists who conquered India. It does not suit the interests of the Indian people today, who want to be liberated from all forms of enslavement and to become their own masters.
- There is thus a sharpening divide between the rulers and the ruled in today’s India. Because the ruled are increasingly unwilling to put up with their state of powerlessness, the ruling elite are resorting to ever more nefarious methods to maintain themselves in power, including the increasing use of terror and sectarian politics, and the overall criminalisation of politics. This intolerable situation can be resolved only through the empowerment of the people. Vesting sovereignty in the people is the only way forward for Indian society.
The dangerous situation facing the Indian people
- Today, a dangerous course, completely inimical to the interests of the people, is being pursued by the rulers in India for their narrow and self-seeking aims. The twin planks of this anti-people course are, on the one hand, the economic reforms being pursued under the signboard of globalisation, liberalisation and privatisation, and on the other hand, alliance with the US in the name of “global war against terrorism”.
- The economic reforms that are being implemented do not have the least pretence of addressing the burning problems facing the majority of working people of the country. On the contrary, these reforms are leading to widespread destruction of livelihood in both urban and rural areas and have increased the general level of insecurity of life for the Indian people. The Government of India is selling public productive assets to private capitalist companies. This is being done on terms highly favourable to the private capitalists and in complete disregard for the interests of the workforce of these enterprises or the general public. As the Central Government cuts back on its responsibilities towards the Public Distribution System, lakhs of farmers are saddled with unsold grains, as the Food Corporation of India is refusing to purchase any more. The government’s godowns are full with old and rotting stocks, even as many people are dying of starvation in different parts of the country.
- In the name of complying with the provisions of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the Government has opened the doors of India to imports of all kinds, including consumer goods and food products. The livelihood of millions of peasants and artisans in many parts of the country has been already destroyed or placed under serious threat from the flood of cheap imports, leading to increasing incidence suicide among peasants driven by desperation.
- The peoples of the world can and must gain mutually from trading with each other. There is a place for a body that could be called the world trade organisation. However, the existing WTO is an organ for imposing the will of the US and other imperialists on all countries and peoples of the world. It is not a democratic organisation that is committed to harmonise the interests of all the trading countries and peoples. By signing and becoming a member of such an organ of imperialism, the rulers of India have mortgaged a big portion of our national sovereignty. By complying with the conditions of the WTO with respect to foreign trade policy, for instance, they have given up the right of India to decide what can be brought into the country and what can be taken out. Globalisation of production and capital, driven by the greed of the biggest profiteering companies, Indian and foreign, does not enhance but on the contrary seriously undermines the well-being of the masses of Indian people. It tightens the noose of the world imperialist system around the necks of the Indian people and gives increasing scope for foreign interference and control of India by various big powers and through multilateral organisations like the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation. The imperialist prescriptions are now being advocated openly by the ruling parties and coalitions at the Centre and in many of the states in India.
- The course of globalisation through liberalisation and privatisation does not have the human being at the centre of consideration. It has the maximisation of the rate of private profit in the hands of the biggest monopolies and oligopolies as the central concern, with all other claims being subordinate to this central concern. ‘Let every individual fend for himself or herself in a market oriented society’ — this is the call of those in power. This course is clashing with the demand of the vast majority of Indian people that society should ensure that their claims are fulfilled. While the broad masses of people are asked to “fend for themselves” in the market place, monopoly companies such as Enron and AES, and big business groups such as Reliance, Tatas and Birlas, continue to benefit from government guarantees. The state guarantees a rate of return for the biggest players, both Indian and foreign, while declining to provide any guarantee for the claims of any other section of society. There is no equality or level playing field in the market place. There is in fact extreme and growing inequality between a handful of big players and the numerous small players in the market.
- The reforms in the economic sphere have directly contributed to the increasing imperialist penetration, foreign interference and heightened threat of war in the region, as India and other countries in the neighbourhood have been further opened up to plunder and rivalry among the biggest monopolies and imperialist powers of the world. The economic reforms are closely linked with the policy of growing militarisation of the Indian economy and state, and of increasing collaboration with the United States in the political and military spheres. This policy has received a big push following the launching of the US-led “war against terrorism” and the Indian Government’s wholehearted support to it.
- The September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington were cynically used by the US Government to implement its grand strategy in the post-Cold War world of ensuring its unrivalled domination of the world by asserting its domination of the heartland of Asia. The US’ keen interest in this politically volatile region, of great geo-strategic importance and rich in resources, has been obvious for some time, and has been reflected in the recasting of its policy towards South Asia and the tensions in its relations with China in recent years. As part of this strategy, the US has sought to increase its active collaboration with the Indian ruling class, especially in the military and intelligence spheres, and has been stoking up the flames of rivalry and animosity between the governments of India and Pakistan as a deliberate ploy to increase its room for maneuvre in the region.
- Far from exercising caution or vigilance in the face of the heightened US interest in the region, the rulers of India have welcomed it with open arms, seeing with extreme narrow-mindedness only an opportunity to settle scores with their rivals in Pakistan and to enhance their own clout on the regional and international stage through growing closeness to the US superpower. This adventurist direction in foreign policy has been taken in blatant violation of the sentiments and the peace-loving and anti-imperialist traditions of the Indian people, and without any semblance of public consultation. It has greatly enhanced the danger of war right at our doorstep, and made even more remote the possibility of increasing friendship and goodwill between India and Pakistan — something absolutely essential for the progress and wellbeing of all the peoples of South Asia. The Indian people are in great danger of being sucked into a military holocaust over which they have absolutely no control, and out of which they stand to gain nothing.
Crisis of Legitimacy and the opportunity to make a breakthrough
- Those in power claim that they have the mandate of the people to implement the program of liberalisation and privatisation, and the program of militarisation and war in collaboration with the US. The broad masses of people, however, are showing through their daily actions that they do not approve of this program. They do not believe the promises and justifications trotted out by the politicians. The discontent and frustration among the people finds its reflection in the growing inability of any party to achieve an absolute majority and form the government on its own, whether at the Centre or in the states. Faced with their growing loss of credibility, the parties of the establishment are resorting increasingly to violent and diabolical methods such as state and individual terrorism, the organising of bomb blasts, communal violence and other diversionary and divisive tactics, in order to come to power and stay in power and to push through their anti-people agenda. The Indian people are increasingly disgusted with the existing state of affairs. They are fed up with parties of vested interests that indulge in all kinds of corruption, inciting of sectarian violence and loot of public property. They are no longer satisfied with the so-called right to vote, which gives them no power to influence the course of events, except to replace one party of vested interests by another at the helm. Indian democracy thus faces a serious crisis of legitimacy today.
- However, a crisis of legitimacy is also an opportunity to make a breakthrough and initiate a new course, a new direction towards a new system. What is to be done to come out of the present situation of stalemate and to make a breakthrough possible? What is to be done to halt the dangerous course on which the ruling minority is taking the country? What is to be done to lift Indian society out of the crisis and open the path to progress? The Program of LRS is in response to these questions that have emerged among the masses of Indian people.
- The aim of the political program of LRS is to vest sovereignty, the supreme decision making power, in the hands of the people where it belongs. Once they have political power in their hands, then and only then will the working people of India be able to ensure that the society develops in a way that benefits them. The necessary condition for vesting sovereignty in the hands of the people is to make a clean break with the existing political institutions, which are a legacy of the colonial past, and begin afresh. This is the meaning of the democratic renewal of India. It is the broad masses of Indian people — precisely those who are deprived of power under the present system — who need to take up the task of the renewal of India.
- Renewal means to start afresh. Unless the root of the problem is attacked, there will be no real solution. The state and political process need to be reconstituted and established afresh. With this aim, what is needed is not only a political program, but also sustained work to create the mechanisms and instruments for the people to effectively participate in politics and build their own broad front against the forces of the status quo.
- In order to make a break with the colonial past and chart a bright future for India and all its peoples, it is necessary to work out a modern perspective and conception of civilised society. It is necessary to recognise that when production has become highly socialised, it is not possible for every individual to fend for himself or herself, as the champions of market reforms advocate.
- Thousands of years ago, Indians had developed the perspective that it is the duty of society to provide prosperity (sukh) and protection (raksha) for all. And that the praja — the people as a whole — had the right to select the raja who would ensure that prosperity and protection were indeed provided for all the people. Such a perspective was negated over the centuries by the rise and domination of exploiting classes and the establishment of the caste system as a form of perpetuation of class divisions. It was further negated by the “rule of law” imposed by the British colonial rulers, that legitimised and refined the system of private property and profiteering by the wealthy classes, while outlawing any kind of opposition to this system of plunder.
- Today, the Indian people need to reaffirm the principle, drawn from their own rich experience with statecraft, and taking into account the great advances made by mankind in the modern era, that it is indeed the duty of the state to ensure prosperity and protection for all members of society. But Indian society is much more complex than it was thousands of years ago. If the principle that it is the duty of the state to provide prosperity and protection for all is to be realised in this complex society, it is necessary to define and recognise what exactly constitutes prosperity and protection in the conditions of modern society. Secure livelihood, quality education and health care, safe drinking water, housing and sanitation, reliable supply of electricity and access to modern communication facilities must be considered among the inviolable rights of every member of society today. It is the solemn duty of the society and the state to ensure that these rights are realised. What is needed is a system which recognises that (i) all members of society have rights by virtue of being human, and (ii) society has an obligation to ensure human conditions of existence for each of its members.
- Today there are different collectives in society, each with their specific interests and claims on society. Government policy at the present time is based on giving supremacy to the claims and interests of the big corporations and vested interests, the owners of the big business houses and money lending institutions, relegating all other claims and interests to a subordinate position. The repeated corruption scandals that have broken out have exposed the fact that it is big business that runs the government and shapes the policies.
- If the economic system is to serve the masses of working people, it is essential that the working people themselves make all the major decisions. What is needed is a state that would deprive the vested interests of the exclusive decision making power that they enjoy today, and guarantee that this power is vested in the hands of the people as a whole. Such a state would work to harmonise the various individual and collective interests with each other and with the general interests of society. It would suppress those vested interests that seek to prosper at the expense of others and at the expense of the general interests of society. The state would deprive such interests of the power to influence the course of society, as an essential condition of guaranteeing the sovereignty of the people.
- Once they are sovereign, the people can reorient all economic policies with the aim of investing in the productive forces, both human and material. The aim of economic policy would be to ensure the well-being of the people and at the same time look after the needs of the extended reproduction of society, including the need to preserve the natural environment and augment the means of production. The people will not permit those who want to siphon out resources from the economy at the maximum possible rate, to set the course of society, as is the case at the present time.
- The first act of the people, when they become the true masters of Indian society, will be to eradicate the curse of poverty, illiteracy and preventable diseases through an emergency program based on ending the loot of public funds by a privileged elite. Such an emergency program will consist of immediate measures, such as a moratorium on servicing the debt to foreign institutions, including the World Bank and the IMF. Thousands of crores of unaccounted (black) money that lie in the hands of many of the rich and corrupt in society can be unearthed at one stroke if the state decides to issue a new currency note. The resources gathered through such measures can be invested to ensure that all the basic needs of the people are fulfilled. The state will then ensure that the public distribution system is run truly in the public interest and that it provides all essential goods in adequate quantity and quality at affordable prices for everyone.
- Once they are sovereign, the Indian people can safeguard the economic and political independence of the country by following the principle of self-reliance. This does not mean isolation from the rest of the world. But it means that foreign trade will be kept strictly in the hands of the state and out of the hands of profiteers. Imports will be made to complement the collective labour and efforts of the Indian people to produce everything that Indian society needs. The people will have a say in deciding what things can be allowed to be exported out of India. No loan or aid from any foreign state or international institution will be allowed without the explicit consent of the people.
- With this aim of ensuring prosperity and protection for all, the Indian people can and must give rise to a new state structure, based on a new fundamental law or Constitution. Sovereignty of the people means that it is the people as a whole, organised in their places of work and residence, who shall have the supreme decision making power in their hands. When they elect their committees or representatives or deputies, the people will not surrender all their power, but only part with — and that too temporarily — some portion of it. They will retain the power to call the elected representatives or deputies to account, as well as the right to recall them at any time. Those who are elected will be duty bound to implement the decisions of the collective that elected them. They will not have any right to change any decision of the collective. If a decision has to be changed, only the same collective that made the decision in the first place will have the power to change it. The executive power will be subordinate to the legislative power, which in turn will be under the control of the people.
- In a state that is built on the basis of the above principles, the governments of the different nations, nationalities and tribal peoples in different parts of the country will only have those powers that have been delegated to them by the collectives of the people organised in their places of work and residence. With the exception of the specific powers that have been delegated, all other residual powers will remain with the organs at the base of society. The Union of India will only have those powers that its constituent governments delegate to it.
- In a new state built on these lines, there is need for a new political process wherein political parties do not usurp the power to govern, but instead work to raise the consciousness and level of mobilisation of the people so that they are fully enabled to govern themselves. The new Constitution must give no space for any party that seeks power for itself and tries to exclude the people from the decision-making process.
- With the perspective of establishing and building such a new state and political process, what the Indian people need to do on an immediate basis is to establish on a non-partisan and non-sectarian basis their own organs of political activity and struggle, to collectively assert their claims and defend their rights. The people need to build such organs in their places of work and residence and in each city and district of India, in the course of putting forward and fighting for their immediate demands. It is through the establishment and building of such organs in every possible location, that the people can take the necessary steps to prepare themselves to take power in their own hands.
Immediate Task and Demands
- The most immediate and urgent need of the broad masses of Indian people is to become political, that is, to become an organised force so as to assert their claims and fight for their rights. The people need mechanisms that increase the scope for their political activity and end their political marginalisation. The creation and strengthening of such mechanisms is an important and immediate task facing the people and all political activists of India.
- The forces of the status quo impose one definition of “politics” whose aim is to keep the people marginalised. According to this definition, participation in politics means to become part of the vote bank of this or that parliamentary party. The challenge facing the people is to reject this notion imposed on them and to find new ways to participate in politics.
- The wealth of India is the product of the labour and efforts of the crores of working people of this country; hence the working people have legitimate claims on the social product. They have the right to have their say in how the social surplus is distributed and enjoyed by various sections of society. They need to find ways to assert these claims and defend their rights from being violated by the existing authority.
- The building of local, village, district, city, national and all-India level organs of people’s struggle is thus the immediate practical task facing all the truly political forces in India. The people need to be organised on a political basis in order to contest the power of the vested interests. Such people’s formations will need to participate in all forms of struggle and activity that will assist to bring the people’s demands and agenda onto the centre stage of political life, including participating in elections when and where appropriate.
- The immediate demands listed below are the most important ones around which one can and must seek to build the unity of the people today, cutting across the lines of religion, caste, language, party affiliation, etc. Agitating for the fulfillment of these demands would provide the unifying focus for the work of building the organs of people’s struggle all over the country. It would serve to build the broad political front of all the forces interested in the renewal of India. It would serve to isolate those forces that try to divide the people in order to cling to the status quo and block the road to progress.
End Army Rule, State Terrorism and Violence against the People
- In order to enable the broad masses of people to participate in politics, one of the essential conditions is an immediate end to all forms of violence against the people, under any pretext. The policy of converting political and economic problems into “law and order” problems must be resolutely opposed and defeated. One of the first tasks in politicising the people, therefore, is to make them conscious of the urgent need to oppose and end state terrorism and the use of force by the rulers to deal with political and economic problems. No matter which section of the people is under attack, all Indians should raise their voices in opposition, on the principle that an attack on one is an attack on all.
Abolish all the draconian laws that deprive the people of their fundamental rights!
End the army occupation of Kashmir, Nagaland, Manipur and other parts of the country and withdraw all armed forces from civilian areas!
Oppose the use of force to deal with political and economic problems!
Protection of Rights is the Duty of the State
- The Indian state does not protect the rights of all Indians. The Constitution of India relegates basic human rights such as the right to work, to education and health care, as well as the obligation to eliminate caste-based oppression, to the category of non-justiciable measures called Directive Principles. There are no laws that guarantee that these will ever be realised. Or where there are laws providing for these things, there are no enabling mechanisms to enforce them. One of the most important aspects of politicising the people is to make them conscious of the need to demand constitutional guarantees and enforcing mechanisms for their rights. The goal of the fight must be a state that can actually ensure that the rights of the people are never violated.
Constitutional guarantees for the right to work and to secure livelihood for all!
Constitutional guarantees for the right to education and public health care!
Constitutional guarantee for women’s rights and minority rights!
Special courts for speedy trial and exemplary punishment of any perpetrator of caste oppression or discrimination!
Constitutional guarantee for the right of every nation, nationality and tribal people within India to decide their own destiny!
Enabling mechanisms to be established for people to enforce the above rights and hold the state accountable for their violation!
Renewal of the Political Process
- The process of elections and formation of elected governments has become extremely criminalised, with the people being either reduced to vote banks of established parties or being altogether sidelined. In order to end this situation, the people can and must demand such changes that would expand the space for their participation in politics and help to break the stranglehold of the parliamentary parties over the polity. They must demand and fight for a new Constitution, a new fundamental law to be laid down by the people, that would ensure that the executive and legislative powers are under their control.
Elect People’s Constituency Committees in each workplace and residential area!
People’s Constituency Committees to be mandated with the responsibility to organise election of candidates for election, to recall elected representatives when necessary, and to initiate proposals for new laws and for revision of existing ones!
Elect a Constituent Assembly with the mandate of formulating a new draft Constitution to be placed before the people of India for discussion and approval!
Reorientation of Economic Policy
- The principle that whatever is best for big business is best for India needs to be replaced with the principle that the well-being of every Indian is the condition for the well-being of Indian society as a whole. Based on this principle, the people can and must actively contest the claims of the big business houses, multinational companies and financial oligopolies. They must call for an immediate halt to the loot of public resources and for their re-allocation to fulfill the basic needs of the people.
Moratorium on repayment of interest and principal on loans from the World Bank and the IMF!
Confiscate black money by issuing new currency!
Invest the resources thus saved in an emergency, time-bound program to end poverty and illiteracy and to raise the living conditions of the masses of people!
No to the sale of public property to private profiteers!
Pull out of the imperialist dominated WTO!
Full protection to the livelihood of peasants and workers!
Redefinition of Foreign Policy
- The foreign policy of the Indian state is not a factor for peace and security in South Asia, nor for the safeguarding of the sovereignty of India and other nations and peoples. The Indian people must raise their voice in unison against the dangerous imperialist course being pursued by the present day rulers of India. They must demand and fight for an alternative policy that is based on seeking genuine friendship with all our neighbours and on the unity among the peoples of this region against the US and other imperialists.
No to support for the US-led “war against terrorism” and other forms of Indo-US military and political collaboration!
Consistently oppose Anglo-American interference in South Asia!
Yes to a No-War Pact with Pakistan!
Actively work for peace in South Asia!
Democratise the UN, vest paramount powers in the General Assembly and abolish permanent membership in the Security Council!
Call of Lok Raj Sangathan
- Let each one of us who desires to work for the empowerment of the people resolve to take up the task of building at least one organ of struggle (praja sabhas that can elect lok raj samitis) among the section of people where we live or work. Let us develop and strengthen these organs that can in future become the organs of the people’s power.
- In every factory and mohalla, village or city or district, let us work to see that the people propose additional demands that have emerged from their collective struggle. In other words, the program presented by LRS is for the people to take as their own and further develop and enrich with their experience. The General Body of LRS will review these immediate demands on a yearly basis and update the Program as required.
- All our political activists among the workers, peasants, women, youth and oppressed peoples must strive to play an active and visible role in the polity at all times, with the sole aim of ensuring that sovereignty is vested in the hands of the people!
- LRS is committed to play the role of being the facilitator of political unity among the people, irrespective of ideological persuasion or party affiliation. LRS offers space for all Indians to unite on a political basis to lift Indian society out of the crisis at the present time. LRS believes that the program for the democratic renewal of India belongs to all Indians. Thus there is a role to be played by every political party and organisation among the people in creating the new India, with the exception of those that have merged with the existing system and become nothing but vote gathering machines. In the electoral arena, LRS will seek unity with other political forces, independent candidates, small parties, etc., to break the stranglehold of the “recognised” parties of the establishment.
Origin and Aims of Lok Raj Sangathan
- Lok Raj Sangathan (LRS) was born in the midst of the acute crisis of the Indian polity in early 1993, in the aftermath of the destruction of Babri Masjid and the organised violence that followed. The seeds were sown at a historic rally held in Ferozeshah Kotla on February 22, 1993, at a time when a ban on all political rallies had been imposed in New Delhi and a general climate of confusion and terror had been made to prevail.
- The LRS came into being as the Committee for People’s Empowerment, a non-partisan initiative on the part of a broad cross-section of Indian people, to fight against the criminalisation of politics by the major parties in Parliament and to end the state of powerlessness of the majority. It stated its fundamental premise as follows: The existing system and process of democracy are designed to keep the majority of people out of power — hence the people need a new system and political process, a renewal of democracy to empower themselves.
- Reviewing the developments in the period 1993-98, including its own work for the empowerment of the people, the Committee for People’s Empowerment (CPE), at a public convention in Pune in May 1998, decided that it needed to broaden the scope and content of its work. In January 1999 the CPE reconstituted itself as the Lok Raj Sangathan — an all-India political organisation committed to the creation of a new political power that would affirm the sovereignty of the people.
- The Lok Raj Sangathan today has members and activists from all walks of life including workers, peasants, youth and students, activists of women’s organisations and human rights organisations, teachers, professors, retired judges and retired civil servants. It has branches in many cities and districts including Maharashtra in the west, Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh in the north, and Tamil Nadu and Kerala in the south, while new branches are being built in the east and north-east. Local branches of LRS have been established in student campuses, in factories and in residential areas.
- The work of LRS as a whole is led by a Central Executive Committee at the all-India level, while committees elected in each region lead the work in those regions. The Central Executive Committee produces a newsletter that is circulated periodically to all members. Political meetings, rallies and major conferences are regularly held in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Pune, Tiruvananthapuram and other places. The distinguishing character of such events is the emphasis on the forging of political unity among different sections of the people around the necessity for the renewal of India. LRS delegations have also participated in international political events such as the mass protest against imperialist globalisation at Seattle. LRS has actively championed the cause of those who have risen up against the imposition of the privatisation program, such as the workers of Modern Foods Limited. LRS has a website at https://lokraj.org.in which has begun to attract considerable interest among a wide cross section of Indians, including those living or studying abroad.
- Membership of LRS is open to all Indians and persons of Indian origin who wish to participate in and contribute to the program for the democratic renewal of India through vesting sovereignty in the hands of the people.