The 2014 Lok Sabha elections are under way. It is clear from the propaganda barrage that the biggest capitalist houses, those who own and control the monopoly media, have unleashed the most divisive and vitriolic communal propaganda and are blatantly using their massive money and muscle power in order that they can form a “stable” majority government. The question is: what kind of stability? Stability means different things for different sections. For the big business houses and monopolies, stability means a free hand to go ahead with the policies of privatization and liberalization causing havoc to the livelihoods of lakhs of people. It means providing more tax waivers, assured returns, and a “friendly” business environment so that the wealthy can become even wealthier. For the vast majority of working people, stability would mean stable and affordable prices of essential commodities, stable livelihood, stable interest rates, and so on. But what the parties of the Indian ruling class mean by stability is the former and not the latter.
These elections are taking place in the background of soaring consumer prices, increasing unemployment, and growing criminalisation of politics, corruption scandals, state terrorism and frequent organising of communal violence. Neither BJP nor Congress have addressed these real issues in their manifestos nor do they have any intention of resolving the problems of the people. None of the parties of the ruling class has proposed a reorientation of the economy to make it human centric, or transform the political process to empower the people.
The existing economic system continues to enrich a minority of big business houses and monopolies while depriving people of security and prosperity. In this system, workers and peasants, who produce the material wealth of society are not sure about their next meal. Millions of toiling people have neither a secure roof over their head nor safe drinking water and sanitation. Women are not treated as equal citizens and the existing system does not provide security for women; in fact it is the police and security forces and other agencies of the State which perpetrates violence against women. Dalits face caste discrimination and oppression on a daily basis and are even killed if they dare to violate existing social norms. Religious minorities face persecution and are repeatedly victims of communal violence. Tribal and other collectives in different parts of the country are being forcibly deprived of their traditional resources and threatened with destruction of their livelihood. People of the north-east, Kashmir and other parts suffer from national oppression. All these are made possible by the existing State apparatus – the Executive, the Legislature, Judiciary, bureaucracy, security forces, prisons, and other institutions of the State.
The present system of parliamentary democracy preserves and perpetuates the present economic system, where a minority owns the means of production and exploits the vast majority. It excludes the majority of people from the exercise of political power. The supreme decision-making power, sovereignty, is not vested in the people in spite of the preamble of the Constitution insisting that “We, the people of India, have given to ourselves this Constitution”. It is not the people who are sovereign in the current political system. It is not they who make the decisions that affect the fate of society.
It has been proved again and again, right from the first general elections in 1951-52, that periodic elections and the coming to power of new parties and coalitions cannot change the basic power structure which has been sanctified by the Indian Constitution. The existing Constitution does not ensure human rights or democratic rights; neither does it recognize national rights, women’s rights, minority rights or the rights of labour. The “fundamental rights” enumerated in the Constitution can all be negated through the convenient provision of a “reasonable limits” clause under each Article. The right to health, nutrition, employment and other rights are not even recognized as fundamental by the Constitution and relegated to the section on “Directive Principles” which are just noble objectives without any enabling laws and mechanisms to guarantee their enforcement. On the basis of the provisions of preventive detention, or by declaring an area “disturbed,” draconian laws such as AFSPA are enacted and military and paramilitary forces used against its own people in Kashmir, Northeast and other areas.
The current 16th Lok Sabha elections are being showcased as the largest democratic experiment in the world. Nothing can be a more monstrous lie. The Congress, BJP and other parties have been making a cynical mockery of consulting the people in selecting their candidates and bringing more transparency in their sources of funding and in the conduct of election campaigns. None of this can hide the fact that the political process that we have today in India is a party-dominated political process where people have no rights beyond the day of voting. We cannot have illusions that a fundamental change in our lives is possible without creating a people-centred political process and a new political power that reorients the Indian economy to satisfy the claims of the vast majority of the working people and guarantees fundamental rights and the safety and security of the people through appropriate legislation and enabling mechanisms.
Lok Raj Sangathan, along with several other organizations, has been agitating around a People’s Agenda for political reforms based on a definite set of immediate measures.
Lok Raj Sangathan calls upon the people to take the People’s Agenda forward this year. We have to continue to build and strengthen people’s samitis everywhere so that they are able to defend the rights of people. The challenge before us is to take forward the struggle for a new political system and process that will result in the empowerment of our people.
Desh ki samasyaon ka ekIlaaj! Lok Raj, Lok Raj!
Statement of Lok Raj Sangathan, 20 April, 2014