Below we give a summary of the presentation of Prakash Rao at this meet.
This discussion assumes importance in the light of the great anger and concern of the working masses and the intelligentsia at the blatant way the ministers, the capitalists, dalals, bureaucrats, judges, MP’s and MLA’s have been looting the state exchequer.
The government is preparing to present a bill on Lok Pal in parliament. The content of this bill are an affront to the masses of people who have made proposals by which they think that those in power — the government and bureaucracy, the MP’s and MLA’s, and the judiciary can be made accountable for their actions, particularly when they involve questionable decisions made on the basis of corruption. The government bill keeps the Prime Minister and the higher judiciary out of the ambit of the Lok Pal. It keeps the wheelings and dealings in parliament, the buying and selling of legislators for saving a government or toppling it, and for pushing through anti people legislations, out of the ambit of Lok Pal. Most importantly, it is the government which will appoint members of the Lok Pal, precisely from the same set of people – the ministers, the bureaucrats, and the judiciary – who are either guilty of corruption, or of shielding the corrupt.
Why are the parliamentary parties wanting to create such a toothless institution? Why are the Congress, BJP and CPIM virulently attacking people for putting forth alternative legislations? Why are the Congress and CPIM attacking the mass campaigns which are being organized by organizations and groups which are not parliamentary parties on this issue? Why is CPIM calling for defence of parliamentary democracy and secularism, and asserting that the opposition of the people is weakening parliamentary democracy? If we address these questions, we will know the roots of corruption, and more importantly, we will then have an idea of what needs to be done to develop the struggle to root out corruption.
Prakash Rao pointed out why corruption had become so glaring at the present time. India, China and some other countries have been attracting massive amounts of capital as they give higher rates of profit compared to US, Europe and Japan. These high rates of profit are being made by superexploiting the working class and people, and plundering the land and natural resources of our country. The ruling class as a whole is united in pushing policies that enable plunder of the country by all the capitalists. They have no concern for the working masses or for the country.
At the same time, all the biggest capitalist groups of India and the world are fighting it out amongst each other to get the biggest share of this loot and plunder. There is intense competition amongst the different groupings of monopolies. These groups involve both Indian and foreign players. Amongst Indian monopoly groups within India, as well as between foreign monopoly groups over India. This competition is over who will profit most through maximum plunder, using the state machinery.
Each group is looking for special favours to put one over their rivals. Bribery of MP’s and MLA’s of different parties, installing particular ministers and officials in key positions, bribery of judges, deciding which party or coalition should come to power, using the "opposition" parties to fix the ruling party — all these are a reflection of the inter monopoly contradictions that are sharpening over our country. Even the leaks organized through the media, about how much money who has stashed away in Swiss banks, are mainly a result of the inter monopoly and inter imperialist contradictions over the loot and plunder of Hindostan.
At the same time, the anger of the people against corruption is also a factor in the exposures of the corruption scandals. There are people in the ruling circles who are opposed to the corruption. Some of them want a smooth playing field for all capitalists. Some of them are patriotic. A few of them want the Indian state to serve the people. All these people have also contributed to the exposure of the scandals.
It must be noted that the ruling class as a whole want to keep the inter capitalist contradictions within limits, they do not want things to go out of hand. They do not want the working class, peasantry and intelligentisa to advance the struggle for extending democracy, the struggle for constitutional guarantee with enforcing mechanisms for rights, the struggle for empowerment. They do not want their system to be rocked.
This is the reason all the parliamentary parties, including the Communist Party of India (Marxist), are united on opposing the struggle of people to be decision makers. This is why all of them are upholding the sovereignty of parliament and pitting it against sovereignty of the people. They want the battle inside parliament and outside parliament to be under their control. They do not want people to take the initiative.
However, the reality is that the ruling class is unable to prevent the sharpening of inter capitalist and inter imperialist contradictions. It is unable to quell the struggle of people for their empowerment. This is what present day India is revealing, on all questions, including the struggle to end corruption.
Developing the theme, Prakash Rao said that he would leave it to the other panelists to discuss the merits of various proposals on rooting out corruption, such as those of the Anna Hazare Team, and the Swami Ramdev Team. The preamble to Constitution declares the people of India to be sovereign. However the fundamental law, the Constitution, violates this. The political system and process violates this. People have no way to exercise their sovereignty. We have no role in decision making. Our role is confined to voting, and to pleading with the powers that be through various forms of struggle.
The Directive Principles make lofty declarations. They are violated on a daily basis. Most importantly, when our people make concrete proposals to ensure them, they are attacked, they are discredited, and the proposals are diluted beyond repair. The state machinery is used to attack and discredit all those opposed to the government. For instance, why is it that just now, the state has "discovered" irregularities in the passport of the assistant of Baba Ramdev.
On the burning issues of the day like Right to Food, Universal Public Distribution, rights of farmers including right to their land, right of social security, right to work, and so on, various proposals have been put forth by the people to ensure that the rights of people are constitutionally guaranteed with enforcing mechanisms. They are demanding rights that the Constitution declares it is the duty of the government to ensure.
The government has continuously stone walled every proposal of the people on all these issues, as well as the burning issue of corruption. It declares that it has the monopoly of wisdom, and ridicules the peoples proposals. What stands ou starkly is that PEOPLE HAVE NO CONTROL over the political system and process, over their lives and future. They have no say in governance.
Kapil Sibal’s reaction to the proposal on referendum on Jan Lok Pal versus the government’s version was to express contempt for the people. How can people vote on a law clause by clause, he said. This is misrepresenting the issue. An actual vote was taken in different constituencies, including Sibal’s own, and the peoples enthusiasm showed, reveals that if a referendum is properly formulated, people can make informed decisions. The point is that the ruling circles are afraid of extending democracy, of empowerment of the people.
Therefore to root out corruption, as well as ensure that the state and its institutions, as well as the political system and process, all serve the people, we must ensure that mechanisms and institutions are put into place that will ensure that people become actual decision makers. THIS IS THE HEART OF THE PROBLEM, the problem requiring urgent solution.
Ultimate power should vest in people. The people cannot lose their power, once the vote is cast. They must retain the most important portion of power. Decisions of parliament and assemblies must be under control and supervision of people. To ensure this, we must demand right to referendum on important issues of vital importance to the people.
We must ensure that the people retain the right to initiate legislation, the right to vote for such a legislation, and the right to vote out anti people legislations.
The legislators must be accountable to the people and under their control and supervision. The right to select candidates before election must belong to people and their organizations, and not to political parties. Those elected are representatives of the people of the constituency, not of this or that party. People must have the right to recall those found unfit.
The Party system of rule must be ended. That is, the present system in which a political party or coalition manufactures a majority, forms a government, and then does what it wants to enrich the biggest capitalists, and itself, with total disregard for the people, must be put an end to. There must be no ruling party and "opposition" parties. All those elected together constitute the body which is answerable to the people, and the executive is answerable to the people by being accountable to the legislature.
We must redefine the role of political parties. They cannot be electoral machines fighting to come to power to plunder the whole of society to the benefit of the capitalists and imperialists. Political parties must organize the people for their rights, and fight for the empowerment of the people.
The bureaucracy and the judiciary must both be answerable to the people, and under their control and supervision.
Prakash Rao concluded saying that with these measures, which constituted a combination of advantages of direct democracy with representative institutions, some advance will be made in the direction of the empowerment of the people. This is the necessary condition to uproot corruption in our society, as well as to ensure that the state serves the interests of the vast masses of people. He called upon the other panelists and the audience to take up the discussion on the issues further forward.