Lok Raj Sangathan organized a round-table discussion on the burning topic: “Thorough-going reforms in the political system and process needed”. Following the just concluded assembly elections to five states – U.P., Manipur, Uttarakhand, Punjab and Goa, the discussion brought out a great degree of unanimous concern among the various participant groups and individuals, on how people are completely marginalized in India, which is touted as the world’s most populous democracy. Activists from a number of parties and organisations participated in the discussion.
Introducing the topic, Sucharita who convened the round table, raised the question whether the results of the election represented “janadesh” or the adesh of some vested interests. She said that the experience of all the elections shows that the elections are manipulated to by the powerful sections to produce the result that advances their narrow agenda. Lok Raj Sangathan’s President, S. Raghavan cited examples of blatant rigging, manipulation of EVMs, use of the corporate controlled media, money and muscle power in the elections, to show how the big business houses decide which political party can best serve their interests and organize to bring that party to power. That is why we see that whichever party forms the government, the economic and political agenda remains that which is set by the big monopolies, Indian and foreign. Indian people are not sovereign. People do not have the right to select their candidates, to hold their elected representatives accountable or to recall them, to take vital decisions that affect their lives. Describing this system as a continuation of the colonial legacy, he called upon all participants to express their views on the fundamental change that is required, a change from the root. He asked them to address the question: what should be the new system that can ensure that people can become the real decision makers?
The opening presentation of Shri Raghavan was followed by interventions from a number of participants. These included Alok from Krantikari Yuvan Sangathan, Narinder from Indian Council of Trade Unions, Prakash Rao from Communist Ghadar Party of India, PK Shahi from CPIML, Dayanand from Yuva Bharat, Maheswaran from Desiya Makkal Shakti Katchi, and Harminder from United Sikh Mission. Many leaders and activists of the LRS including Prof Bharat Seth, Advocate Gautam, Dharminder, Santosh and Poonam enriched the discussion.
There was unanimous agreement that the system and process of democracy in our country does not reflect the will of the people. The participants expressed the view that the biggest monopolies controlled the state and used elections to bring to power a government of their choice. Many participants highlighted from their own experience how elections were regularly rigged.
Speakers pointed out the role of the corporates and the media controlled by them in the corporation elections in Maharashtra as well as in the assembly elections to the five states.
Participants pointed out that these elections were being held in conditions when the biggest monopolies were carrying on all sided attacks on the livelihood and rights of workers and peasants. They are declaring that all those who do not agree with their agenda are “anti-national”! The people are refusing to take these attacks lying down and fighting back. In these conditions, the ruling class has tried to use these elections to declare that it has the “people’s mandate” for its anti-people agenda. This is a monstrous lie which we must expose before the whole people.
Speakers referred to the fact that though the majority of Manipuri people are opposed to the AFSPA, majority of the Indian people are opposed to the exploitation and attacks on their rights, the electoral process does not reflect any of this but time and again, churns out victory for one or another Party of the exploiting class. A speaker pointed to the fact that elections today are conducted like a business model, by management experts.
Speakers pointed out that the role of political parties should be to organize the people and make them conscious of their rights, and enable people to rule themselves. However, the political parties of the ruling class are actually working to depoliticize people. They divide the people on religion, caste, ethnicity, region, etc and smash the people’s unity. There is no real difference between the different parties of the ruling class which are labeled as secular or communal. They all defend the agenda of the bourgeoisie and attack the rights of the working class and peasantry.
A speaker recalled the vision of India proposed by the Ghadaris, the revolutionaries of the Hindustan Ghadar Party as early as 1915, by Shaheed Bhagat Singh and his comrades, of an India where there will be no exploitation and people will be masters of their own destiny. Contrasting what exists today with that vision, he expressed the view that the foundation of the Indian state is colonial and has not done us any good. We need to recognize that and take up the struggle to achieve that unfinished mission of our martyrs. We must mobilise all the Indian people to understand that this foundation is anti-people.
Various participants put forth the fundamental changes they felt were needed to the political system and process in order to ensure that people were indeed empowered.
Summing up the discussion, Sucharita of Lok Raj Sangathan called on all participants to unite and take forward the struggle for the realization of these thorough-going changes proposed by various participants — the need for mechanisms by which people can select their own candidates, hold elected representatives to account, recall them and initiate legislation. The discussion concluded that these changes are urgently needed in order that people may be truly sovereign.