Thousands of ordinary women, men and children participated with great enthusiasm in a rally in New Delhi on January 30, to express their determination to fight for political reforms so as to end the venal corruption that racks the political system and the control of money power over all aspects of political life —over the executive, the legislature, the judiciary, as well as the monopoly media. After a rally at Ramlila Maidan, the people marched to Parliament. The program concluded with a pledge to carry forward the struggle to final victory.
The rally against corruption in Delhi was accompanied by similar rallies in many towns of our country on the same day. It took place in the backdrop of the Radia tapes exposures. These tapes have provided a glimpse of how the biggest monopoly houses control and run the government, independent of the party or coalition in power, and determine what policies should be pursued. They have shown that when the government, the ministers, the monopoly media and the judiciary talk of "national interests", the people must be vigilant and not allow themselves to be taken for a ride. By "national interests", they mean the vested interests of the biggest robbers, who are using control over the state to extract from the whole of society.
The rally in Delhi was addressed by a galaxy of political and social activists including Swami Agnivesh, Shanti Bhushan, Prashant Bhushan, Arvind Kejriwal, Harsh Mander, Medha Patkar, Ramjethmalani, Mehmood Madani, Kiran Bedi and others. Social leaders like Swami Ramdev and Shri Shri Ravishankar leant their full moral and organizational power to the actions. Political organizations like the Lok Raj Sangathan and Bandhua Mukti Morcha were present at the rally and march with their banners and slogans.
There was vigorous discussion amongst people on what needs to be done. Will the proposal of the organizers for a Lok Ayukta Bill be accepted by the government? Will it work? How will people ensure that the biggest monopolies, politicians and bureaucrats who have benefited so far from the system and who have stashed away huge amount of ill gotten wealth robbed from our people in foreign banks, are punished and prevented from further looting? What are the mechanisms necessary to ensure that Lok Raj is established in place of the present political system and process, which is actually the raj of the looters and plunderers, the biggest monopolies? What is Lok Raj?
The rally against corruption is taking place at a time when mass revolts have shaken the regimes in power in Tunisia and Egypt. There too, the working masses and the youth, the intelligentsia and the women — all were seething with anger at a venal regime which openly supervised loot and plunder, and ensured that the masses were impoverished, without even bread to eat. In our country too, while the government supervises over loot of unimaginable magnitude, it refuses the simplest of demands of a modern universal public distribution system which will ensure that all essentials of mass consumption are available to all our people in cities and countryside. This shows that the rulers have lost touch with the pulse of the people.
Our people are angry. This anger must be channelised towards organizing themselves in samitis in different residential areas and workplaces. The decision making powers — including selection of representatives, election of representatives, power to recall those who fail to do their duty and power to initiate legislation — these must vest in people organized in their samitis and sabhas. The executive, the legislature and the judiciary, and all other institutions of power —the Election Commission, the Lok Pals, the Central Vigilance Commissioner, and so on must be under people’s control. How to ensure this is the challenge before people today.
It is clear to more and more people that the problem is not having "good people" or "honest people". The problem is not "good governance" as promoted by various western ideologues.
The problem is the system itself. It is this system and all its processes and institutions, which are so designed, that they are in the service of the biggest monopolies. The contradictions amongst these monopolies are resolved through corruption as well as through the fight between different political parties representing them. Therefore, it is important that the role of political parties be redefined — from being gatekeepers keeping people marginalized from power, which is their role in the present system, to one of educating and organizing the people to take power into their own hands. Therefore, one of the main problems to be resolved by the movement is the role of political parties — what they must do, and what they must not be allowed to do. They must simply not be allowed to have power in their hands. Instead they must work for empowerment of people.
In sum, a situation is developing in our country wherein more and more people are seeing that empowerment, or Lok Raj is the solution to the problems of our society. The challenge before us is to harness the sentiment for change amongst people from all walks of life, in a positive direction.